PROMOTER Matt Ford has revealed captain Darcy Ward's injury problems could rule out the Poole Pirates talisman for longer than originally anticipated.
The 21-year-old suffered a broken thumb, concussion and soft tissue damage to his left knee after colliding with Martin Smolinski during the Speedway Grand Prix series opener in Auckland three weeks ago.
Poole's Aussie ace was replaced by fellow Turbo Twin Chris Holder for an initial 28-day period and made his comeback on Easter Monday for Polish side Torun but retired from the final heat.
Ward recovered sufficiently to take second spot in yesterday's European Grand Prix but on the back of his exertions in Bydgoszcz, Ford admitted that his number one could yet face an extended spell on the sidelines.
Pirates chief Ford told the Daily Echo: "When you consider the injuries he was carrying, Darcy's performance was outstanding but we have to wait and see whether he has suffered any further problems.
"At the moment, it sounds like his knee injury is a particularly nasty one but we don't know any more than that yet. We are waiting on confirmation from him and hope to know more in the coming days."
Ward's potential setback further compounds the news that home-grown reserve Kyle Newman will miss tomorrow's trip to Belle Vue (7.30pm).
The Pirates rookie, who today withdrew from Plymouth's Premier League clash at Scunthorpe, will be replaced by Somerset rider Charles Wright and faces a late fitness test ahead of Wednesday's home meeting with Birmingham.
Meanwhile, team boss Neil Middleditch warned that the reserve races could prove pivotal as Poole try to protect their unbeaten start to the season at Kirkmanshulme Lane.
"Reserves are set play a huge part this season and if you get both lads on song then you can score a lot of points," said Middleditch.
"Kyle has only just started to come back from injury and I didn't want him anything less than 100 per cent because that would not be fair on the other boys.
"Belle Vue have dangerous riders throughout the team and if we can come back with something then I will be happy."
Ford anticipates that fellow reserve Lee Smart will be available.
Belle Vue Aces: 1 Matej Zagar, 2 Michael Palm Toft, 3 Scott Nicholls, 4 Richie Worrall, 5 Craig Cook, 6 Stefan Nielsen, 7 Ben Reade.
Poole Pirates: 1 Chris Holder, 2 Josh Grajczonek, 3 Shamek Pawlicki, 4 Vaclav Milik, 5 Maciej Janowski, 6 Charles Wright (guest), 7 Lee Smart.