Latvian Andrej Lebedev to make King’s Lynn Stars’ bow at Coventry Bees
- Credit: Archant
King's Lynn Stars team boss Rob Lyon is looking forward to handing Latvian Andrej Lebedev his debut in English speedway tonight.
The 18-year-old will make his Elite League bow at Coventry Bees after replacing David Howe in the Norfolk Arena club's line-up. The highly-rated teenager was close to signing for Poole Pirates earlier this year and has shone for his country and in individual competition.
Lyon admits he can't wait to see what his new arrival does when he finally dons the Stars' colours for the first time tonight at the Brandon Stadium.
'We've been looking at him, monitoring him and speaking about him for a few weeks,' said Lyon.
'He obviously was going to go to Poole, there was a problem, and now he's here. It's been a long drawn-out process. He wanted to come to the UK to broaden his experience and make him a better rider and we're more than happy to accommodate him.
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'We've watched him ride and he comes highly recommended. He's one of the next breed of young stars coming up through the ranks of the Eastern European speedway scene, which is fast emerging. He's got good pedigree and ability and rides in Poland and has qualified for the world and European under-21 finals. Rory (Schlein) has ridden against him a couple of times and has come back with glowing references.
'It's going to be difficult for him. The tracks are different, the surface material is different and the shapes are slightly different.
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'There's always the chance he might hit the ground running but he might take time to settle. That's the gamble you take and we feel we have signed a good-un. If he settles I'm confident it will be a win-win for all involved.'
Lebedev arrives at reserve on a 4.50 average and comes into the side at the expense of Howe who wants to concentrate on his Premier League racing with Scunthorpe. He only returned to Saddlebow Road, on a temporary basis, last month, and Lyon was quick to praise him for filling in when the Stars were hampered by a string of injuries.
'I'd like to thank David for coming in and taking that difficult position in the team,' said the Lynn boss, who is still without sidelined captain Mads Korneliussen.
'David started off quite promisingly and it was always up to him to grasp the opportunity. Unfortunately, and he'd be the first to admit, that he's suffered with crashes and niggling injuries and his form has certainly struggled of late.
'He's a good guy, a great person, and I totally understand the situation. He wants to concentrate on his job with Scunthorpe but you never say never. If he rides to the level we both know he can operate at he could be back in the Elite League with us.'
Lynn, third, beat Coventry 49-41 at home in April but sixth-places Bees have won all of their last three meetings on their own shale.
Skipper Scott Nicholls looks likely to return to their line-up this evening but in-form Polish ace Krzysztof Kasprzak is on Grand Prix qualifying duty. Birmingham number one Danny King will guest in his absence.
Lyon added: 'Coventry have a little bit of form and confidence breeds a winning mentality in any sport. I think they would say though, given the nature of the fixture with a GP qualifier on the night, they're probably not as strong as they would want to be.
'That's no disrespect to those who are riding for them though. We're without Mads so there's a few question marks for us and I'd say it's fairly even. We've got every chance of coming away with a result and a few more league points.'
Coventry: 1 Danny King (Guest), 2 Rider/Replacement, 3 Grzegorz Zengota, 4 Stuart Robson, 5 Scott Nicholls, 6 Ludvig Lindgren, 7 Michal Szczepaniak
Lynn: 1 Niels-Kristian Iversen, 2 R/R, 3 Simon Stead, 4 Seb Alden, 5 Rory Schlein, 6 Richie Worrall, 7 Andrej Lebedev