DEJECTED Poole Pirates star Darcy Ward admitted his speedway season could be over after revealing he had ruptured ligaments in his left knee.
As well as potentially missing the rest of Pirates' Elite League campaign, the 21-year-old's world title hopes are in limbo as he embarks on an intense course of physiotherapy to manage the anterior cruciate ligament injury.
Ward, who also suffered a broken thumb and concussion after colliding with Martin Smolinski in Auckland five weeks ago, has enlisted the help of Cherries physio Steve Hard in an attempt to delay surgery and keep on track his bid for Grand Prix glory.
The Queenslander confirmed he would not take part in club racing over the next few weeks, focusing solely on the next two rounds of the GP series in Finland in eight days time and Prague at the end of the month, with any Pirates return dependent on progress over the next three weeks.
Ward told the Daily Echo: “At the moment I'm looking to go to the next Grand Prix to find out a bit more about what I can do on a bike.
“To be honest, I'm not expecting it to be very good but would like to give it two weeks after the next Grand Prix to see where I am. After that, if I'm not 100 per cent or if I'm not at least comfortable riding the bike the way I want to then I'll have decisions to make.
“There's a possibility my season is over. I have still been riding but it was not comfortable and I don't feel confident riding the way I have to ride to nurture my leg.
“I am trying to go for the world championship and I have to think about that but if I race with three other riders and feel unstable then sacrifices have to be made.
“I don't really know what will happen, I am just trying to do what I can to get my knee strong enough to finish the season. I'm really not good right now but I am building towards getting it better and I'm just hoping it works.
“The Grand Prix will give me something to look forward to and aim for. If I make good progress then I feel I can be back full-time in three weeks but at the moment I don't know where I'm going to be.”
Ward, much fancied for a tilt at the world championship, admitted the news had hit him hard.
“It seems to be year after year I get an injury,” he added. “I thought this year I knew about those injuries and was trying to avoid them but here we are yet again.
“Supposedly, this was my year but it has been turned upside down. Nothing compares with racing against the world's best and trying to compete but it has happened now and there is nothing I can do other than try and help it along by doing my exercises.”