PLYMOUTH Gladiators speedway team have suffered a huge blow with big winter signing and new number one Nico Covatti injured in a crash in Argentina.

Covatti was due to make his return to UK racing with the Gladiators in the Cab Direct Championship this season and was continuing his winter preparation in the International Speedway Championship.

But he was involved in a frightening incident with former Sheffield rider Facundo Albin in the Final of the ninth round, as both came down heavily on the exit of the second bend.

Whilst Albin appears to have avoided serious injury, pending further scans, Covatti suffered arm and leg fractures with surgery to come tomorrow.

He told local media La Nueva: “We will have to think about when the return to Italy will be after the operation. 

“We are evaluating having my wife come with the baby, and thus be a little more contained here.

“Right now, it’s about being as united as possible. 

“In Italy I will start with rehabilitation and, from there, by the spring of Europe I will be able to start touring.”

The Gladiators side was due to include Covatti as their number one alongside Ben Barker, Alfie Bowtell, Kyle Newman, Jacob Hook and the Thompson twins, Dan and Joe. 

But with their first meeting against Poole on March 30 in the BSN Series, Gladiators team manager Garry May now has a real job on his hands to find a replacement for Covatti.