Bognor could be without as many as SEVEN first-team regulars as they begin a big weekend of National League South action.
Having already lost defender Corey Heath and striker Jimmy Muitt to ankle injuries sustained in the Whitehawk game, the Rocks’ medical staff will need to check on another five walking wounded ahead of Saturday’s visit to East Thurrock.
Full-backs Calvin Davies and Harvey Whyte have ankle problems, in the midfield Doug Tuck is siffering from a sore calf while Joe Lea has hamstring and back injuries. Striker Ollie Pearce has a groin problem.
If all of those are out for the East Thurrock and Monday’s big home derby with Jamie Howell’s Eastbourne Borough, the Rocks have a problem – and they are looking to get one or two new faces in the door before the weekend playing deadline of 5pm on Friday.
But they will check everyone’s fitness at training tonight and are hoping at least some of those who are doubtful will be fit.
Manager Jack Pearce said the weekend would bring two more tough tests for the unbeaten Rocks, who needed a Dan Beck equaliser to rescue a point at home to ten-man Weston-super-Mare on Saturday.
Pearce said: “East Thurrock have done ever so well to get to this level of football and stay there considering the area they are in with lots of clubs around them. That won’t be an easy trip on Saturday.
“Then on Monday, Eastbourne will come to us having shown signs of picking up after a slowish start to the season.”
Borough’s visit means an early return to the Lane for Jamie Howell, who left Bognor for Priory Lane after eight years at Nyewood Lane as joint manager and manager.
He is expected to get a warm reception from home fans and Pearce said: “He was a very good servant to Bognor and I think everyone appreciates that.”
Pearce was disappointed the point earned against Weston last weekend was not three.
The visitors took an early lead then had centre-half Aden Baldwin sent off for a last-man foul on Alex Parsons.
Pearce said: “Apart from the goal we scored, we had eight one-v-one chances.
“In the first half we had Ollie Pearce going straight through, Sami El-Abd with a header when he headed it down and it went up and over.
“In the second half we had Chad Field heading a cross when he could have volleyed it, Sami with another header, Ollie clean through and no-one following up when the keeper saved it, Ben Swallow cutting inside and hitting the keeper, Pat Suraci coming in and shooting, and one other.
“We created eight chances other than our goal and normally if you get eight, you’d expect to convert more than one. Plus there were numerous occasions when the final pass wasn’t right.
“If you’re going to win games, you have to get more of those right. But we did okay. It’s hard to judge whether our defending was better because they went down to ten men. But we’ll work on that.
“We’ve just got to be very aware of how to make things happen and against Weston we were found a little bit wanting at times and we didn’t get the win.
“I expect the crowd will have been disappointed but it’s a reality check. We are where we are and it’s going to be a long hard season but when you lose four players, it’s not going to be easy.
“I thought the players who came in (Field, Tommy Block, James Crane and Beck) did okay. I thought we missed Tucky’s calmness in the middle of the park and some of his passing at vital times, but it’s a good point and we didn’t get beaten.
“But in terms of chances created we should have got another goal. Five games unbeaten is another plus.”
Coach Darin Killpartrick said the pleasing thing from the Weston game was the number of chances being created: “We broke them down, we just didn’t convert the chances.
“But we’re learning all the time – and learning fast – about the levels you need to show in all areas of the pitch in this division.”
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