ROCKS boss Jamie Howell has started planning for next season by revealing: We know exactly what we need.
The manager believes they need to add only one or two new faces to the squad to make a real go of next season’s Ryman premier campaign.
A prolific goalscorer and a centre-half are the club’s top priorities as they prepare to welcome back key players who have been out long-term.
But Howell warned fans they’d need to be patient as the management worked to close in on their top targets – with no signings expected before pre-season.
The Rocks brought down the curtain on 2012-13 with a trip to Brighton’s Amex Stadium for the Sussex Senior Cup final. They were beaten 4-0 by Brighton’s young development squad but a 1,500-strong travelling green army made it a day to remember for the club.
Now the players get a break and the management’s attention turns to preparing for next season, when they will aim to improve on their 14th-placed finish in the Ryman premier.
There’ll be a strong reliance on the club’s existing players – including many of the youngsters who the bosses believe will have learned a lot from the Brighton experience.
Howell is hopeful all this season’s squad will stay and is looking forward to having the injured trio of winger Ben Johnson, defender Stuart Axten and wideman Harvey Whyte available again.
He said: “We’re not looking to move anyone on. Most have indicated they want to stay, which is pleasing.
“As well as the squad who ended the season, we have Ben to come back after missing virtually all of last season and Stuart, who will be fit for the start of pre-season. And we will have Harvey fully fit by then as well.
“We will also have a fully-fit Terry Dodd available.
“He showed at Brighton what a threat he can be now he is that much fitter. And we now have a crop of youngsters who have a bit more experience behind them and will only get better.”
Howell predicted only one or two new players would need to be signed but said they would need to add quality and experience to the squad.
As ever, a search for a striker will be a major part of the club’s summer efforts.
Howell said: If you’re going to be successful, you need to score 800 to 100 goals as a team.
“But when I look at the present squad, I don’t see where that number of goals will come from.”
In the season just finished, the Rocks scored only 48 league goals. Only two sides in the division scored fewer. Howell said: “That clearly needs to improve.”
Central defence is another area where the Rocks are short – even with Axten returning.
They have relied in recent weeks on Josh Warren – but he has been only on loan from Pompey – and Daryl Wollers.
Wollers needs surgery to try to clear up a long-standing groin problem and may miss the start of 2013-14.
Howell said it could be a bit of a wait for the right signings as the Rocks wanted, if possible, to attract players from higher leagues, where club’s squads and needs wouldn’t fall into place until they returned from the summer break.
He added: “I’m more content with the squad now than I was at this stage last season. The people we have coming back from injury will give us a big boost.
“But we know next season is a big one for us.
“Fans have been very patient with us but we’re aware they want to see a Bognor team who play good football, entertain and score goals. In the final couple of months of the season, did we provide value for money? Probably not.
“Fans might put up with that for a spell, but not forever.”