Tigers sweat on Birks shoulder verdict

SHEFFIELD will await a late decision from reserve Ashley Birks before finalising their line-up for tomorrow’s important Premier League trip to Newcastle (6.30pm).

Birks withdrew from Tigers’ comfortable home win over Plymouth on Thursday owing to a recurrence of a shoulder injury, and he was replaced by Ben Hopwood.

His absence did not cause the Owlerton side any great alarms against the bottom-placed Devils, but Sheffield need to be at full strength if at all possible for their forthcoming away matches.

Team boss Eric Boocock said: “We’ll give Ashley as much time as possible to decide whether he’ll be fit, and we have to trust his judgement.

“The problem is that the main remedy for an injury such as this is rest, and that’s not easy when he has such a busy schedule of meetings that he needs to be riding in!

“It’s not a new thing in speedway. I remember back in the late 60s when Rick France was racing for Sheffield and had a similar injury. He ended up having to have an operation, which might be a route Ashley looks to go down eventually.

“And then on Thursday at Owlerton, Plymouth lost Lee Smart in the early stages of the meeting because of exactly the same problem.

“But it’s up to the rider himself to decide whether he’s going to be ready to race.

“Whatever, we’ll certainly go there looking for a positive result.”

Sheffield go into the weekend seven points behind leaders Glasgow, who are title favourites, but an away win would enhance Tigers’ chances of holding off Workington and the rest of the pack.

Newcastle are in the lower regions, but Danish youngster Rene Bach is recently back after a broken leg,