Witches are making ‘good progress’ on a replacement for Covatti, says team boss Ritchie Hawkins

My golfing pal Ritchie Hawkins, right, talks to Chris Louis.

My golfing pal Ritchie Hawkins, right, talks to Chris Louis. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins has said he is still confident the Suffolk side will make the play-offs despite a crippling injury list that has marred the start of the 2017 campaign.

The Witches were one of the bookies’ favourites to win the Championship this season, when their 1-7 was announced in March.

However, injuries to Kyle Newman, Nico Covatti and Danyon Hume have decimated the side.

And while Newman is back in the fold and would have ridden in to night’s called off clash against Berwick Bandits at Foxhall – his debut for the Witches – Covatti and Hume are long-term out.

“Well, what can I say?,” Hawkins said, after the meeting with the Bandits was called off at 7pm, with rain still falling.

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“I don’t really know how much more bad luck we can have. But the season is still young and we have had just about everything possible thrown at us so far.

“The play-offs are still very much our aim, no reason why not.

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“We are making good progress in a replacement for Nico Covatti, although Danyon’s injury is more of a problem for us as we only have about 2.4 points to play with to replace him if we want to. He’s worth much more to us than that.

“But we are not panicking. I can assure you and me and Chris Louis will work our socks off to get the team sorted.”

Hume crashed out of the British U21 final at Poole on Wednesday night after his engine seized and he was ploughed into by King’s Lynn’s Josh Bailey, who had no-where to go.

A badly broken arm and dislocated elbow mean Hume is set for a long spell on the sidelines.

“I’m gutted for Danyon,” Hawkins admitted.

“He’s worked so hard this winter and he has come on so well. But I’m confident as a team we will soon be back to a strong top five and if Connor (Mountain) can keep improving as he is, we have alot to look forward to.”

Newman will now make his Witches debut on Saturday night at Berwick, where Ipswich race next, after tonight’s call off.

The Witches will use rider replacement for Covatti, while Jack Parkinson-Blackburn takes Hume’s place.

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