ROCKS REVIEW: The club they all want to play for

Jamie Howell expects up to 25 players to be involved when the Rocks return for pre-season training tonight (Jul 1).

The existing squad will be boosted by about ten triallists for the first session of the seven-week build-up to the new campaign.

It comes with news that 35 potential players have already expressed an interest in attending a trials day for the new Rocks youth team.

The first-team squad’s first workout will go ahead without three of last season’s squad – Phil Turner, Dan Royce and Dean Maynard.

Turner and Maynard want to try for regular football elsewhere after struggling to break into the Rocks first team last season.

And Royce is going on a tiling course and doesn’t yet know if he will return to the Lane for the 2011-12 season.

Having added only one signing – striker Terry Dodd from Worthing – to last season’s line-up, the Rocks will be hoping at least one or two of the new faces who join training will have what it takes to become first-team squad members.

With Ben Johnson trying his luck with League Two outfit Dagenham & Redbridge, the loss of Turner, Maynard and Royce could leave them a little short of first-team contenders – especially wingers.

But veteran defender Duncan Jupp has been stepping up his fitness and is interested in resuming a playing role, while young Selsey centre-half Toby Pointing is also set to be involved again.

Howell said: “We’re delighted to get a quality forward like Terry into the squad and equally pleased that Jason Prior is set to stay with us.

“For Terry it was a difficult decision to leave Worthing, but he thought long and hard about it and decided to join us. He likes the way we play and thinks he can fit in well here, as we do. And I must say Worthing have been very good about it – they’ve accepted losing him very graciously.”

Howell remains unworried by the lack of any other recruits and is looking forward with fellow joint manager Darin Killpartrick to casting his eye over new trialists.

Last summer, the likes of Royce and Maynard made the transistion from being traillists to key squad members – and Howell hopes others will make that step up again this time.

“It’s encouraging we have nine or ten who want to come along. In addition to that we’ve got Juppy wanting to be involved. He’s a quality player and would have played more for us had he been happier with his fitness.

“There are other youngsters we’ll look at getting on dual registration, as we did last year, so they can be available to us but still get regular games at other clubs.”

Howell said training would begin with fairly light sessions which would show how fit different people were and would gradually build in intensity.

The Rocks’ first friendly is on Tuesday, July 19, at home to Crawley.

The expected high numbers at first-team training looks like being mirrored when the coaches for the new Rocks youth team, who will play in the Ryman Youth League, hold trials on the evening of Wednesday, July 27.

Following last week’s Observer exclusive on the new set-up, manager Mike Wood said: “I’ve had 35 potential players so far say they’d like to come along, which is very encouraging.”

He needs everyone who intends to come to the trial to register with him first by calling him on 023 9235 2723 or 07805 251454.