WILL Pottinger is desperate to see his Cradley side build up a handy lead when they face King’s Lynn in what is now the first leg of the National Shield at Monmore next Tuesday (7.30).

Heathens are chasing a fourth successive success in the competition but for the first time are racing as defending league champions.

And following last week’s postponement of the first leg at the Norfolk Arena, Pottinger says his side have to go on the front foot from the start.

“It’s vital for us to build up a handy lead,” he said. “King’s Lynn were our nearest challengers for the league title last season and they’ve built a good side once again.

“We will have a full team available with no fixture clashes so I’m pleased about that and hopefully we can get into them early and build up a lead.”

Meanwhile, Pottinger is staying relaxed despite the trade magazine, Speedway Star, making Cradley firm favourite for the league title once again in their survey of journalists around the country.

He said: “We all know anything can happen during the course of a season and we need to just take every meeting as it comes along. It may sound boring but that’s the way it is.

“We know everyone will be out there to beat us because we are the champions and we have such a fantastic following, but it’s all about what shape we are in when September and October comes around.

“We’re looking forward to the season ahead and we just want to get some momentum going from here.”

Cradley were due to race against Coventry in the Travel Plus Trophy last night.