PIRATES chief Matt Ford is convinced he has built a team with the balance and ability to challenge for the Elite League championship.

Ford gave his verdict on the Wimborne Road class of 2013 after putting the finishing touches to his new-look line-up for the forthcoming campaign.

Poole suffered an agonising grand final defeat to Swindon last term as the silverware slipped was ripped from the Dorset club’s trophy cabinet.

Pirates finished the regulation campaign top of the table but after being struck down by key injuries, they failed to match the impressive Robins.

However, Ford believes Pirates will possess the quality to launch another title charge when the battle begins again in March.

Captain and world champion Chris Holder, Australian superstar Darcy Ward and rookie reserve Kyle Howarth are the survivors from 2012.

They have been joined by Polish trio Maciej Janowski, Robert Miskowiak and Dawid Stachyra, with Aussie Rohan Tungate completing the line-up.

Asked if he felt Pirates were capable of securing a top-four spot, club promoter Ford told the Daily Echo: “If I didn’t think that then I shouldn’t be doing the job.

“You can never say what is going to happen in speedway. I remember picking a team in 2009 and three riders got injured before we had a meeting.

“Injuries always play a huge part and they will play a huge part again next season. If we could keep that team for the entire season, I have no doubt we would be in the play-offs.”

Ford continued: “Our team this year has been built with an eye on the play-offs and not necessarily winning the league season.

“All you need to be is in the top four and then outscore the opposition over two legs. At this point in time, and there are always changes, that is the way we have looked at things.”

Ford, who said he planned to use Sam Masters and Kyle Newman as guests when doubling-up riders Tungate and Howarth were unavailable, added: “I have no doubts at all about the top four riders. I know what we can achieve with that.

“It is as competitive as last year’s top four. I think the balance is nice again.

“People in Poland certainly wouldn’t underestimate Dawid Stachyra, having had a very good campaign in 2012.

“Rohan Tungate is a mystery to us all at the moment because he has never done it at this level. He has a chance to shine.

“He has improved quickly as a rider and having more meetings is going to be beneficial to him now. This will be a pivotal part of his career.

“I think everybody wanted Kyle Howarth back. I was pleased he was the first contract we did. I made a commitment to Kyle that he would be in the team a long time ago.”