SCOTT Nicholls will make a difference for Oxford Cheetahs on his return tonight, says Peter Schroeck.

The skipper has missed the last three meetings through injury but is set to be involved against Plymouth Gladiators at Sandy Lane (7.30pm).

Nicholls was sidelined for a trio of tight affairs, with Cheetahs beating Glasgow Tigers before losing to Edinburgh Monarchs and Leicester Lions.

The two defeats harmed their SGB Championship play-off hopes and coach Schroeck reckons it would have been a different story with the captain available.

He said: “If we’d have had Scott with us we probably would have won against Leicester.

“He’s the sort of rider that can handle the pressure when it comes to the crunch.

“When we haven’t got him we certainly feel it.

“We can’t turn the clock back, but we’ve got to be positive and put some good meetings together for our fans.”

Teenager Luke Killeen is set to return at reserve, while Cheetahs may use rider replacement for Paul Starke, who injured his thumb riding in the SGB Premiership for Ipswich Witches.

The hosts are eight points shy of the play-off places with only three meetings left, but Schroeck is not giving up hope just yet.

“Things happen in speedway,” he said.

“The pressure is off us because all we can do is win all our meetings.

“It’s for the others to slip up and us to gain.”