DANNY Ford described as a “massive blow” the injuries sustained to Pirates stars Richie Worrall and Nico Covatti – but insisted the pair remained in high spirits.

The duo have been receiving treatment at Poole Hospital since their horror crash in the Dorset club’s 37-35 12-heat victory over Belle Vue at Wimborne Road on Thursday.

Covatti and Worrall tangled on the final lap of heat eight of the contest, having both looked to chase down leader Dimitri Berge.

Merseysider Worrall had been waiting for the swelling to go down on his ankle before surgery, after suffering a break in four places.

Argentinian Covatti has sustained broken ribs but had not suffered a collapsed lung as initially feared.

Both co-promoter Ford and team boss Neil Middleditch had been to visit the stricken pair, who will both not be involved when Pirates visit Belle Vue in the SGB Premiership tomorrow (7.30pm).

Ford told the Daily Echo: “Richie has to wait on surgery because the swelling has to go down.

“Nico looked like he had punctured a lung but the latest scans are showing it was not the case and he should be on the mend quite quickly. They are both in high spirits.

“It’s such a shame for both of them. I know Richie had a tough start to the season but he was coming into some decent form.

“The form Nico was coming into was absolutely fantastic. It’s a massive blow for us and it’s never nice when your riders are injured.”

Poole will operate rider replacement for Worrall, with Luke Becker coming in as a guest in place of Covatti.

Having been ruled out with sickness on Thursday, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen remains out. Jye Etheridge, part of Belle Vue’s septet 12 months ago, will guest in his place.

Meanwhile, the Aces have parted ways with Ricky Wells and drafted in Finn Tero Aarnio.

Boss Mark Lemon told the club website: “We wish to place on record our thanks to Ricky Wells for all of his contributions to the Belle Vue Aces this year, and we wish him all the very best for the rest of the season with Edinburgh.

“As a club, we pride ourselves on our loyalty to our teams and it was a tough decision to make. But it was done in the best interests of all parties, and we are looking forward to having Tero in our side.”