ALUN Rossiter admits his Great Britain side will be hurt by the absence of world champion Tai Woffinden at next weekend’s Speedway of Nations Finals but has backed the remainder of his troops to rise to the challenge.

Woffinden has been sidelined since early June after suffering a fractured vertebra and broken shoulder blade sustained in a crash while racing in Poland, but his absence from the Speedway of Nations Finals was only confirmed last week with the announcement of the teams for the event in Russia, which takes place on July 20-21.

Former Grand Prix regular Chris Harris steps into replace him to join stand-in skipper Craig Cook and U21 rider Robert Lambert, with that pair having combined with Woffinden to help GB qualify for the Finals with victory in Race-Off 2.

Woffinden’s absence will be hard felt in Togliatti as the 28-year-old won his third individual world title last year and excelled at the Speedway of Nations Finals 12 months ago as GB claimed a silver medal behind Russia.

Team manager Rossiter, who is also in charge of Swindon Robins in the SGB Premiership, knows his team will be up against it to repeat their silver medal-winning heroics of last year but expects his remaining riders to raise their game in Woffinden’s absence.

“Of course we’re going to be impacted because we are missing our number one,” said Rossiter.

“It’s just one of those things that happens in speedway. Tai needs to do the right thing for himself and get back fit.

“I am confident the other boys will step up to the mark and give it 100 per cent when they get out there.

“We need to go there believing in ourselves and see what we can do.”

Rossiter expects a certain number of eyebrows to be raised by his decision to call up veteran Harris in favour of youngster Dan Bewley, who joined Lambert and Cook on the podium at the British Final last year.

However, the GB boss says Harris’ experience combined with Bewley still showing the after effects of a horror crash late last season meant the selection of the 36-year-old was the logical one in the circumstances.

“I haven’t seen too much on social media but I am sure there are a few grumbles about Chris Harris,” said Rossiter.

“If I had to put Dan Bewley in, I would have no problem doing that, but Dan is still coming back after an injury and I don’t think he is quite at the same level that he was last year.

“A big accident like that is going to have an impact on his confidence. He is getting there, but if there are other options, this isn’t a meeting that you’d want to throw him in.

“It’s not just some other meeting, it’s the world championship against top riders from all the other nations.

“It is fine to say the youngsters should be blooded, but I don’t think a meeting like this is the right time or place.

“Chris isn’t there for old time’s sake. He is there because he is doing well.

“He has qualified for the Grand Prix Challenge along with Craig and Robert. On current form, they are the top three Brits without Tai.”