ROCKS REVIEW: Veteran tasked with helping team keep clean sheets

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Duncan Jupp is set to be given the task of helping the Rocks keep more clean sheets.

Although they missed out on the Ryman one south title by just one goal last season, their defensive record could have been better.

They let in 43 league goals, just over one per game.

Now the Nyewood Lane management are turning to Jupp to add his knowhow to the side’s defending, both in a playing and coaching role.

The former Fulham and Wimbledon defender has indicated his willingness to be considered as a first-team squad regular again after making only one start and four appearances from the bench, most of those in cup games, last season.

He has continued helping at training but now wants to increase his involvement.

Jupp has been in the thick of it as the Rocks have returned to pre-season training and joint boss Jamie Howell says the veteran looks in good nick.

“He’s been training and, along with our other old timers, Michael Birmingham and Luke Nightingale, he is looking in very good shape,” said Howell.

“We need that sort of experience.

“Juppy helped us out a lot last season without actually playing much and he’s keen to do what he can this season.

“Our defensive record wasn’t always as good as it might have been last season.

“That’s not a criticism of the keeper and defence – it was as a whole team we didn’t always defend well. We were often too cavalier.

“We need to keep more clean sheets and Juppy, who’s played at all levels of the game, can help us.”

Howell is pleased with the three workouts the squad have been put through so far and says they’ll be gradually stepping things up and doing more as the sessions go on.

Among those who have been training with the Rocks are keeper Tony di Bernardo, who has left Worthing but seems unlikely to switch permanently to Nyewood Lane and two ex-Rocks who have left Lewes – utility man Lewis Ide and central defender Chris Breach.

Howell said Ide – still finding his way back after a cruciate ligament injury – and Breach were possible additions to the squad but nothing was decided yet.

He conceded the need for another winger was top priority with Ben Johnson trying his luck with Dagenham & Redbridge and Phil Turner and Dan Royce unlikely to be back at Nyewood Lane for the new campaign. But Howell added: “If Ben goes to Dagenham, clearly we’ll have a need for someone. But if he comes back, he’d be a first-choice starter.

“We’re not panicking. Others will become available so we’re monitoring it.”

The start of training has brought good news about three midfielders who were injured at the end of last season.

A scan on Kane Wills’ knee has shown no significant damage and he is training while fitness staff work on strengthening the affected muscle, while Dan Beck has suffered no adverse reaction to his knee problem.

The biggest boost is news that James Fraser looks like he will not need surgery to repair shoulder damage which kept him out of the end of the 2010-11 promotion campaign.

Howell said: “There is damage but he’s done a lot of rehab over a long period and is strong as a result. An operation wouldn’t do much to help him.”

The Rocks’ first friendly – at home to Crawley – takes place on Tuesday week, July 19.