PAUL Starke admits he has "big shoes to fill" after replacing fans' favourite Kyle Newman in the Pirates line-up.

Newman was controversially axed earlier this week after turning in a series of mixed displays following his return from injury last month.

And Poole promoter Matt Ford turned to Starke – a member of the Elite League-winning side of 2015 – to replace the hometown hero and club asset.

Hereford-born Starke rode alongside Newman at Wimborne Road two years ago and he admitted replacing the Puddletown charger would be a difficult situation.

Starke told the Daily Echo: "Kyle had a bad injury at the start of the year and I think it set him back a bit. Maybe he just wasn't race fit and didn't have enough meetings under his belt.

"It's a hard situation because I get on really well with Kyle. I rode with him at Poole and we have some of the same sponsors.

"But that's the way it is in speedway and there is no bad feeling between us. He knows how it works. One day he might replace me, you never know.

"It's hard to fill the shoes of a local lad. The fans love him and rightly so, he's been good for the club over the years he has been with them. They are big shoes to fill."

Starke experienced numerous mechanical issues early in the season and was last month released by Somerset having ridden just nine meetings for the Oaktree Arena club.

However, the 26-year-old has been in superb form for Peterborough in the second tier, averaging 9.73 points per meeting in his 11 completed starts to date.

That figure is more than double what Starke managed in his brief stint with the Rebels and now the former Leicester man is hoping to make the most of his second crack at the SGB Premiership this term.

Starke said: "I had a pretty rough time at Somerset. I had a lot of mechanical problems, which was my own fault for trying things I shouldn't have.

"I tried new ignition systems and had nothing but problems – they caused me to have a lot of breakdowns.

"I went back to the kit which I knew worked and now it's all down to me. I'm looking forward to being back in the top division and, hopefully, making an impact as well.

"Sometimes you have to try new things to gain an advantage but it just didn't work out this time. On the plus side, I've learned from that.

"It's gone really well at Peterborough and there's no reason why I cannot recreate that form in the top flight."