NEWLY appointed Dudley Heathens skipper Ashley Morris is relishing an “exciting year” for the club and himself in 2013.

Morris, 18, returns for his fourth season with the former Cradley club where he will take over as skipper and also inherit the number one race jacket – and he realises the size of the task.

Said Morris: “It’s going to be an exciting year. Obviously when I first joined Dudley I was just a reserve, but I’ve worked my way up to number one and captain for 2013 so it’s a massive season for me.

“I want to score what a number one is meant to score – being at number five was hard last year but I’m confident I’m ready to make the step up to number one.”

The club management were faced with a tough decision between Morris and fellow fans favourite Tom Perry, and Morris admits he is gutted to see his team-mate leave in such fashion.

He remarked: “Obviously I’m looking forward to it; I’m just gutted about the situation at the moment.

“I just want people to understand that it wasn’t my decision between me and Tom.

“I got given an offer and I just had to take it really. I love riding for Dudley and I was excited by the prospect of being No.1 and captain – I just couldn’t turn it down.

“We’ve lost a lot of the lads and that’s a big shame because we had such a great team spirit last year. Hopefully all the lads will get different clubs in the National League and now we’ve just got to move on from there.

“Hopefully this year’s contingent at Dudley can be just as good on and off the track.”

Heathens experienced National League Grand Final heartache in 2012 – but Morris says his main aim is to take the title in 2013.

He added: “I’d absolutely love to be able to lead us to the title, and that has to be the main aim.

“I’ll just try and do my best all the time which is all I can do and hopefully the rest of the riders can do a fantastic job like last year’s team did.”