Rocks Review: New striker set to give squad a boost

Chris Breach and Terry Dodd celebrate a goal at Walton - and now the Rocks could have a new attacking outlet  Picture by Chris Hatton

Chris Breach and Terry Dodd celebrate a goal at Walton - and now the Rocks could have a new attacking outlet Picture by Chris Hatton

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The Rocks are set to sign a Met Police striker to give them a much-needed extra option in attack – and he could be the first of several players added to the squad.

They are on the brink of recruiting former Burgess Hill star Steve Harper, who is likely to go straight into the team to face his former Sussex club at Nyewood Lane on Saturday.

The 29-year-old was the Hillians’ top scorer last season before moving to Met Police in the summer. But he has not been starting regularly for the Met, who have agreed he can join the Rocks on loan.

His signing would be the first step in strengthening a Nyewood Lane squad hit by two departures and two retirements since August.

The deal was not quite finalised last night but joint manager Jamie Howell was hopeful it would be tied up.

“We are signing him on loan and we will see how it goes,” said Howell. “He can play up front or in an attacking role wide on the right.”

Harper, whose previous clubs include Thurrock and Welling, would give the Rocks a third striker again after Luke Nightingale’s recent retirement.

They’re still in the hunt for reinforcements in midfield and defence, with full-back Matt Whitehead the latest to leave the Rocks last weekend. It is believed the former Worthing defender had a difference of opinion with the management and he is not yet thought to have fixed up a new club. His departure follows James Fraser’s switch to Whitehawk and Michael Birmingham’s retirement in the early weeks of the season.

Howell said: “We’ll be delighted to get Steve in and I must pay credit to Met Police, who have been very helpful in doing the deal.

“He’s a player who needs games and is a very useful addition.”

The Rocks also have irons in the fire in their search for an extra midfielder and a defender – and their squad this weekend will show exactly why more bodies are needed.

They will be without centre-half Tim Bond – who has strained a hamstring – and midfielder Dan Beck, who is away for a rearranged family wedding.

That will probably mean Chris Breach dropping back to partner Stuart Axten at the heart of defence, which in turn will leave the Rocks short in midfield.

But Kane Wills could make a timely return against Burgess Hill after a goalscoring return to the team in the county cup at Rye last night. Lewis Ide could also be in line for a rare league start.

Howell said: “I still say our first XI is strong; it’s when you get beyond that we haven’t got a lot of cover.

“We are constantly working to strengthen the squad, but we will bring in only players we feel are right for us.”

Fellow joint boss Darin Killpartrick added: “We’re extremely short – we know that.

“We’re looking to bring in another couple of players.”