TIGERS will face Elite League title hopefuls Birmingham in the Owlerton opener on March 28.
And in an ironic twist, the Brummies will include former Sheffield hero Ricky Ashworth in their side as cover for the unavailable Chris Harris.
Harris has a prior engagement on the night but Ashworth, who started his career with Sheffield in 2002, has agreed to step in.
Birmingham recently completed their side and are strongly fancied by many experts for the top flight title.
Great Britain international Danny King is skipper and he’s joined by former Swindon man Jason Doyle, who won the Elite League title last season.
Another former Tigers favourite, Josh Auty, is also in the Brummies side along with prolific scorer Ben Barker.
Their reserves are German ace Martin Smolinski and Argentinian Nico Covatti, who will face fellow countryman Facundo Albin on his Sheffield debut.
Said Tigers chief David Hoggart: “For a number of seasons we have brought an Elite League club to Owlerton for our opener, it’s proved a very popular move with Coventry, Wolverhampton and Belle Vue having visited, the latter a number of times.
“It’s all about dates and our relatively late start runs right into Belle Vue’s opener so we we have been unable to extend the invitation again this year.
“Chris Harris is already heavily committed but his unavailability could give us a headache with Birmingham drafting in former Tigers skipper Ricky, who is likely to ride at number two with Danny King moving up to the number one position.
“It does of course bring two former Tigers, Ashworth and Josh Auty up against Simon Stead, who will be making his debut for us. Josh doesn’t take any prisoners around Owlerton so it will be a baptism of fire for Simon.
“It should be a great opener and we’ve missed the Birmingham fans at Owlerton and are really looking forward to seeing the red and yellow on our terraces again.”
Meanwhile, new boy Jake Knight meets the fans at tonight’s (Thurs) latest STARS meeting. The venue is the New Barrack Tavern (7.30pm).