Pompey may help Rocks overcome injury worries

Harvey Whyte scores against Pompey - now he is one of several on the injured list / Picture by Tim Hale
Harvey Whyte scores against Pompey - now he is one of several on the injured list / Picture by Tim Hale

Pompey could help ease the Rocks’ mounting injury worries by loaning them one or two of their promising young players.

Bognor bosses are talking to their counterparts at Fratton Park about taking on a couple of Pompey academy players, who could aid a short-term player shortage and the strength of the squad longer-term.

There may even be a new face or two in the Rocks camp before Saturday’s FA Cup second qualifying round visit to Billericay.

After a good start to the season, the Rocks are worried a series of niggling injuries could derail their progress.

Defenders Sami El-Abd and Chad Field, midfielder Doug Tuck, utility man Harvery Whyte and now striker Thomas Byrne have all picked up injuries ranging between minor and major.

It leaves boss Jamie Howell short of options and he is hopeful reinforcements from Pompey will get the dressing room back up to a decent strength.

Over the past two seasons, the Rocks have taken Field, Snorre Nilsen and Calvin Davies on long-term loans from Pompey and all have played significant roles.

Field is now at Nyewood Lane following his release by Pompey while Nilsen has moved on. Davies remains a Pompey academy player.

Howell said: “We went to watch Pompey’s under-23 game against Barnsley in the Premier League Cup and are talking to Mikey Harris, Mark Kelly and Paul Cook at Pompey about whether we might be able to do something.

“The injuries we have picked up have left us short. When all of them are fit and back we will be okay but with a few needing managing week to week, it doesn’t leave us with anyone to spare.

We had a better-than-expected start to the season but lost at Harlow on Saturday, and the next couple of weeks are big for the club.

Jamie Howell

“We had a better-than-expected start to the season but lost at Harlow on Saturday, and the next couple of weeks are big for the club.

“We go to Billericay in the Cup on Saturday and - provided that does not need a replay - we visit Kingstonian in the league on Monday night and it would be good to have one or two more players available. The games are coming quickly now.

“Pompey have been excellent in recent years and we’re grateful for their support.”

El-Abd and Field have been suffering with tight hamstrings. El-Abd may be fit for Saturday but Field, who is back inb training, needs longer.

Tuck’s groin problem is clearing while Whyte has had another knee scan but is espected to be missing for a month or two.

Byrne - who will stay with the Rocks until Christmas - sustained a hip flexor problem at Harlow which is likely to rule him out for a fortnight.

Another boost comes with news that wideman Dylan Barnett is to stay at Nyewood Lane for at least another month.

Howell said the 3-1 league defeat at Harlow - their first loss on the road this season - was disappointing and they’d need to perform much better at Billericay to avoid a cup exit.

“The game was a reflection of where we are. As well as we had done before that game, we’re a young and inexperienced team. We didn’t deal with Harrow, who were aggressive and strong.

“Billericay will be tough, even though we won there in the league a couple of weeks ago. I don’t think the league game will have much bearing on the Cup game.

“We know what to expect to a degree but they’ll perhaps be more ready for us.”

The Rocks had their best FA Cup run for many years last season, losing in the fourth qualifying round at Wealdstone, where victory would have put them in the first round proper for the first time in 20 years.

Howell said: “Before last season, we’d been quite disappointing in our FA Cup endeavours. But we showed we could go on a run last year and must aim to do the same again. It lifts the club and the town if you can.”

STEVE BONE

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