PIRATES are keen to use Chris Holder as cover for Darcy Ward after the Wimborne Road skipper broke his thumb in the New Zealand Grand Prix on Saturday.

Ward also sustained concussion and soft tissue damage in his left knee as he was wiped out by shock eventual champion Martin Smolinski in a heat 14 smash.

The timing of the incident at Western Springs could not have been much worse from a Pirates point of view as they are due to begin their defence of the Elite League against Eastbourne on Wednesday.

However, team manager Neil Middleditch is hopeful that Poole asset Holder can be drafted in having admitted he was “99 per cent certain” that Ward – who may need an operation – would not be fit.

Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “We’re trying to get the wheels in motion to get Chris to replace Darcy until he is back in the saddle.

“Using Chris would be a major bonus. It would keep stability and continuity in the team because everyone knows him and it would be like for like.”

Middleditch insisted no blame could be attached to Smolinski for his part in the incident that spelled the end of Ward’s meeting and briefly knocked him out.

He said: “It was just an unfortunate speedway accident and no one was to blame.

“I’m sure Martin feels as sorry about it as anybody. It’s just unfortunate that Darcy came off worse.

“We need to get him home see the extent of the injury and then take it from there.”