Tuesday May 18, 2021
LEICESTER launch their National Development League title defence with a home clash against Eastbourne on Wednesday (7.30pm).

It’s a big night as the meeting also marks the welcome return of supporters to the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena for the first time since October 2019.

Thompson twins Dan and Joe are back from that victorious Roger Webster Lion Cubs side, and new skipper Joe Lawlor is another familiar face, but the league as a whole has undergone significant changes.

Aside from a far greater emphasis on youth development, the 2021 NDL title will be decided on the basis of the league table only, with no play-offs – in a bid to avert any possible fixture congestion in the autumn involving clubs operating at more than one level.

Eastbourne have followed Leicester’s example in entering a third-tier team alongside their Championship outfit, and the Seagulls look set to present a stern test.

Speedway returnee Jake Knight leads the side along with Henry Atkins and Richard Andrews, whilst Nathan Ablitt is highly rated at reserve.

The Cubs also hand debuts to Tom Spencer and Kai Ward, whilst rider-replacement is in operation for the injured Jamie Halder with a 28-day facility granted.

With new signing Ben Trigger not eligible until he turns 15 later this month, James Chattin – who would have been part of the team in 2020 – comes in as a guest.

Cubs boss Dave Howard said: “The sides have been built rather differently, but Eastbourne look to be strong opposition and are one of the pre-season favourites for the league, so it will be a good start to have.

“It’s been a long time with no speedway, so my message to the fans is to come back and see the action!

“We’ll put on the best show we can and look for those points to give us a good start to the season.”

Tickets must be purchased in advance via the club website, and supporters are also asked to familiarise themselves with the ‘code of conduct’ required to enable the club to stage meetings within the current restrictions. These are available at .

LEICESTER: Joe Lawlor, Jamie Halder r/r, Joe Thompson, Tom Spencer, Dan Thompson, Kai Ward, James Chattin.

EASTBOURNE: Jake Knight, Connor King, Chad Wirtzfeld, Richard Andrews, Henry Atkins, Nick Laurence, Nathan Ablitt.

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