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Speed way: Bees blow as Nicholls is ruled out; SPEEDWAY: Grand Prix crash causes problems for derby double against Wolves.

Byline: By David Rowe

COVENTRY have to cope with the loss of inspirational skipper Scott Nicholls if they are to secure victory in a vital derby against Wolverhampton at Brandon tonight (8pm).

Nicholls is undergoing laser treatment after an operation earlier in the week on the thumb he broke in last Saturday's spectacular crash at the Italian Grand Prix, and he definitely misses the fixture as well as Monday's return at Monmore Green.

Bees' options for choosing guests have been severely limited by the amount of racing taking place elsewhere, and while ex-Coventry man Lee Richardson steps in tonight, coboss Peter Oakes has admitted that things are looking even more difficult for Monday.

He said: "It is beginning to look as if we will have to use rider replacement in the return, simply because there isn't a suitable guest available.

"Many British-based riders now go straight from meetings in Poland on the Sunday to Sweden on the Tuesday.

"We were down to choosing a rider with an average that is nearly four points a meeting lower than Scott's.

"In many ways, some clubs have a distinct advantage when it comes to choosing guests, depending on their raceday, and perhaps it would be fairer to all clubs if you had to operate rider replacement, therefore filling in with your own riders."

Richardson has been in good form for Swindon of late, and Bees will hope that he can carry that on against a Wolves side which has only won one away match this season - but is full of potential danger-men.

Top of that list has to be ex-Coventry captain Billy Hamill, while Fredrik Lindgren and Peter Karlsson are also proven race winners at Brandon and David Howe is enjoying something of a renaissance having rejoined his parent club after a season's loan at Oxford.

Bees have Olly Allen dropping back to reserve for the first time this season - he missed the last fixture at Poole with a neck muscle injury, but rode in Germany last weekend and should have benefited from the extended break after a luckless campaign so far.

Allen's scoring allied to that of Martin Smolinski in the other reserve position could well turn out to be the key factor in what should be a keenly fought encounter.

FORMER Bees star Stuart Robson has been transferred by air ambulance to University Hospital, Walsgrave, after suffering a broken pelvis, spinal injuries and broken breast bone in a horrific smash at Mildenhall on Sunday.

Robson underwent emergency surgery at a hospital in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday night and was kept in a high dependency unit until doctors decided he was well enough to be transferred yesterday. He is expected to undergo a further operation today.

The 30-year-old, who now rides for Hertford-shire club Rye House, still lives in the Coventry area.

MATCH PACK

BUILDBASE BEES v WOLVERHAMPTON

Lee Richardson 1 Peter Karlsson

Billy Janniro 2 David Howe

Rory Schlein 3 Billy Hamill

Morten Risager 4 Theo Pijper

Chris Harris 5 Fredrik Lindgren

Olly Allen 6 Carl Wilkinson

Martin Smolinski 7 Magnus Karlsson

LAST TIME OUT

WOLVES' last visit ended in drama as the destination of the Midland Trophy effectively changed hands on the last bend of the last race. Bees needed a 5-1 from Heat 15 but were set to concede a 4-2 until leader Fredrik Lindgren fell with the finish line in sight, and Peter Karlsson was impeded allowing Scott Nicholls and Rory Schlein to snatch a popular win for Coventry.

VIEWPOINT

NICHOLLS' injury makes this an awkward fixture for Bees, with the two sides looking very evenlymatched on paper.

Coventry's strong home form should see them through, but there will be little room for error against a Wolves side who have been in good form recently - although they haven't won at Brandon in their last six visits.

CAPTION(S):

BROKEN THUMB... Nicholls; BRANDON RETURN... Former Bees rider Lee Richardson, who has been in good form for Swindon and steps in as a guest for tonight's clash with Wolves.
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 4, 2007
Words:670
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