Sheffield Tigers face big challenge tonight

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TIGERS are facing up to one of the top teams in the Elite League when they race Birmingham in tonight’s Owlerton opener (7.45).

So says team boss David Hoggart who is tipping the Brummies to be in the play-offs for a second successive season.

Some Sheffield fans have questioned the wisdom of arranging a meeting against such powerful opposition.

But Hoggart said: “This is an opportunity for our supporters to see one of the top Elite teams and we had that in mind when arranging our opening night. It’s for the supporters as well as giving our boys the toughest of tests. Simon Stead, Richard Hall and Ricky Wells will relish the opportunity to face these guys. We know it will be hard but it also gives the boys the chance to iron out any problems before we go into our League Cup campaign at the weekend. And it will be good to see our former riders, Ricky Ashworth and Josh Auty, back.

Tigers have Facundo Albin, Damien Koppe and Jake Knight making their debut for the team - and GB star Simon Stead makes an emotional return to the club he last raced for in 2002.

Birmingham include Australian ace Jason Doyle, who has won the Elite League in the last two seasons with Poole and Swindon. They also have World Cup stars Danny King, Ben Barker and Martin Smolinski in their line-up.

SHEFFIELD: Simon Stead, Facundo Albin, Joe Haines, Richard Hall, Ricky Wells, Damien Koppe, Jake Knight.