THE ROCKS will have to cope with a worsening injury crisis if Saturday’s visit to Hampton and Richmond survives the wet weather.
They could travel to London without their first-choice goalkeeper, with only one fit central defender and chronically short of midfielders.
Jamie Howell’s men made it seven wins in a row with a 2-1 success at home to Thamesmead last Saturday but face a battle to keep that run going with such a depleted squad.
The irony of the injury list growing at a time when they have been able to play very few matches is not lost on the management, who are hoping to have most of their walking wounded back in action by the end of February.
They are on the prowl for loan deals that could help tide them over until key players return.
On Saturday, the Rocks look like being without:
* Keeper Will Britt, who has hurt his back in training and is being assessed by parent club Southampton
* Midfielder Scott Chamberlain, who is out for three to four weeks with a hamstring injury
* Striker Terry Dodd, who is at a wedding
* Midfielder/winger Harvey Whyte, a couple of weeks away from fitness after rolling his ankle
* Winger Ben Johnson, expected to be out for three weeks as he gets over a knee problem.
* Midfield man Dan Kempson, who needs a knee scan.
In addition to these absentees, centre-halves Stuart Axten and Craig Robson are struggling with ankle and groin injuries while wideman Arron Hopkinson has a slight hamstring strain.
Two pieces of brighter news are that striker Ben Godfrey is fit again after an arm injury suffered at work and defender Daryl Wollers has come through two games relatively well after a long spell out awaiting a groin operation.
Howell said: “It’s frustrating. We’re on such a great run of form but now we have to contend with this. Just when you get on a roll, something else happens.
“We need some cover in goal, defence and midfield and we’re looking to see if we can get anyone in on loan before the weekend.
“Some of those with injuries might be okay for Hampton on Saturday but others are two or three weeks away. If we can get them all back fit when we hope, then we will be looking strong again fairly soon.”
Howell was pleased with the win over Thamesmead, which completed the double over the Londoners and moved the Rocks back into the play-off zone - they sit fifth ahead of this weekend’s games.
James Crane and Terry Dodd scored the goals in the first half after the visitors had taken an early lead.
“I think their keeper was man of the match - he made some unbelievable saves - but when it’s only 2-1, you can’t be that comfortable. We had a coule of chances where nine times out of ten they’d go in but this time they didn’t.
“The pitch was difficult and didn’t allow us to play our normal game but we showed resilience and belief after going behind. I think the players know there is always the potential for goals from this team and that’s helped them believe in themselves.”
The Sussex Senior Cup quarter-final at home to Brighton’s development team has been rearranged for next Wednesday, February 19 - while the league game at Grays pencilled in for that date has now had to be put back to Thursday, April 10.
Get first news from Hampton v Rocks on this website