Newcomer is likely to ride for Tigers - but not tonight

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Sheffield are on the verge of making a new signing to replace Ashley Birks – although not in time for tonight’s Premier League clash with Berwick at Owlerton (7.30).

Birks has been ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury sustained in the League Cup semi-final at Glasgow.

Tigers will utilise the rider replacement facility tonight – where his four programmed rides can be allocated to his team mates. Club co-boss Damian Bates said: “We can’t go the rest of the season with two riders missing; we are actively talking to riders. We’ve got Craig Cook booked for the Berwick match and he comes in for Simon Stead so he’s a solid choice of guest, particularly after his impressive display at Cardiff’s Grand Prix. But we’re hoping for a new signing in the next week. It’s likely to be for Ash and it could well be a newcomer to British racing.”

Tonight’s meeting is important to keep Sheffield’s play-off push going. “We can’t afford any slip-ups” said Bates.“We need to keep winning home meetings and if we do that and collect points on the road I’m confident we’ll make the play-offs, which will be good after everything we’ve been through.”

Sheffield have lost Stead, David Bellego and now Birks through injury at different times this season – and Ty Proctor was sent home to Australia over a visa issue which means over half the team has been taken out.

Berwick include USA World Cup racer Ryan Fisher for the injured Ben Barker and they will use rider replacement for Claus Vissing.

Owlerton specialist Richard Hall, a former Sheffield man, is sure to be a threat in the reserve position.

SHEFFIELD: Craig Cook, Ashley Birks R/R, David Bellego, Jason Garrity, Andre Compton, Arthur Sissis, Josh Bates.

BERWICK: Ryan Fisher, Fernando Garcia, Claus Vissing R/R, Thomas Jorgensen, Kevin Doolan, Liam Carr, Richard Hall.