PIRATES stalwart Bjarne Pedersen hit back at online critics who claimed Pirates wanted him out of their Elite League play-off semi-final decider, insisting they are “people who don’t know what speedway is about”.

Pedersen crashed out of Magnus Zetterstrom’s farewell meeting at Swedish track Eskilstuna on Sunday following a furious on-track battle with fellow Danish star Mikkel Michelsen.

The Ryde-born racer fell awkwardly, twisted his knee and limped heavily on his way back to the pits. Despite riding in the re-run, he turned down a place in the individual final, where there was a £5,000 engine on offer for the winner.

He immediately withdrew from last night’s scheduled Elite League semi-final second leg at Wolverhampton, which was rained off.

With doctors confirming he had suffered ligament damage, Pedersen will not take his place in the rearranged fixture tomorrow. His participation in next week’s grand final meetings, should Pirates qualify, is also in serious doubt.

Pedersen managed just a point in the first leg at Wimborne Road – which the hosts won 51-39 – but rejected claims his absence was an attempt by Poole to draft in a stronger rider as a guest.

He said: “It’s only the people who don’t know what speedway is about who say this. If I’m not there, I’m not earning. It’s just unlucky. I had that bad meeting last week and then this happened on Sunday.”

Pedersen insists he is back up to speed following his personal struggles last week.

He said: “I spoke to both of my tuners and changes have already been made.

“I was really disappointed by Wednesday’s performance. I had to make sure that was not going to happen again.

“I felt very good before that crash on Sunday. I scored 10 points in the meeting. I feel quick.”

Pedersen says there is still a chance he could ride in next week's final but the Pirates legend admits his ligaments need time to recover.

He said: “I don’t need an operation but there’s some damage to the ligaments. There’s not much I can do. I just have to give it time to really heal.

“I’ve spoken to Matt Ford and I told him that I don’t know if it will be four days, 10 days, two weeks, or what it will be.

“They have just told me that in a week’s time, I should feel better than now. It differs from person to person how long it takes the swelling to go down but the damage will heal.

“I am 100 per cent out for Wednesday. I don’t think I will be back for next week either. I don’t want to say that for 100 per cent now. It may be that in three or four days, I feel much better. It doesn’t look like I’ll be back, though.

“I’m gutted about that. It’s getting so close. But of course I will still be there to support the team next week, even if I can’t be on the track.”