MATT Ford admits the fast track grading system could make the difference between Pirates retaining the Elite League title and ending 2014 without a trophy.

Poole are still without a long-term signing in one of their two reserve spots as Ben Hopwood only penned a four-week deal prior to his full debut against Lakeside on May 14.

The Stoke rider could earn an extended stint in the skull and crossbones if he impresses over the course of his temporary spell.

However, promoter Ford is also keen on recruiting Kent's Benji Compton, who he attempted to sign before bringing in Hopwood, only for injury to scupper the switch.

Ultimately, Ford's options are constrained by the fast track rankings put together by Great Britain under-21s boss Phil Morris.

Only Hopwood - currently ranked 25th of 38 - and unsigned riders below him that are eligible for full-time team slots will be available when new rankings come into effect on June 1.

Ford told the Daily Echo: “It's just so restrictive who you can have, that's the problem.

“The difference between us and a team like (league leaders) King's Lynn can be a number seven and we need to give ourselves the best opportunity in filling that berth.

“There isn't any decision made yet. We said we'd give it a month and have a look at it then.

“I had made a commitment to Benji Compton beforehand, but whether that's something that could come back, I don't know at this time.

“We've just got to see where the riders end up on the list.”

Pirates return to action against King's Lynn at Wimborne Road this evening, six days after snatching a point against Rob Lyon's men at the Norfolk Arena.

Poole team manager Neil Middleditch is without the services of heat leader Maciej Janowski, who was taken ill prior to Monday's postponed meeting at Leicester, so Lakeside's Lewis Bridger guests in the Pole's absence.

The Stars are set to welcome Grand Prix star Kenneth Bjerre back from injury and the Dane will take his place in a powerful top three alongside Niels-Kristian Iversen and Rory Schlein.

Prior to tonight's meeting, there will be a minute's applause in memory of former Pirates rider Malcolm Simmons, who died on Sunday, aged 68.

Pirates: (from) Darcy Ward, Josh Grajczonek, Shamek Pawlicki, Vaclav Milik, Lewis Bridger (guest), Kyle Newman, Ben Hopwood.  

Stars: (from) Niels-Kristian Iversen, Nicklas Porsing, Rory Schlein, Robert Lambert, Kenneth Bjerre, Lewis Kerr, Ben Morley (guest).