JASON PRIOR has headed for his Newcastle trial with his past and present managers and Rocks fans all willing him to make the breakthrough.
The striker is due to spend two weeks trying to impress Alan Pardew and his coaching team after the Magpies offered him a trial while he was on the verge of signing for Conference South side Eastleigh.
If Newcastle don’t want to take the 23-year-old, he will return to Bognor - but the likelihood is a club further down the league ladder will then take a gamble on him.
It’s been a whirlwind week for Prior, who has described it as ‘surreal’, and there are worries his trial has been over-hyped.
But Rocks bosses Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick and Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford, who watched him develop at the Wessex League club before he joined the Rocks in 2009, all believe he has a chance of making the grade.
Howell said: “He is a natural goalscorer and if ever there was a type of player suiting a particular club, it could be Jason at Newcastle. He is an old-style centre-forward and they have had plenty of those down the years.”
Killpartrick added: “He is a technically-gifted centre-forward and is definitely worth a gamble. He also has an excellent attitude, which will help him make an impression up there.”
Rutherford said everyone at Moneyfields knew Prior would go far when he left the Portsmouth club.
“He is a level-headed lad and always eager to learn. Sometimes he came across as a lethargic looking player but in reality that wasn’t the case,” said Rutherford.
“He came to us as a 19-year-old midfielder after spells at Portsmouth and Newbury but because of his physical presence he was always going to play up front. The lad looks a real athlete.
“He knows where the goal is and has been top scorer at Bognor for two seasons. He has the opportunity of a lifetime and he must approach it with an open mind.”
Rocks fans have been sending ‘good luck’ messages to Prior on Twitter.
Rob Garforth wrote: “Good luck in your trial. It will make us proud to see you on Match of the Day.” Adam Goldring tweeted: “All the best. Thank you for your services and goals for the Rocks.”
For the latest developments on Prior’s future, go to www.bognor.co.uk and follow sports editor Steve Bone on Twitter – @stevebone1