Rocks are relaxed over summer recruitment plans

Will Bognor have any new faces in the team by the time Pompey visit on July 19?  Picture by Tommy McMillan
Will Bognor have any new faces in the team by the time Pompey visit on July 19? Picture by Tommy McMillan
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ROCKS fans have been told: Don’t expect new signings yet – and don’t panic.

Manager Jamie Howell is already thinking about replacements for Kane Wills, Stuart Axten and Grant Smith, but expects a long wait until pre-season before new faces arrive at Nyewood Lane.

And he stressed that even with departures of skipper Wills and defender Axten, and the fact keeper Smith is highly unlikely to return after being released by Brighton, he still feels the club have the nucleus of a good squad.

The Rocks have the likes of Ben Johnson and Harvey Whyte hopefully able to start next season fully fit after long spells out in 2013-14 and youth-team trio Ryan Morey, Johan Van Driel and Dale Hayes set to be handed chances to show they can push for first-team places.

And that means Howell is reasonably relaxed about the work ahead of him in the transfer market as the summer unfolds.

He expects most clubs to be doing most of their business after they return for pre-season, when players find out how they fit into present clubs’ plans.

Bognor’s players are likely to meet up on the last Friday in June for their first fitness session, with the first friendly pencilled in against David Wright’s Stoke City academy on Tuesday, July 15.

Howell said: “It’s early stages and there’s not much happening on the player front, and I wouldn’t think there will be for a while yet.

“I know fans want to know who’s signing and what-have-you but I hope they can be patient. We’re speaking to players but nothing is likely to materialise for a while.

“We have to remember we have the basis of a good squad. We have one or two to replace and we need a new goalkeeper but beyond that, we are not looking bad at all.

“We’ve got players to come back from injury and then there’s the lads from the youth set-up who could come through.

“We’ve seen how people like Doug Tuck and Ollie Pearce have come out of the youth team and become regulars in the first team and that has to be the aim for the next set of young players.”

Howell is pleased with how the friendly programme is shaping up, saying the Stoke academy and Pompey games will be good tough tests early in the scheme of things. Skrill South side Whitehawk will also visit the Lane for a pre-season game.

A couple more fixtures have yet to be confirmed.