Speedway: Leicester Lions unveil team for Premier League title charge
Leicester Lions have revealed their line-up for their 2013 Premier League campaign.
Four of the team that helped the club reach last season's play-offs are returning, while there also two new additions in Kevin Doolan and Adam Roynon.
Lions will be led by their popular captain, Kauko Nieminen, who has a big year ahead of him after being granted a testimonial meeting in recognition of his services to British speedway.
The exciting young Dane, Lasse Bjerre, has also confirmed he will be returning to Beaumont Park. The dashing teenager enjoyed a prosperous second-half to last season and will give the team a strong spearhead.
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Jan Graversen, the sole survivor from the original team that represented Leicester in April 2011, returns for a third year and is joined by his fellow countryman Simon Nielsen.
The Dane, who made a promising start for Leicester, had built up a large fan-base. But an injury in June brought his season to an end. Now fully fit, Nielsen will occupy one of the two reserve positions.
Lewis Blackbird, who captained the Mildenhall team that scooped four of the five major titles in the National League last season, will fill the No.7 berth.
Blackbird, who broke a collarbone racing for Lions against Newcastle in October, has recovered well and will spend the new year racing in Australia in readiness for his first full year in the Premier League.
Doolan, at the age of 32, has a wealth of experience. The Australian moved from Ipswich to Redcar in the autumn and helped transform the Bears into one of the in-form teams over the closing weeks of the season.
Doolan is joined by Adam Roynon, the Coventry Bees asset, who made a big impression last season at Workington where, along with team-mate Rene Bach, they won the Premier League Best Pairs competition.
Roynon, increased his match average by almost three points over the course of the season and scored 14 on his last visit to Beaumont Park.
That means there are no places for experienced Swede Magnus Karlsson, Jari Makinen and Linus Eklof.
Team manager Glyn Taylor said: "Since finding out a week ago that we are to spend another year in the Premier League it has been a non-stop round of talks with riders about racing for Leicester in 2013.
"I am pleased to say that I can now relax as all seven have confirmed their commitment to ride for the club.
"I believe we have a very competitive side to challenge for honours.
"I am looking forward to working with each and every one of them. I would also like to officially welcome Kevin and Adam to the club and thank the outgoing team members for helping to get us into the play-offs last season."
Lions: Kauko Nieminen (8.18); Lasse Bjerre (7.31); Kevin Doolan (7.29); Adam Roynon (7.07); Jan Graversen (4.91); Simon Nielsen (4.08); Lewis Blackbird (3.00) Total: 41.84.