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PREMIER LEAGUE CAMPAIGN BEGINS

NEWS Monday 23rd April 2007, 5:00pm

by Mike Hunter

Stoke Potters visit Armadale Stadium on Friday in the first Premier League match of the season for the Scotwaste Monarchs.

Monarchs feel after their deserved victory in the Scottish derby last Friday that they are moving into form at the right time, though this week they will be without Daniele Tessari (reserve for the Italian Grand Prix) and possibly Derek Sneddon (injury). Stoke have started the season poorly but they have made a couple of interesting team changes which should improve their fortunes.

TEAMS FOR THE PREMIER LEAGUE MATCH AT ARMADALE ON FRIDAY 27th April (start time 7.30, doors open 6.30) are:

EDINBURGH SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Ronnie Correy (capt.), Derek Sneddon, William Lawson, Henrik Moller, Matthew Wethers, Sean Stoddart, Andrew Tully.

STOKE EASY-RIDER POTTERS: Glenn Cunningham, Ben Barker, Garry Stead, Lee Complin, Rusty Harrison, Barrie Evans, Jack Hargreaves.

SEAN STANDS IN: Monarchs' reserve of last season Sean Stoddart, now doing well for Newcastle, will stand in as a reserve guest for Daniele Tessari.

With the issue of the first averages, Daniele drops to reserve (no. 6) but he has been chosen to ride at reserve in the first World Championship Grand Prix of the season at Lonigo, Italy.

A guest is permitted and Sean was the obvious choice to ride alongside his ex-Devils team mate Andrew Tully.

Tessari will return for Sunday's visit to Glasgow.

SNEDDON INJURIES: Early in the week, Derek Sneddon was unsure whether he would be fit for the weekend's action after his heavy fall in heat 14 last week.

He has a leg problem and muscle damage in his lower back, and said ?I've improved a good bit since Friday night but while I can walk or lie down, if I try to sit or lift anything the pain is still unbelievable. I'll just have to wait and see how quickly it heals.?

Derek has risen to number three in the new averages so if he doesn't make it, rider replacement will apply with everyone other than Ronnie Correy taking a ride.

UK UNDER-21: It's a busy weekend for William Lawson coming up ? as well as racing for Monarchs on Friday and at Glasgow on Sunday, he has to go all the way to Eastbourne on Saturday for the British Under-21 Final!

He is likely to be in Wolverhampton's team on Monday also, so there might be some kind of 4-day mileage record broken by the Auchterarder youngster.

SPONSORS ON FRIDAY: The sponsors of Friday's match are the Spylaw Tavern, who also sponsored a meeting at Armadale during 2006.

TWO NEW POTTERS: Stoke reacted quickly to their bad start to the year with two recent changes.

First to be dropped was German Robbie Kessler who appears to have lost his dash of a few years ago, and in his place comes former Premier League Riders' Champion Glenn Cunningham. Cunningham has scored well since his return.

Potters' long-term star Paul Pickering, attempting a comeback from serious injury, has also been dropped and he is replaced by 22-year old Lee Complin.

Complin's comeback will be widely welcomed ? he was rated one of Britain's best prospects as a teenager with Sheffield in 2001-2 before retiring mysteriously. He has been racing shortrack but now he is back on Speedway and quickly amongst the points.

Of course Potters also feature Monarchs' 2005 no. 1 Rusty Harrison, and Garry Stead who has a remarkable recent record at Armadale (see below).

Ben Barker riding at no. 2 is certainly a young rider with the potential to do well.

STEADY ON!: Garry Stead has called Armadale his least favourite track ? but you would never know it! No rider has a better recent record at Armadale. He was on the winning side as a visitor TWICE in 2004 (with Hull), ONCE in 2005 (with Hull) and TWICE in 2006 (with Workington). Five wins in three seasons!

LAST WEEK'S MEETING: The Scotwaste Monarchs beat Glasgow 47-42 in spite of the annoyance of machine problems including two vital lost chains. Ronnie Correy led the way, unbeaten in his first four rides until his chain came off in the last heat ? he scored 11 and Matthew Wethers 10.

NEXT WEEK'S MEETING: Another change of competition as Monarchs face Sheffield in the Knockout Cup. The first leg is at Owlerton on Thursday 3rd May with the return at Armadale on Friday 4th May.