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Edinburgh Monarchs v Scunthorpe Scorpions

PREVIEW Saturday 30th April 2011, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

Scunthorpe Scorpions are the visitors to Armadale this Friday (7.30) fresh from a morale boosting win over Somerset that ended the title-chasing side's six match unbeaten run.

The Scorpions have endured a torrid start to their season with the high scoring Carl Wilkinson suffering a broken leg and in addition a significant injury absence for the hard-riding Tero Aarnio. Monarchs have a concern of their own with a late fitness test required for their key man at No.5, Craig Cook.

After a disappointing slump over the closing stages last week against Leicester, Monarchs will be hoping it's not an ill omen that Scunthorpe's number one rider is 29-year-old David Howe ? from Leicester! The former Elite League star has frequently shown his liking for the Scotwaste Arena.

Replacing Carl Wilkinson at No.2 for the Scorpions is the 2010 British Under-21 Champion, Joe Haines. He seems to have been around British speedway for a long time, but the Bolton lad is still only 19 years of age and has plenty of time to progress a lot further in the sport.

The No.3 race jacket is filled by Swedish rider Victor Bergstr?m(24), now in his fourth season of UK speedway ? all with Scunthorpe! At No.4, also in his fourth season - two of them with Berwick - is Tero Aarnio (27) from Finland who has just come back from a nasty hip injury.

For the second week in a row we have a visitor who has spent most of his speedway life at Sheffield. This time it's the experienced Ben Wilson, now in his tenth season. The first of the reserves is a hugely promising talent from Denmark, 18-year-old Thomas J?rgensen.

His partner at No. 7 is Steve Worrall, the younger of 19-year-old speedway riding twins from St Helens. Like so many new British riders, Steve has made the transition from years of junior moto-cross racing. He also finished second in this season's Under-21 Championship to Matthew's admirer, Tai Woffinden.

Monarchs fans will be hoping Kalle Katajisto rediscovers some of his often brilliant home form after a much more encouraging score in the win at Newport. The top five will also have to work hard to restrict the scoring of David Howe who missed the last Scorpions match after becoming a dad for the first time!

Of course, all eyes will be on Lee Dicken and Kyle Howarth who have been drafted in to get among the points after a string of low scores by Ashley Morris and Jay Herne. The highly likeable Lee is sure to become a fans favourite with his never-say-die attitude and Kyle has previously been a popular guest.

The home fans will be expecting a much better performance from their team after last Friday's shocker and provided their top five can ride to their potential, plus get a few more points from reserve, the result should be a lot more positive. But Howe and Aarnio in particular will not make life easy for Monarchs.

Likely line-ups:

SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Kevin Wolbert, Matthew Wethers (capt.), Andrew Tully, Kalle Katajisto, Craig Cook, Lee Dicken, Kyle Howarth.

HENDERSON INSURANCE SCORPIONS: David Howe, Joe Haines, Viktor Bergstr?m, Tero Aarnio, Ben Wilson, Thomas J?rgensen, Steve Worrall.