SWINDON Robins team manager Alun Rossiter thinks 2019 can be a breakout year for James Shanes after making the young Brit the sixth rider on his roster for the coming season.

The 21-year-old will make his return to SGB Premiership level with the Robins after being dropped by Poole Pirates early in the 2018 campaign.

Shanes impressed during his debut season with Poole in 2017, but was unable to match those heights the following year and the Pirates opted to make an early change to their line-up.

After a strong season for Sheffield Tigers in the Championship last term, Rossiter is sure Shanes is more than capable of stepping back up to the top tier.

Although a hefty share of his points allocation for 2019 has gone on his top five riders, Rossiter believes that with Shanes at reserve, Swindon can still produce the goods at the bottom of the order too.

“I think a few people will look at it and say we are going down the same route of a top-heavy team and will be weak at the bottom, but I think James will improve us a lot next year,” said Rossiter.

“Having spoken to him, he feels he is not the James Shanes who was at Poole. Lots of things have improved and he has moved forward.

“He benefitted a lot from riding in the Championship last season and he feels next year is going to be a big breakthrough for him.

“People like him just endear themselves to the fans.

“He was a big favourite at Wimborne Road and I know there were quite a few Poole fans who were upset when they dropped him.

“It is a numbers game, unfortunately, and if you can make the change, that’s what happens in this game.

“I am confident in him and he will do a good job for us this year.”

The Robins are still working on their final rider for 2019 and hope to conclude a deal to bring Zach Wajtknecht back to the Abbey Stadium for a third season in a row next year.

Rossiter says the potential pairing of Shanes and fellow British youngster Wajtknecht at reserve for Swindon has the makings on a strong combination.

“If we can pair James and Zach up, I think that will be really good,” said Rossiter.

“They grew up together racing on the grass track, then they came into speedway at the same time, so they have been sparring against each other.

“If we were to sign Zach, they would be riding together as a team so hopefully they will want to out-do each other.

“That will bring the best out of them as they will be spurring each other on.”