LEWIS Blackbird is ready to soar back into the Mildenhall Fen Tigers team and lead his side to their first trophy of the season.
The Tigers’ skipper has recovered more quickly than expected from a shoulder injury and should line up in his team’s National League encounter with Rye House on Sunday (4.30pm) before travelling to the Dudley Heathens on Tuesday for the National Shield second leg (7.30pm).
Mildenhall hold a one-point lead going into the tie and Blackbird has backed his boys to finish the job.
“The physio has given me the thumbs up because my shoulder has healed really quickly,” he said. “The boys have been doing awesome in my absence – every single one of them.
“Joe Jacobs and Danny Halsey have stepped their game up and they don’t even look like they need me, but I’ll muscle my way in and score some points.
“Hopefully we can keep this form up because on our day we can beat anybody.”
With the Tigers’ form so good at the beginning of 2012, many speedway fans are expecting them to go on and clinch the National League title this campaign, creating a new sort of pressure for Robert Henry’s young charges.
Blackbird said: “Being favourites doesn’t bother me – I thrive on that pressure. Nathan Stoneman is definitely doing the business and Josh Bates will score more as the season goes on and he gets used to a 500cc bike – towards the end of the year he is going to be a real asset for us.”
While the Tigers’ captain was sidelined through injury, a great tragedy struck the sport when Lakeside Hammers skipper Lee Richardson died following a crash in Poland.
Blackbird and team-mate Cameron Heeps attended the Hammers’ Elite League fixture with the Swindon Robins on Friday – marked as a special tribute night to ‘Rico’.
“When it happened I was gutted,” said Blackbird.
“It was something that was really hard to take in.
“I didn’t know him, but seeing his family down at Lakeside was horrible.
“It really does make you think about it and that it could happen.
“As much as you try not to think about it, it’s in the back of your mind and makes you realise how dangerous it is.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers will continue their defence of the National League Knockout Cup with a mouthwatering clash against their biggest rivals from 2011, Stoke Potters, in this year’s semi-finals.
In the other tie, Dudley will face the Isle of Wight.
Co-promoter Michael Lee said: “In some ways it doesn’t matter who you face at this stage, everyone wants to win a trophy.
“Like last year, Stoke will be no pushovers, and after we scuppered their double winning chances, they’ll be even more determined to beat us this time around.
“But as long as we dig deep I’m confident we can do it, and take a big step to keeping the cup here at West Row.”
Mildenhall’s home leg of the semi-final has been pencilled in for August 26.
n The rained off league fixtures against Buxton have now been rearranged. The Hitmen will visit West Row on June 24, with the Fen Tigers making the trip to Derbyshire on July 29.