MATT Ford believes the early Pirates career of new signing James Shanes could take a similar path to that of former Grand Prix star Lee Richardson.

Top-flight rookie Shanes has become the third piece of the Poole jigsaw for 2017 having joined on a 2.00 average, taking his place alongside Hans Andersen and Jack Holder.

Wimborne Road chief Ford admitted the Dorchester-born 19-year-old would face a tough task to score strongly in the SGB Premiership but said the Kent asset could draw inspiration from popular ex-Poole charger Richardson.

Ford told the Daily Echo: "I would liken him to Lee Richardson, who joined us in 1996. Being British and reasonably local, the Poole fans and supporters got right behind him even when it was hard to score points.

"Lee finished the season with an average of 0.79 but people helped him and got him through what were testing times, and I believe James could be the same.

"While I think it will be tough for him, there will be more of this calibre of rider at the very end of a few teams and I believe we have one of the very best representing us in James.

"Clearly this is a signing which is giving us more points to play with at the top end of the team. It is a big step up but he has been in finals before – he represented Somerset in the Premier League final against Sheffield this year and scored in both meetings.

"I truly believe the biggest cheers are reserved for riders of this ilk who come through the ranks, just as Kyle Newman has done. It's great to have another local lad representing the Pirates."

Shanes has ridden for Kent for the past two seasons and has also spent time at Devon and Coventry II during his embryonic career.

The teenager, who lives a stone's throw from Poole asset Newman in Puddletown, is a rising star in grasstrack and retained his British Masters title in August.

Ford added: "James had a very good season with Kent last season and is very proficient in grasstrack and longtrack.

"That said, I do believe he will have a very long and distinguished career in speedway. These are early steps for him in becoming a professional rider."

Ford now has 30.83 points with which to recruit four riders for his new-look septet.

Pirates 2017: Hans Andersen 10.01, Jack Holder 7.16, James Shanes 2.00.