Two more young guns help Rocks shape up for season

Darin Killpartrick has added another two exciting teenagers to his growing squad as the Rocks step up their pre-season preparations.

He has secured the signings of attacker/midfielder Charlie Oatway and ex-Pagham midfield man Matt Wood.

And he is close to tying up the services of young defender Jack Smith after the full-back's impressive spell in the side last term.

But Seb Wallis-Tayler, made captain by Killpartrick after returning to Nyewood Lane last season, has gone to play professionally in France.

The additions come as a squad now averaging around 18 players per

session are through a testing pre-season programme.

The first friendly, at county league division-one side Selsey, is just five days away. Killpartrick is pleased with progress, both in terms of training and recruitment.

"It's developing well. We are stepping up training now and have been doing a wide variety of things to keep the boys switched on.

"There's been spinning on bikes and we've been out running up hills and through woods.

"The fitness coaches, Neil Cockroft and Rob Lawrie, are doing a fantastic job, and we're doing a lot of ball work too. That will always be central to what we do."

Killpartrick believes he is about three or four players short of the squad he and assistant Jamie Howell need to start the campaign four weeks on Saturday.

Oatway, 17, the son of the Brighton coach of the same name, and Wood, 18, have both signed in the past week.

Killpartrick said: "They're both great prospects.

"Charlie can play up front or in midfield and is great in possession.

"Matt's another one with a fantastic future.

"Negotiations are going well with Jack, who's another fantastic footballer."

Talks are also ongoing with striker Nathan Lynch and, although they also have young forward Mickey Demetriou on board, Killpartrick is keen to sign another young striker.

A young goalie to deputise for Anthony Ender is also being sought.

Older duo Michael Birmingham and Stuart Tuck are showing up well in training.

Killpartrick said he, the staff and players felt ready for the beginning of their programme of friendlies next Tuesday at Selsey, who

themselves began with a good display in a 2-0 defeat to Havant & Waterlooville at the weekend.

The Rocks host Crawley on July 25.

Killpartrick said: "We're looking forward to the games. They will go some way to showing us how far we've come."

* See a report from Selsey v Bognor on this site next Wednesday morning.