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Hello once again ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the fourth instalment of my 2017 season preview. I hope you're all enjoying reading it as much as I am writing it. This time out we take a look at two of the leagues stronger looking sides, the Ipswich Witches and the Newcastle Diamonds.

Since joining the second tier of British speedway, the Ipswich Witches have always put together strong looking sides which it would be fair to say, have fallen somewhat short of expectation. This season's septet certainly looks strong enough to challenge for honours and only time will tell if 2017 will finally be their year.

Their team is lead by a man who needs absolutely no introduction, British Champion Danny King, a rider capable of beating absolutely anyone on his day and you would expect to see his name near the top of the averages all season long. Good for double figures everywhere, that is exactly what the Witches management will be expecting and I've no doubts that he will deliver.

Danny King can't win meetings on his own though, and to be fair it looks like he has plenty of back up. Italian star Nico Covatti has done a good job for the Witches since coming on board and stepped it up to become the main back up to King last season. Again, more of the same will be expected from him in 2017.

Rory Schlein is a rider we haven't seen at this level for a good few years but he is a classy performer, although much will depend upon how well he bounces back from the horrible injuries he has sustained over the last couple of seasons. Many riders would have called it a day and nobody would have blamed them, but Rory Schlein is determined to make his comeback a successful one, and if he can recapture the form he is capable of, he could be a bit of a masterstroke signing for the Witches.

Another newcomer to the Witches side is Kyle Newman, a rider who tends to be loyal to his clubs given his long association with Poole and Plymouth. I personally think the change will do him the world of good and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him add to his starting average and improve. The top five is completed by Australian Cameron Heeps, who returns to the Witches after a year away at Rye House, where he continued to make steady progress.

While the top five looks potentially as strong as any in the league, the bottom end of the side looks a little weaker. Probably the least experienced reserve pairing in the league, Danyon Hume and Connor Mountain will have plenty of experienced guys around them to help out, but they will be the guys required to score the points.

Now whilst it's difficult to pick out a key man as it were, I do feel that the Witches will be relying heavily on their top end firepower, but they will need at least one of their young reserves to really step up if they are to be the success story of 2017.

On to Newcastle now and the Diamonds are another side full of top end firepower, with young British star Robert Lambert leading the side once more. Their is absolutely no doubting his potential and if he is to become the star of the future he is tipped to be, then I feel that 2017 has to be the year he becomes a dominant force at this level.

He will be backed up all the way by Steve Worrall, who is fast becoming one of the most reliable performers in the league, not to bad for a guy who was a three point reserve and low on confidence not too long ago. Ludvig Lindgren returns to Brough Park once more where he is part of the fixtures and fittings and will be fully expected to provide the back up to the top two.

The middle and lower order of the side looks potentially weak in my opinion, with Lewis Rose and Ashley Morris holding down second string positions. Rose is a rider I like watching but he has been most unlucky with injuries in his career, but if he can remain fit then there is no reason he can't make that position his own.

Ashley Morris has been on the go a few years now and hasn't really progressed as much as I thought he might. With that being said he is a wholehearted and determined rider which makes him popular everywhere he rides. If he can hold down and solidify himself in that second string position, he will have made massive strides forward and perhaps the switch to Newcastle is exactly the tonic for that. The Diamonds have a habit of unearthing hidden gems, as it were.

Young Connor Coles steps us as the two point reserve and given time he should improve. His father Michael was a top rider at this level and Connor will be looking to follow in his fathers footsteps.

The key man in the Newcastle side for me though is Danny Phillips. The Diamonds management took a punt on him as their three pointer last season and this season he needs to step up to lead reserve. Should he do better and step up to second string, that will allow either Ashley Morris or Lewis Rose to drop down, giving the Diamonds a real sting in the tail.

As always if you wish to agree, or disagree with the Mythman then you can always email me Mythman666@hotmail.com. I'm more than happy to hear opinions or ideas for features. Next up on the Mythman season preview is the Panthers of Peterborough and those Bears down Redcar way!

Until next time...and there will be a next time.

Right I'll hae'tae gan

Mythman