MATT Ford predicted Pirates supporters would see a stronger Richie Worrall in 2019 after securing the Merseysider’s return to Wimborne Road.

Poole chief Ford moved quickly after Worrall’s parent club, Belle Vue, decided after lengthy deliberation that they did not require his services.

As a Brit, Worrall benefits from a 2.5 per cent reduction on his 2018 average, leaving him on 5.46, nearly a point less than when he joined Pirates in the season just gone.

The 27-year-old signed in May as cover for Chris Holder but retained his team place for the year as the Dorset club won the SGB Premiership.

Reflecting on his decision to bring back the former motocross ace, Ford told the Daily Echo: “It took longer than expected with Richie because he appeared in many of Belle Vue’s team plans.

“They weren’t willing to release him until the middle of this month but Richie had always made it clear to Mark Lemon that he would like to ride for Poole.

“He was asked to ride for at least one other club but I’m pleased he chose us.

“Last season, Richie was putting a lot of work into his new business. But now it is running well and doesn’t need his time quite so much so, mentally, he will be able to commit himself more to speedway than he could last season.

“That said, he did a very steady job for the club.

“He was very good in the first month but then perhaps his off-track commitments took over a little.

“But when we got to the final, he was the second-highest scorer and I judge people on how they perform when it matters.”

Worrall’s average suggests he is a candidate to drop to reserve if Nico Covatti or Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen move into the main body of the team.

And Ford is more than happy with that state of affairs.

“We will benefit from the fact Richie is not coming in as a second heat leader as he did last time,” said Ford.

“He comes in as the fifth rider in the team but is supported by two reserves who are capable of scoring plenty as well.

“Should one of the lads at reserve score ample points, it could be Richie who drops to reserve and that will give us power-packed reserve berths for the entire season, provided we do not sustain injuries.”

Ford has 6.81 points with which to recruit his final rider.

Pirates 2019: Jack Holder (7.39), Brady Kurtz (7.05), Josh Grajczonek (6.70), Richie Worrall (5.46), Nico Covatti (4.70), Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen (4.39).