PROMOTER Danny Ford insisted Pirates were doing “everything we can” to still track Czech Republic star Ondrej Smetana – with his Poole career in the balance before even turning a wheel.

Pirates’ newest recruit was announced on July 2 in place of Aussie Zane Keleher but missed Tuesday night’s 45-45 draw with Plymouth due to travel issues.

And travel restrictions heading from Britain back to the Czech Republic are causing the problem for both Smetana and the Poole management.

Explaining the situation, Ford told the Daily Echo: “We are doing everything we can to get Ondrej into the country.

“The Czech government brought in new restrictions from July 12 – after we completed the signing of him and declared him in our team.

“It has made things quite difficult for us because we’ve made a claim to him and now the goalposts have changed, making it very difficult for him to travel back and forth from the Czech Republic.

“We are doing everything we can, hopefully we can get something resolved over the next week.

“It’s the next step for him, really. He’s frustrated, the same as us, so hopefully we will be able to come to some sort of arrangement pretty soon.”

Pirates were able to run rider replacement for Smetana against the Gladiators at Plymouth Coliseum, but Ford confirmed that would not be an option when the sides do battle in the Championship Knockout Cup on Wednesday, July 21.

“We are put under pressure - we are only permitted a seven-day facility (to run rider replacement). We’ve got to get something sorted in time for our next meeting,” he added.

Asked when the club had to start looking at other options, Ford replied: “Pretty soon. It’s on our minds all the time at the minute, we are trying to get something sorted. We can’t wait around forever.

“Ultimately we need to move on and if he becomes an unviable option then we do need to look elsewhere.

“But for the moment, we are doing everything we can to get Ondrej to be able to travel to the UK.”

The last Czech signed by Pirates was Vaclav Milik, who played a key role in the club’s 2014 Elite league title success.

And team boss Neil Middleditch is hopeful Smetana can arrive and make an impact in the skull and crossbones.

He told the Daily Echo: “We do need to get him over here.

“I think perhaps Plymouth could have been a bit of a baptism of fire for him coming from the Czech Republic, knowing the size of the tracks out there – maybe it was not such a bad thing.

“We haven’t got that many meetings until we get to the latter part of the month really. Hopefully we can get those travel issues sorted and get him over here.

“Smetana was a target for Newcastle and with COVID didn’t get a ride. I think he’s been riding in a French league or something, scoring some good points so it will be interesting to see him.

“We have a good history at Poole with the Czech boys and I am looking forward to working with him. I think it will be action a plenty, that’s for sure.”