Tigers to gamble on youth as Bates gets the nod for Pairs

RETURNING HERO: Former Mildenhall Fen Tigers skipper Lewis Blackbird leads the way on his return to West Row as a guest for the Tigers on Sunday
RETURNING HERO: Former Mildenhall Fen Tigers skipper Lewis Blackbird leads the way on his return to West Row as a guest for the Tigers on Sunday
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The Mildenhall Fen Tigers have taken a gamble and opted for youth over experience in Sunday’s National League Pairs at West Row (4.30pm).

Officials at the club have decided to bring in teenager Josh Bates, over experienced campaigner Jon Armstrong, to replace Stefan Nielsen who will miss the meeting after breaking his collarbone while riding for Premier League side Somerset on Saturday.

The decision to pick Bates over Armstrong, who roared to a paid maximum for the club against the Isle of Wight on Sunday, to join captain Dan Halsey however was not an easy one according to co-promoter Kevin Jolly.

“It really was down to a toss of a coin as both riders wanted to be part of it and it could have gone either way,” said Jolly.

“While Jon is probably the more reliable rider, we have decided to go for the youth option as we are all about promoting young British talent at the club.

“I am sure Jon would have done a cracking job for us, but we have to give Josh a chance to prove he is up to the next level of competition.”

While the decision over who to include over Armstrong and Bates was a close call, there was no such problems in selecting in-form club captain Halsey.

“Dan is on fire at the moment and he seems to have an engine that is really working for him around the track so it made sense to put him in,” added Jolly.

“While Dan and Jon may have been a better team-riding pair, we are confident that Josh can do just as well.

“It looks set to be a cracking meeting with some fantastic pairs and in my eyes it is a much stronger field than last year.”

Halsey and Bates will bid to emulate the club’s victory in the competition last year gained by former Fen Tigers pair Lewis Blackbird and Cameron Heeps.

n The Tigers beat the Isle of Wight Islanders 50-40 in the National League on Sunday, with Blackbird returning to score 11 points as guest number one and Halsey and Armstrong bagging paid maximums.

n Mildenhall went down to a 55-36 defeat at the Dudley Heathens on Tuesday, with Bates (8+1) and Halsey (7+1) the Tigers’ top scorers in the away reversal.