So solid crew at Shielfield

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BERWICK Bandits have announced a solid squad for the 2013 season.

“This team has been assembled in accordance with our budgetary needs,” said promoter Dennis McCleary. “The Premier League has insisted on riders’ pay being capped and our team for next season have all accepted the absolutely-necessary terms.”

Returning to lead the side is Ricky Ashworth, the Manchester-based track star who was outstanding for the Shielfield outfit last season until a simple-looking crash during the visit of Somerset in August damaged his shoulder, sidelining him for the rest of the term.

Another fans’ favourite coming back is 24-year-old Kozza Smith. Due to return last campaign, he suffered a badly-broken femur in an horrific pile-up during the Australian championships in January, forcing him to miss the entire British season.

“He’s fit, for sure,” announced team boss Ian Rae. “Back in the saddle again, and in his first two events Down Under, Kozza was firstly crowned as NSW long-track champion, and then last week went one better and lifted the Australian national title as well.”

Also joining the club in 2013 will be former Edinburgh skipper Matthew Wethers, seeking fresh fields after a hugely-successful decade with the Monarchs. Still only 27, he has been a regular thorn in Bandits’ side on his visits over the years.

Joining these three will be a trio of popular Scandanavians, all returning to the Bandits.

Swedes Robin Aspegren and Alex Edberg will be accompanied by Danish starlet Nicky Barrett, who proved a hit with fans after joining the club in September.

The final part of manager Rae’s jigsaw is taken up by young Frenchman David Bellego, confirmed as a club asset after a season-long tug-of-war with Glasgow.

“I think Ian has done a magnificent job in putting such a solid team together,” said director John Anderson.

The Tweedmouth track has been announced as the venue for the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund’s now-traditional curtain raiser – The Ben Fund Bonanza – on March 9.