MATT Ford backed Pirates to launch a strong title defence after completing his team building with the signing of highly-rated Polish star Przemyslaw Pawlicki.

Pawlicki, who impressed during a brief stint at Wimborne Road last season, has been recruited on loan from Coventry with a starting average of 7.15.

The 22-year-old scored 42+1 in five meetings for Pirates during 2013 and registered eight victories in just 21 heats for the Dorset club.

Those eye-catching statistics, together with Pawlicki’s potential, led Ford to secure the hot prospect as the final piece of Poole’s 2014 jigsaw, giving the youthful team an average age of 22.

Pirates promoter Ford told the Daily Echo: “The fans, sponsors and I were all impressed with the way he came in and rode for the club. He did a good job and I also think a fully-fit Shamek (Pawlicki) will be a totally different proposition to the one we had last year.

“He had an operation in October to put his leg right and now I look forward to getting the real Shamek riding for the club in 2014.

“Him and his brother (former Pirates star Piotr Pawlicki) are both tipped for the top in the sport. They are still both very young. Shamek has a long way to go. He can certainly make it to the top of the sport and, with dedication, I believe that he will.”

Ford is confident that his top three of Darcy Ward, Maciej Janowski and Pawlicki will prove more than a match for any other leading triumvirate in the league.

He added: “I am happy to have those three to take us forward at the start of the year. I think all three have improvement in them. I am as happy with my top three as any others in the league.

“Everyone knows that there are always going to be one or two teams that come up from lower positions by making adjustments, just like we did last year.

“You can honestly never say who is going to be the champions because it is down to an awful lot of luck. I think we can look forward to a good campaign.

“Shamek’s inclusion has given us more stability. He is not only good on the big tracks, he is also good on the small tracks.”

Meanwhile, Pirates boss Neil Middleditch says captain Ward will be fit to race in the club’s Elite League opener against Eastbourne on April 9.

Ward sustained a knee injury while riding in a flat-track meeting in Australia on Saturday but Middleditch insisted the Poole skipper would be fine in time for the upcoming season.

Writing on his Twitter account, Ward said he had “bruised knee bones”, a “little fracture” but “no ligament damage”. He added: “Puts me off a bit for the start of 2014 but think (I) should be sweet.”