THE ROCKS are ready for the season to start.
That’s the verdict of manager Jamie Howell despite friendly defeats he says fans should not worry about too much.
Howell is happy with how his strongest line-up is lloking although worries remain over the club’s strength in depth.
With Doug Tuck, Dan Beck and Harvey Whyte all a little way off 100 per fitness, there could be a bit of sweating to be done between now and the first Ryman premier match on Saturday week.
But they have been boosted by news that young keeper Grant Smith – impressive in a Nyewood Lane spell a couple of seasons ago – may join them on a short-term deal.
Bognor lost 2-0 at Moneyfields last Wednesday, 2-1 at Worthing on Monday after taking the lead with a Jason Prior penalty, then 2-0 at Havant to two goals just beofre the break last night. But Howell said no-one should read too much into any pre-season results.
If we can keep our key players fit all season, we will do well.
“They were both difficult and quite physical games and at times we didn’t as a team deal with the physical side too well. But at Worthing, in the first half we were brilliant – if we’d been three up at half-time no-one could have batted an eyelid. But then we had to make some changes and Worthing came back at us.”
Speaking ahead of the final friendly at Havant last night, Howell added: “Overall there have been plenty of positives from pre-season.
“We could do with having better luck with injuries this season than we have in recent years. If we can keep our key players fit all season, we will do well.”
Tuck and Beck have picked up hamstring problems while Whyte is still feeling his way back to 100 per cent fitness after injuries that cut short his 2014-15 campaign.
Sami El Abd came off at Worthing as a precaution after a knee twinge.
The Rocks are hoping striker Ollie Pearce will sign a contract, adding to their attacking options.
And on the subject of keeper Smith, the manager said: “He has been playing for us and we are hoping to sort something out, possibly short-term. He had a deal lined up at Crystal Palace which fell through and has been at Welling more recently. We rate him.”
They kick off their league season at home to Merstham on Saturday, August 8 – the first of seven league games to come beofre the month is over.
Howell said a good start would be key to the campaign – with memories of poor opening in each of the last two still fresh in the memory.
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