Rocks Review: Johnson signs - Harper and Robinson could follow suit

Ben Johnson scores against Walton Casuals last season  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Ben Johnson scores against Walton Casuals last season Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks have re-signed Ben Johnson - and hope Ashley Robinson and Steve Harper will also stay with them for the new season.

There have been doubts about the future of the trio, but joint boss Jamie Howell said it wasn’t beyond the realms of possibility that they will all line up when the Rocks begin their assault on the Ryman premier in six weeks’ time.

Forward pair Robinson and Harper were both highlighted at the end of last season’s promotion-winning campaign as players who may not return - largely because of the distance between Bognor and where they lived in Kent.

Winger Johnson emerged more recently as a player who could be looking for pastures new.

The club said today (Thursday) Johnson had signed, with just a few details to be ironed out.

The boost comes as the Rocks squad settle back into pre-season training, with three sessions held in the past week.

Howell said: “Ashley is another who I think wants to come back. He’s had a couple of options but in the past he has moved to another club for pre-season and then not settled, and he does feel quite settled at Bognor.

“We like Ashley, the fans like him and he likes the club so hopefully that will work.

“Perhaps if there was serious money on offer elsewhere he would go but he also wants to be wanted.

“As for Steve, there have been a couple of clubs making inquiries about him but unless he gets an unbelievably good offer, I think he’ll be back with us.

“He’ll probably do some pre-season work nearer to his home, in Tonbridge, but I hope we’ll see him for matches.”

The Rocks are biding their time before making actual new signings - not wanting to blow the budget before top targets become available.

Meanwhile, between 12 and 15 players have been attending training, which began last Friday and will comprise three sessions a week until the friendlies begin with a trip to Selsey on Monday week.

Howell said: “The sessions have gone well so far but haven’t involved anything too strenuous.

“As we get further into pre-season there will be a lot of emphasis on fitness levels. We were a very fit squad last season and will need to be again this year, with Neil Cockroft looking after that side of things.

“If you can get the levels to where you want them before the season starts, it’s a big help.”

The Rocks are aiming to bring some of the club’s youngsters into the squad as the season gets moving.

Striker Dan Simmonds and midfielder Dan Kempson have already joined in sessions and Howell said: “They’re the sort of players we are keen to bring through.”

Centre-half Tim Bond is awaiting the results of a muscular scan which he hopes will get to the root of a groin problem that has kept him out of action since the turn of the year.

Howell said: “We’re keeping our fingers crossed Tim will be back before long. If not, central defence is an area where we’re a bit light, with only Stuart Axten and Ben Andrews as options.”