Are Rocks suffering more injuries because of their style of football?

Bognor boss Jack Pearce has speculated that the club's bad run of injuries may have something to do with their style of football.

Thursday, 11th October 2018, 9:00 am
New Bognor recruit Joe Dandy - on loan from Pompey's academy

But the Nyewood Lane supremo says he has no plans to change their pass-and-move style.

The Rocks have been left without centre halves Keaton Wood and Corey Heath and striker Dan Smith - all for at least a month - leaving them with something of a crisis and only 13 fit first-team players.

That's now been upped to 14 with the recruitment of a third Pompey youngster drafted in to solve the defensive crisis ahead of a pivotal week in their bid for Bostik premier glory.

Centre-half Joe Dandy, 17, joins Fratton Park club-mates Smith and Brad Lethbridge on loan at Nyewood Lane as the Rocks try to plug the gap caused by defenders Keaton Wood and Corey Heath being ruled out for more than a month.

He is set to go straight into the heart of defence alongside Chad Field when Bognor go to leaders Tonbridge on Saturdayt and host tenth-placed Folkestone on Tuesday.

The Rocks have praised Pompey for helping them over another player shortage.

Dandy brings to 14 the number of fit first-teamers boss Jack Pearce and coach Robbie Blake have to pick from, and Pearce said recruiting other reinforcements was proving difficult.

The manager said: “We’ve been ever so unlucky with injuries to both Keaton Wood and Corey Heath which has left us short. We have signed Joe from Portsmouth, on the same basis as Brad Lethbridge and Dan Smith, and he will be with us for training on Thursday so we can work with him.

“We will look to partner him with Chad on Saturday at Tonbridge Angels and then, of course, we have a home game against Folkestone on Tuesday.

“Joe is a first-year scholar but we’re told he has shown great promise even though is one of the younger members of Pompey’s current crop of under-18s.

“As ever we are grateful to Pompey and we’re delighted our association with them continues to flourish. Obviously, Robbie Blake has a good relationship with the management team at Fratton Park as well.”

Dandy is a disciplined, technically-astute centre-half who can also operate as a right-back. He has been an ever-present for Pompey’s U23s and their Academy side, for whom Bradley Lethbridge scored twice on Saturday given that the Rocks were without a fixture.

Wood is out for four to six weeks with an ankle injury picked up in the 2-2 draw at Potters Bar on Seprtember 29 – on a pitch Pearce described as ‘diabolical’ and ‘awful’. Heath is sidelined for a similar amount of time with a different injury to the same ankle that was damaged early last season, forcing the young defender to miss the rest of the 2017-18 campaign. Smith is also out for four to six weeks with a hip injury. His recovery will be closely monitored by Pompey’s physios.

Pearce said: “It’s not a good situation. The three out are not just good players, they are three of our more physical players and that’s an area we are lacking in anyway. It’s one of our weaknesses. I can’t say I’m not used to this sort of luck with injuries. It happens in football all the time.”

Pearce said Bognor’s style of play could be contributing to the number of players getting injured, but he had no plans to change the approach.

“We encourage players to take lots of touches, not just whack it. That encourages contact and maybe leads to more injuries.”

Pearce expects stiff tests against Tonbridge and Folkestone. “Tonbridge are top so you know you are going to get a difficult game there, and Folkestone are a team who are often challenging well at this level and could again this season,” he said.

“But the atmosphere, camaraderie and training ethos in our squad is as good as it’s ever been. We’ve had a couple of big wins and are proving we can take chances.

“We want to improve the squad further but it’s not easy when you have a strong first XI and people coming in want to know where and when they’ll play.”

There are no other injury concerns in the Rocks camp and Pearce is hopeful striker Lethbridge will be available for most if not all upcoming games.