Rocks Review: I don’t mind if we don’t sign anyone

Harvey Whyte - pictured scoring against Hythe - may yet return on loan  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Harvey Whyte - pictured scoring against Hythe - may yet return on loan Picture by Tommy McMillan

The Rocks’ faith in youth means they don’t need to panic if they don’t sign a single new player before the league season starts.

They have tempted almost all of last season’s squad back to Nyewood Lane for the Ryman premier campaign ahead and are now easing a clutch of youngsters into the first-team picture.

Teenagers like Dan Simmonds, Dan Kempson, Curtis Poole, Connor Cody and Doug Tuck – nephew of ex-Rock Stuart Tuck – have been training with the first team and are likely to get their chance this season.

Joint boss Jamie Howell said the club already had a nucleus of 12 senior players which the group of talented youth players would add to for a good-sized squad.

The club have not ruled out adding one or two more experienced players if the right ones become available –but say they are relaxed about at least being able to start the season without any more additions.

The league campaign begins five weeks on Saturday, with the fixtures due out next Wednesday.

Winger Ben Johnson is the latest key man to commit to the club for the new season – as first revealed at last Thursday and Howell said that was a major plus in itself.

“He’s an integral player for us and has been excellent for the past two seasons – a big part of our success,” Howell said.

“Had he moved on, he’d have been very hard to replace. He’s popular in the dressing room and knows how we like to play. We’re delighted he’s staying.”

Striker Ashley Robinson’s future is still up in the air, although he has not yet had any other firm offers and the Rocks remain hopeful he will stay a Rock. The same is true of fellow forward Steve Harper.

Howell revealed the Rocks were looking to use utility player James Crane in a three-man midfield more often than as a full-back this year, paving the way for Jon Marzetti and Darryl Wollers to cement their places on the right and left of the backline.

The management remain concerned at when long-term groin injury victim Tim Bond will be back, meaning centre-half is one area they may well look to strengthen.

But Howell said he was delighted to see the crop of youngsters, most of them aged around 16, joining in with first-team training.

“There are some good young lads coming through. They’re not finished growing yet but are all technically very good footballers. They won’t play every week but we will look to bring them in when we can – when it suits them and the squad.

“I’m happy with numbers at the moment. If we didn’t sign anyone between now and the start of the season, it would be okay – we have enough.

“But that’s not to say I wouldn’t like to sign a couple of extras as the season gets going. You have to be ready for one or two moving on or getting injured if it happens.”

The Rocks are also keeping an open mind about young winger Harvey Whyte, who was a hit on an extended loan spell at the Lane last season.

Whyte has just signed for Havant & Waterlooville but the thinking is they may allow him to go out on loan again to get regular football.

The Rocks’ friendlies begin next week – with AFC Wimbledon’s visit the first Nyewood Lane fixture on Saturday week.

Training continues to go well, but last Wednesday’s session was called off because of waterlogged ground.

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