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Speedway: Lewis Blackbird leaves Leicester Lions

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It's one in and one out for the Leicester Lions tonight.

British under-21 champion Robert Brandford will make his debut at Somerset Rebels in the club's first Premier League away fixture of the season.

The 19-year-old takes the place of Lewis Blackbird. who has decided to leave, with Scunthorpe his likely destination.

"Lewis has asked to be allowed to move to another club where he will be guaranteed regular rides," said Lions co-promoter Alan Jones.

"Lewis was due to share a role with Robert, but the latter will now occupy one of the reserve positions on a full-time basis."

Blackbird made 25 appearances for the Lions. His best meeting came in the opening match of the season, a League Cup tie at Scunthorpe, where he collected 10 points to top-score with captain Kauko Nieminen.

"During the winter, we set out on a policy of creating opportunities for young British riders to step up from the National League and into the next tier of racing at Leicester," said Jones.

"Our initial entry before the start of the season did not get off the ground because Lewis Kerr, who was earmarked for a similar role, received an offer to go full-time at Newcastle.

"We were undeterred and never lost sight of repeating the initiative resulting in an agreement with Robert Branford.

"Unfortunately, we are back to square one again but we will park the idea for now and take stock of the situation at a later date."

The Harry Jordan Haulage-sponsored Lions will be looking to improve on previous visits to the Oak Tree Arena, which has never been a good hunting ground.

Somerset came within a whisker of being crowned Premier League champions last season, only to lose out in the very last meeting to Scunthorpe.

They have started the season in winning form and are currently top of the southern section in the League Cup, a competition they won last year.

Somerset: 1 Jason Doyle, 2 Kyle Newman, 3 Nick Morris 4 Alex Davies, 5 Josh Grajczonek, 6 Stefan Nielsen, 7 Tom Perry.

Leicester: 1 Kauko Nieminen, 2 Jan Graversen, 3 Lasse Bjerre, 4 Kevin Doolan 5 Magnus Karlsson 6 Robert Branford, 7 Simon Nielsen.

The future of British speedway is on show tomorrow at the Jordan Road Surfacing Stadium, when 41 riders take part in the British Youth Championships (5.30).

The competition is open to any British rider under the age of 16 and the series will be staged at six different venues throughout the season, starting at Leicester.

Home interested will be centred around the Lions' three mascots, Luke Whitehead and eight-year-old twins Dan and Joe Thompson, who making their first appearance in an official competition.

Speedway: Lewis Blackbird leaves Leicester Lions


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