All Rocks want for Christmas is three points (and no more injuries)

Terry Dodd scores against Margate - but who will get the Rocks' 50th league goal?  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Terry Dodd scores against Margate - but who will get the Rocks' 50th league goal? Picture by Tommy McMillan

JAMIE HOWELL hopes to give Rocks fans a few points for Christmas – and then take stock of the strength of his squad.

The team have four games in a fortnight coming up, starting with the Boxing Day derby at home to Lewes, which could leave them handily-placed for an assault on the play-off places.

But Howell feels they have over-achieved so far – they head into Christmas in seventh place – and wants to add ‘experience and maturity’ to the dressing room for the rest of the season.

One key factor will be Ben Johnson’s knee injury. The results of his scan are awaited but Howell said at best, the winger would be out for six weeks to two months. At worst, if there’s serious damage to his cruciate ligament, he’s looking at being out until next season.

Howell was not unhappy with Saturday’s postponement of the Rocks’ trip to face Grays, saying it should leave the players that little bit fresher for the festive games, which also include a trip to Carshalton on Saturday and a home game a week later against Lowestoft.

The visit to Met Police, which should have been on New Year’s Day, has been put back to Tuesday, January 7.

Howell said: “We’re looking forward to the games, starting with Lewes on Boxing Day. It’s always nice for the fans to have a Sussex derby at Christmas and we know Lewes will be tough.

“They’re having a better season and, like us, are a force to be reckoned with when they can get their best team out.”

The Rocks, whose next league goal will be their 50th, may be without winger Arron Hopkinson as he recovers from a calf strain. And, apart from the fact Johnson is out, they will probably have to wait a week or two more before seeing Harvey Whyte return.

Howell believes the squad will need additions, especially with the futures of loanees Shep Murombedzi, Paul Hinshelwood and Louis John unclear beyond present arrangements which end in January. Hinshelwood seems the most likely to become a permanent squad member.

With no outfield players aged over 25 in the squad, Howell feels they need more experience and maturity to balance things out – and more players capable of being leaders on the pitch.

“The reason we’re sixth and not higher is inexperience,” he said. “We’re making bad decisions in games which are costing us and at times from one or two players, there’s not the 100 per cent commitment to the club that we’d hope for. We should be striving to be top of the league.

“We’ll certainly have another look at what we need in the near future, but we’re always looking at possibilities.”

Bognor begin their festive schedule six points off a play-off spot and 12 behind leaders Wealdstone. Lewes are only a point behind the Rocks with a game in hand.


For the first reports from the festive games, see