Rocks Review: Hunt for help follows new injury blows

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The Rocks are on a desperate search for reinforcements after another three key players were lost to injury in one game.

Centre-half Stuart Axten is out for up to eight weeks with a knee ligament injury, Terry Dodd is sidleined for a month after a metatarsal fracture and Steve Harper won’t play for about a fortnight because of a hamstring strain.

The trio were all injured in Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Ilford in the FA Trophy, the club’s last cup game before a hectic run of five league games in 18 days.

Their absence from the starting line-up comes on top of long-term injuries which have put winger Ben Johnson and striker Ashley Robinson out of the picture. And these two were hurt after captain Dan Beck had made himself unavailable for the forseeable future and while another central defender, Tim Bond, continues a long road back from groin problems.

Thankfully new skipper Ben Andrews has recovered quickly from a thigh injury to help offset Axten’s loss from defence and Robinson is only two to three weeks away from being able to return up front.

But unless one or two new recruits arrive before Saturday, the Rocks will host fellow high-flyers Wealdstone in an important Ryman premier match with only one fit strikers and no spare centre-halves.

They have re-recruited young Havant wideman Harvey Whyte on loan, while another loanee and a permanent buy are possible before the weekend.

Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick are dreading each game and training session for fear of more injury woes but have called on the youngsters being thrown into the side to keep taking their chances as they have done so far.

Doug Tuck, Dan Kempson and Lewis Stockford are among the young squad members who have not let anyone down when being drafted into the side.

The sqaud was left further stretched last Friday when young striker Omar Folkes stunned the Rocks by signing for Conference North side Histon.

Howell said: “We are getting injury after injury but there’s nothing we can but take it on the chin and get on with it. To lose another three in one game, after the injuries we have already picked up this season, was hard to take.

“We’ve got Harvey Whyte back on a month’s loan, which is excellent news, and we may get in another two - one loan, one permanent - this week.

“But as we’ve said before, we’re not a club who can afford to go out and replace every player who gets injured.”

Killpartrick said: “It seems every time we corner, we find a no-entry sign. The next few weeks are going to be more than testing - they’re going to be a psychological battle. It’s about how the players who are fit react.

“But you couldn’t make up the run of injuries we have had - it makes the job nigh-on impossible.”

Howell is confident the Rocks still have enough quality to carry on picking up points in a busy October which brings five league games followed by an FA Trophy second qualifying round tie at home to Southern League division one south-west side Bridgwater.

He revealed teenage striker Dan Simmonds could be in contention for a role against Wealdstone, who are just one place below the Rocks in eighth. Simmonds could partner Mu Maan, the club’s only remaining fit striker.

Howell said: “The situation we’re in presents a big chance for a number of the youngsters, and so far, those who we’ve called up have done well.

“It’s a hectic period ahead so we’re going to need them. But I feel we’ve got enough core players to lead from the front.”

The Rocks visit struggling Carshalton on Tuesday and go to mid-table Canvey Island the following Saturday.