MATT Ford admitted Pirates could be forced into another temporary team change with Josh Grajczonek’s facial injuries potentially worse than first feared.

Grajczonek sustained a fractured eye socket, broken nose and cracked tooth while guesting for Birmingham at Coventry on Friday.

The Aussie has confirmed via social media that he is due to be examined today.

The initial prognosis was for three weeks on the sidelines, but Ford revealed he may have to consider other options should that timescale prove overly-ambitious.

Ford told the Daily Echo: “Josh is still hoping to be back in three weeks but that may be a little optimistic. Even getting a crash helmet over his nose would be difficult enough.

“This could drag on a little bit longer than we think and we’re just going to have to be patient.

“If it is a minimum of a month out, we will perhaps look at bringing in someone for 28 days, but at this point I’m going to give him every chance to show he’s going to be back quicker.

“If he is, all the better.”

Grajczonek’s injury is the latest in a catalogue of problems experienced by Pirates riders in 2014, with Kyle Newman, Shamek Pawlicki and Maciej Janowski having been in the wars – to varying degrees.

Captain Darcy Ward, who has been riding with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, suffered another setback after he was bitten on the leg by an insect while in Sweden last week.

The Queenslander had to have pus drained from the wound but it did not stop him racking up big scores in Saturday’s Czech Grand Prix and the Polish Ekstraliga the following day.

Ward is set to feature in tonight’s Elite League meeting at home to Wolverhampton (7.30pm), with Coventry’s Kyle Howarth poised to guest in place of housemate Grajczonek. Heat leader Janowski is available again following illness.

The meeting is the last of reserve Ben Hopwood’s month-long spell at Wimborne Road, giving him one final chance to earn a longer stint in the skull and crossbones.

Ford continued: “No decision has been made on Ben yet so I can’t say whether he will be staying or going.

“We’ve got a two-week break after Wednesday so that gives us a little bit of breathing space.”

Pirates: (from) Darcy Ward, Vaclav Milik, Shamek Pawlicki, Kyle Howarth (guest), Maciej Janowski, Kyle Newman, Ben Hopwood. Team manager: Neil Middleditch.

Wolves: (from) Tai Woffinden, Jacob Thorssell, Ricky Wells, Ty Proctor, Piotr Pawlicki, Joe Jacobs, Ashley Morris. Team manager: Peter Adams.