We’re the underdogs now, warns Chapman

King's Lynn co-promoter Jonathan Chapman insists Birmingham are favourites for tomorrow's rain delayed Premier Trophy final, first leg at Perry Barr (6pm).

King's Lynn co-promoter Jonathan Chapman insists Birmingham are favourites for tomorrow's rain delayed Premier Trophy final, first leg at Perry Barr (6pm).

Brummies' chief Graham Drury labelled the hosts 'massive underdogs' in the pre-meeting sparring, but Chapman warns the final is firmly in the balance after Birmingham's recent capture of Austrian Manuel Hauzinger and Peterborough asset Henrik Moller.

"Will all the recent rain offs this has now become a lot tougher," said Chapman. "I think we could struggle to win there, although we will go with a lot of confidence. We want to keep it tight. Moller is a quality rider and the Austrian was a guy I had a look at in the past with what he was doing on the continent.

"Newcastle brought him over and he didn't really settle but Birmingham looks to suit him and he's now got a couple more years' experience."

Paul Lee will undergo a late fitness test after suffering bruising to his wrist and ribs in a heavy crash against Redcar. Lee missed the midweek Premier League win over Somerset at the Norfolk Arena.

"It's still touch and go - we'll wait until the last possible moment," confirmed Chapman. "We want him 100pc - not 90pc. The wrist is fine now; he's just having trouble breathing. With that type of injury there can be a lot of improvement in a couple of days. The good thing is nothing was broken, but if you can't breathe properly then there's no way you can ride a bike like that."

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Lynn will employ rider replacement if Lee is ruled out. Chapman is backing Trevor Harding to provide solid support to the champions' powerful front two in Lee's potential absence. Harding's tactical ride duel with Aussie world team cup star Chris Holder was the highlight of Lynn's Somerset success.

"Trevor has really stepped up to the plate," said Chapman. "He wants that number five jacket and Paul could have a job on his hands. He might have a similar average to Paul and Chris Mills but home and away this season Trevor has probably been our third heat leader. We know at home if we're leading a meeting the opposition look to use a tactical in heat 11.

"He knew that was going to happen as well - we'd spoken about it before the meeting, but he was so focused. The guy just flew out of the gate and held on. I was really proud of him because he showed a lot of skill."

Birmingham completed a mini northern tour at Edinburgh last night with a 48-44 defeat, after winning on Teeside 48 hours earlier.

"I guess they'll be race fit and if they put in two good displays they'll come back buzzing," said Chapman. "But there's always a risk of injury so it can work both ways, and if they suffered any blown engines then they'd have no chance to get them re-tuned for the final."

Brummies' boss Drury is full of respect for the cup holders.

"Of course we know it's going to be hard going against King's Lynn," he said. "They've put together a powerful team and we start the final as underdogs, but my riders are going to be well and truly up for it.

"This is the big one, we obviously want to climb the league table, but we also want to win some silverware and I believe this would represent a magnificent achievement in our first season at Perry Barr."

Brummies: 1 Ulrich Ostergaard, 2 Ben Powell, 3 Jason Lyons, 4 Henrik Moller, 5 Emiliano Sanchez, 6 Lee Smart, 7 Manuel Hauzinger.

Stars: 1 Tomas Topinka, 2 Chris Mills, 3 Daniel Nermark, 4 R/R (Paul Lee), 5 Trevor Harding, 6 James Brundle, 7 Benji Compton.