LEICESTER are targeting a KO Cup turnaround when they visit Ipswich on Thursday looking to win at Foxhall and move into the semi-finals.

The Watling JCB Lions lost the first leg at home to the Witches way back on Easter Monday, and they travel to Suffolk facing a six-point deficit.

Ordinarily that would make them heavy outsiders in the tie overall, but things have changed in recent days with Ipswich being hit by an injury crisis that sees them without three of their top four riders.

Skipper Danny King has been out for the last month with a hand injury, whilst top scorer Jason Doyle suffered rib and shoulder damage in a crash at King’s Lynn last week, and then Adam Ellis also hurt his shoulder in France on Sunday.

That leaves the Witches using two guests as well as rider replacement for Doyle, although they have recruited two riders who know their club very well in the form of Scott Nicholls and Troy Batchelor.

But there’s no doubt the home side’s problems give the Lions an increased chance, in what will still be a difficult task of scoring 49 points on the night.

They track a full-strength line-up with manager Stewart Dickson once again juggling the middle order as Ryan Douglas moves to No.4 and Luke Becker takes over at No.5.

Meanwhile Craig Cook makes his seasonal debut at reserve and could also have an important part to play, against the club he rode for in the Premiership in 2021.

Dickson said: “I do think we have a chance, and Ipswich will know that – their result at Birmingham on Monday shows it, with no disrespect to Birmingham.

“If my boys can put in somewhere near the performance they put in on Monday against Oxford, we do have a chance at Ipswich – and I don’t just mean to win on the night, I mean to get those six points back.

“Ritchie (Hawkins) and Chris (Louis) are clever guys and they have brought in the best replacements they can, but you’ve got to say that Jason Doyle is almost irreplaceable around there, certainly whenever I’ve seen him.

“It should be a good meeting, and after we had a good night on Monday I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be very interesting.”

If the Lions do make it through, it would add a semi-final clash with Birmingham to their fixture list, the first leg of which would take place at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park next Thursday (June 6). Lions are at Oxford in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership next Monday.

IPSWICH: Emil Sayfutdinov, Dan Thompson, Scott Nicholls, Troy Batchelor, Jason Doyle r/r, Keynan Rew, Jordan Jenkins.

LEICESTER: Max Fricke, Richard Lawson, Sam Masters, Ryan Douglas, Luke Becker, Craig Cook, Sam Hagon.

Next Home Meeting

Leicester Lions V Ipswich Witches
July 18, 2024 19.30

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