WHILE this afternoon’s clash between unrecognisable Leicester and Swindon teams has drawn plenty of criticism, it represents a chance for Ashley Birks to prove a point.

Having made good progress during his first year of Elite League racing with Swindon last season, the Yorkshireman was controversially left off the Fast Track Riders list for the new season which eventually left him only able to race in the Premier League this season.

Birks steps into the Leicester team this afternoon as a guest for Nicolai Klindt, one of five regular riders missing from the match, and is determined to make the most of a rare opportunity back at the top level after his 2013 season was ended by a bad back injury.

“There are nowhere near enough meetings for me because it’s really hard to get a ride in the Elite League, but I’m still getting stronger and stronger after my injury,” he said.

“I’m working on things every meeting and trying to learn, but before my last meeting I had two weeks off and eight days off before the next one. When you’re racing you’re only on a bike for a minute so I’ve done eight minutes of riding in the last three weeks which isn’t good.

“This meeting is important to me, I want to score points every week. I don’t normally look at the line-ups and things like that, so I didn’t know so many riders were missing, or that it was even against Swindon.

“It’s a shame so many are missing but it’s probably good for me because I might score a few more points.”

After missing out this year, Birks has been given assurances he will be involved in the fast track scheme next year, but is taking nothing for granted.

“They’ve said that next year I will be included but I don’t know whether to believe them or not,” he said.

“Not being in his ruined my season, it really has, and I’m picking up the pieces of it now.”