ROCKS REVIEW: We’re the Rocks, not the Crocks

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The Rocks are hopeful of a treble injury boost as they look to get their title bid back on track.

Striker Luke Nightingale, skipper Michael Birmingham and defender Perry Ryan may all be fit for selection for Saturday’s 1pm clash with Chipstead.

A win is needed after the Rocks fell to only their fourth league loss of the campaign at Leatherhead last Saturday.

The 3-2 defeat was made gloomier when Nightingale was unable to play the second half and Birmingham – who replaced him – was forced off after a kick which seemed to have worsened his recent back injury.

But the pair are making speedy recoveries – along with Ryan and with midfielder Dan Beck, who picked up a knee problem at Leatherhead.

If all are available, it will prevent bosses Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick having to make major changes and play people out of position.

Howell said: “We had an update on everyone at training on Tuesday and it was all pretty positive.

“Dan Beck has a medial ligament strain so he rested, but we hope he will be okay for Saturday.

“Birmy trained and has had no further problems with his back, which is a big bonus because I thought his season could be over when I saw what happened to him on Saturday.

“He’s a player who will always want to play if he possibly can, and being able to bring him back in will be important for us.

“Luke’s injury has been diagnosed as a slight tear at the back of the thigh muscle. The good thing about that is it’s not his knee, which we feared when it occurred. He’s having intensive treatment all week and could be available.

“With Perry Ryan, he has a hairline fracture of his wrist and we’re talking to Pompey, his parent club, about whether he can play wearing a soft cast.”

Out of the reckoning for now are another midfield man, James Fraser, who faces another three to four weeks out with shoulder damage, and Charlie Marshall, who needs a double hernia op.

But having a near-full-strength squad from which to select on Saturday would be a massive boost for the Rocks as they enter the final eight games with the destiny of the title – and promotion – in their hands.

Slack defending was blamed for the reverse at Leatherhead and fans are hoping the team bounce back from defeat as positively as they have done every other time they have lost a league game this term.

Most recently, they followed their 4-0 hammering at Faversham with a run of seven wins and three draws.

Howell said: “We all want to put things right after last weekend. We have to continue doing the things that have got us where we are – we’re doing a lot of things well.

“We’ve bounced back well after losing games before and have to aim to do so again.”

Howell had a double scouting mission last night (Wednesday) – watching the Met Police beat Chipstead 3-1 to return to top spot a point ahead of the Rocks but having played a game more. They’re the Rocks’ next two opponents.

One more win will secure Howell and Killpartrick’s men a top-five finish, which would mean at least a play-off spot.

Killpartrick said the players’ minds were right for the run-in, despite seeing a 2-1 lead at Leatherhead, through goals by Jason Prior and Tim Bond, overturned.

“I felt we deserved a point,” he said. “We scored two magnificent goals, but gifted them three. And in the second half we huffed and puffed.

“The players were low afterwards – extremely down – but living with all kinds of results is part of football.

“Psychologically, we’re ready. Everyone’s been wanting to beat us because we’ve been top. We have to be ready for that, keep on approaching our game in the same way and concentrate on our own game.”