Sheffield are hoping they can overcome the loss of their captain to build a first-leg lead over Newcastle in the Premier League Cup semi-final at Owlerton tonight (7.45pm).
Tigers take on the in-form Diamonds over two legs, with the second leg taking place on Sunday, but will have to cope without their number one Simon Stead, (broken leg.) Workington’s Richard Lawson is the man to replace Stead for both ties and Sheffield team boss David Hoggart believes he is the most capable replacement available.
He said: “If Richard has his gating head on he is unbeatable, on his day he will beat anybody in the league and we believe he’s the best guest we could bring in. We wanted Richard in for both the home and away legs for a bit of consistency, he’s excited to be part of the team for a cup semi-final and we’re confident he’ll do a good job for us.”
It is 13 days since the Tigers last took to the track, when they were demolished by Scunthorpe, but Hoggart doesn’t believe there’ll be any rustiness from his men.
He said: “All the guys have been racing, Damien Koppe and Joe Haines raced at Wolverhampton on Monday, Ricky Wells has had several guest bookings, Adam Roynon has been practicing, so there shouldn’t be any race-rust from them.
“It would be easy to write our season off but people forget we are in a cup semi-final, it’s a key trophy and we’re going to give it our very best shot. It’s going to be a great battle and one we are relishing.”
New boy Adam Roynon makes his debut for the Tigers while Argentine Facundo Albin drops to reserve.
SHEFFIELD: Richard Lawson (G), Joe Haines, Ricky Wells, Richard Hall, Adam Roynon, Damien Koppe, Facundo Albin.
NEWCASTLE: Stuart Robson, Christian Henry, Andrew Tully, Ludvig Lindgren, Richie Worrall, Chris Schramm, Lewis Kerr.