OXFORD Cheetahs have confirmed that their squad will again be led by Sam Masters next season, while Scott Nicholls returns for a third campaign.

The two riders are among six retained from the 2023 end-of-season play-off squad which ultimately missed out on the Championship grand final after a four-point aggregate defeat to Glasgow Tigers.

Also returning is Jordan Jenkins, who captained Oxford Chargers to National League glory last month, plus Henry Atkins and Cameron Heeps, who has been ever-present for Cheetahs since the club returned in April last year.

Completing Peter Schroeck’s side are teenage duo Ashton Boughen and Luke Killeen.

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Schroeck said that qualifying for the play-offs will again be the goal for the Cheetahs.

“We’re delighted with the squad we have built for next season and already can’t wait to get going,” he said.

“The atmosphere in the camp this season was really positive, and unlike any teams I have worked with previously.

“We decided to prioritise keeping as many familiar faces as possible, so to have six of our play-off squad back, plus Luke who played a key role in the first half of Cheetahs’ campaign this year, is very pleasing.

“Just like last season, qualifying for the end-of-season play-offs will be our first goal. We have a nice blend of youth and experience, plus riders who are already familiar with one another. That should count for a lot both on and off track where championships are won.”

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Club captain Nicholls described his decision to commit again to the Cheetahs as a ‘no-brainer’.

He said: “I’ve really enjoyed my two seasons with Oxford to date and re-signing was a no-brainer for me.

“Being back is great and I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the management and supporters, who have really bought into the club’s regeneration.

“We were all gutted to miss out on a spot in the grand final this season, but having six of the seven from that night in Glasgow back on board for next year only fuels our desire to go one better in 2024, and the countdown to March is very much on.”

Cheetahs entered last season’s play-off second leg meeting with Glasgow knowing they were required to post 41 points, in order to guarantee a spot in the grand final against Poole Pirates.

However, Schroeck’s side fell three points short as they lost 52-38 north of the border, and 92-88 on aggregate.

Chargers meanwhile ended Oxford Speedway’s 18-year wait for silverware after being crowned National League champions, in overcoming the defending champions Leicester Lion Cubs at Oxford Stadium.

It was Oxford Speedway’s first league championship since the Oxford Academy won the Conference League in 2005.