Sheffield speedway ace breaks back in freak sledging accident

Josh Bates
Josh Bates
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Sheffield Tigers will hold fire on making a new signing until they have a firm idea of how long Josh Bates will be out.

Bates crashed when sledging with pals on Thursday and suffered a broken vertebrae after landing on a brick hidden by the snow.

He was booked in for surgery and the full extent of the damage will be established before Sheffield, and his Premiership side Leicester, make a decision on dipping into the transfer market.

Damien Bates, his uncle and Sheffield co-promoter, said: “The amount of times he’s crashed in speedway and nothing like this has ever happened.

“That said, when they x-rayed his back there was some other damage from previous injuries showing up but nothing serious, just wear and tear.

“He was out with friends on Thursday and jumped on the sledge but landed on a brick covered up by the snow.

“You can’t tell these lads. As speedway riders they love to live life on the edge and Josh was out having fun with friends.

“It’s a freak accident. He’s never suffered this in the time he’s been riding speedway, one of the most extreme sports there is, and yet he gets hurt like this when out on a sledge.

“First and foremost our thoughts are with the lad himself and I know how devastated he is as he knows he’ll be missing the start of the season.

“But we also have to make a decision from a Sheffield perspective. Once we know how long he’s likely to be out of the sport we can look at it and see who may become available.

“Obviously we have to keep Josh’s team spot open for him and we need to take everything into consideration, but for the moment we will sit tight and see what the actual diagnosis is.”

Tigers don’t open their season until April 5 when they face Newcastle at Owlerton in the newly named Championship Shield – formerly the League Cup.

But he will definitely miss Simon Stead’s farewell meeting at Owlerton on March 25 and Leicester’s opening night with Somerset the following evening.