A speedway rider left unconscious following a crash has breathed on his own, his family said last night.
Ricky Ashworth, the Berwick Bandits star, has also been able to “slightly” move his tongue, according to his sister.
Ricky suffered head injuries while riding for the team at Scunthorpe earlier this month.
He was taken to hospital in Hull where his condition has since been described as serious but stable.
But his sister Jade Ashworth has taken to the social networking site Twitter to update supporters on his progress, saying: “Today Ricky has been able to breathe on his own and slightly moved his tongue!, still in a coma but it’s a very good sign! Fingers crossed”
A Bandits spokesman yesterday said Ricky’s condition “remained exactly the same”.
“He is still sleeping for want of a better word. They are just waiting,” he added.
Ricky, 30, who comes from Salford, Greater Manchester, joined the Premier League team last year after previously riding for Sheffield Tigers. Meanwhile, the Bandits have announced that they hope to have former rider Sebastian Alden replace Ricky as number one rider at their meeting this Saturday as they prepare for the remainder of the season without him.
Before Christmas, Alden had told the club he wanted to concentrate on Elite League racing only in 2013.
Bosses reluctantly allowed the Swede to join King’s Lynn in the senior division and he later retired from British racing altogether.
However, after learning of Ricky’s injuries, he has offered to return.
Bandits team manager Ian Rae said: “As soon as news about Ricky reached Seb, he contacted us.
“Firstly to inquire about his former team-mate’s wellbeing of course and then, after thinking about it, to offer to come back and ride as a Bandit again if we were going to be short-handed.
“This came right out of the blue, but after discussing the matter with manager Rob Lyon at King’s Lynn – who was sympathetic about the situation – and talking it though with everyone, we have elected to bring Seb back in as an injury replacement if the authorities give us the all-clear.
“One nice thing to hear was Seb telling us he was only offering to come back to race in Britain as it was for Berwick.”
Meanwhile, the Bandits’ 2012 supporters’ club has announced that funds raised at its end-of-season riders’ presentation will be given to the stricken Ricky.
The event takes place at the Black and Gold on September 14 at 7.30pm and features music from the Joe Mangels, a disco and an auction of speedway goodies.
Tickets are £10, including food and raffle entry, and are available from the track shop and Youngman’s Carpets.