ROCKS REVIEW: Johnson set to be given big chance at Dagenham

The Rocks’ delight at their first glimpse of their new star signing in a green and white shirt has been offset by news they are likely to lose Ben Johnson.

Striker Terry Dodd made an impressive scoring debut in the opening friendly against Crawley on Tuesday night – when winger Johnson made what could be his final appearance for the club.

Johnson, one of the stars of the Rocks’ title bid last season, is set to be offered terms by League Two side Dagenham & Redbridge following a trial.

And although right-winger Louie Castles is back at Nyewood Lane and looking to force his way into the team, the Rocks are keen to find a replacement for left-sided specialist Johnson before the season begins in 30 days.

Elsewhere in the squad they are fairly relaxed about their options, with the likes of defender Chris Breach and midfield/utility man Lewis Ide battling for a chance.

Joint manager Jamie Howell said: “We’ve not been sure for a while what would happen with Ben but it now seems likely he will go to Dagenham. That will leave us a little short in terms of width.”

His management partner Darin Killpartrick added: “Losing Ben would be a massive blow, although of course we wish him well.

“We can look at it as a positive story, too, because Ben has shown what coming to Bognor can do for a young player’s career.”

Worries over width are in contrast to the bosses’ and fans’ delight at seeing Dodd make his debut against Crawley. He scored a sharp goal to get the Rocks back in it at 2-1 and was involved in the best of the Rocks’ forward moves before being subbed in the second half.

With injury fears lingering over Luke Nightingale, the partnership between Dodd and last season’s top scorer Jason Prior will be vital.

Howell said: “Doddsy looked lively and scoring a goal in his first game will have given him a boost too. I think he’ll be an asset.”

Another stand-out performer against Crawley was Dan Beck, who covered a lot of ground and looks completely over the knee problem that affected him at the end of last season. Fitness worries also look to be behind another midfielder, Kane Wills. But a third, James Fraser, was pulled out of the game because of continuing worries over shoulder damage.

Howell said: “JJ (Fraser) has worked hard to get fit and ready to play but we have to be careful because there is a small risk he could do the shoulder further damage. He is going to be very important for us so we don’t want to rush him back.”

It’s too early to say whether young paid Alex Baldachino and Daryl Wollers – from Havant and Littlehampton respectively – will work their way into the squad, but keeper Tony di Bernardo is unlikely to join the Rocks with no likelihood of regular games.

The Rocks make the trip to Pagham on Monday (7.45pm) for their next friendly.