NEIL Middleditch believes Krzysztof Kasprzak can be "absolutely brilliant" or "absolutely dreadful" on a speedway bike and admits the Pole's mentality will be critical to success this season.

Pirates promoter Matt Ford swooped for the former Grand Prix star as a replacement at number one for club stalwart Chris Holder, after he deemed the latter's average too high for the new septet.

A five-time World Cup-winner, Kasprzak finished fifth in last season's Elite League averages while racing in Coventry colours and saw his rating beefed up to 11.07 following changes to team-building rules.

Kasprzak, who won both of his races in Friday's abandoned Darcy Ward Invitational at Wimborne Road, has been tipped by Ford to top the SGB Premiership averages this year.

And while team boss Middleditch has seen the 32-year-old produce jaw-dropping rides during three previous spells in Dorset, the team boss warned the Leszno-born flier could be unpredictable.

Speaking ahead of tonight's Premiership Shield first leg at Wolverhampton, Middleditch told the Daily Echo: "We don't know what we're going to get. Kasprzak can be an enigma. He can be an absolutely brilliant rider or absolutely dreadful so, hopefully, we are going to get the good one.

"I know he's pleased to be back at Poole because he said to me every time I saw him that he wanted to come back. Now he's got his wish. Hopefully, riding for the club he wants to ride for will bring the best out of him.

"I don't like to heap pressure on riders but I demand results. The management, promoters and fans want results from our number one rider.

"I don't think there is going to be pressure on him to start with as long as he hits the ground running. He's got good equipment, is a good racer and when he's good, he's very good.

"Hopefully, his head will be in the right place and he will be up for the job."

Middleditch feels the inconsistency shown by Kasprzak at times during his career could be down to the pressure heaped on Polish riders by those from their own nation.

And the team manager says his task is to ward off the mental doubts which can prove a problem for some racers.

Middleditch added: "In Poland they have such pressure. The Polish mentality is that speedway a very serious game for them. They want to do well and that's why they demand the best from themselves.

"Sometimes they can be their own worst enemies. We had that with Przemek Pawlicki, who would get a bit desperate and start crashing his bike.

"They do put a lot of pressure on themselves but my job as team manager is to calm them down and, hopefully, allow them to focus on scoring points.

"We know Kasprzak can ride the Wimborne Road track well and now he has got his chance, so he just has to return the favour.

"Chris's shoes will be very hard to fill but Krzys's heart is in Poole and he has always loved his time here."