Rocks Review: Legend Luke hangs up his boots

Luke Nightingale has retired  Picture by Chris Hatton
Luke Nightingale has retired Picture by Chris Hatton

Rocks stalwart Luke Nightingale has hung up his boots.

Persistent knee problems have forced the Nyewood Lane favourite and former Pompey striker to retire.

He made 197 starts plus 29 appearance as a sub and scored 109 goals, including six this season.

It’s another blow to the squad, who have already bid farewell to midfield pair Michael Birmingham and James Fraser this season.

Nightingale told bosses Jamie Howell and Darin Killpartrick of his decision on Saturday, four days after his latest knee injury forced him to limp out of the 5-0 league cup win at Walton Casuals.

He had considered retiring in the summer but decided to play on, but has been frustrated at not feeling 100 per cent fit for much of the current campaign.

Rocks joint boss Jamie Howell confirmed the news and said: “We’d like to thank Luke for all he has done over many years for the club. He has been a tremendous servant.

“His decision is final - he’s not going to go back on it. He will be another player who will be difficult to replace.”

It’s turning into a season of transistion for the Rocks as they get used to life without Birmingham, whose own decision to retire came just three weeks before Fraser quit the club for Whitehawk.

The cause has not been helped by a subsequent injury to Kane Wills, who has missed the last few games with ankle ligament damage but is on the road to recovery.

The Rocks are in the hunt for new recruits - and a striker to take Nightingale’s place in the squad is now likely to be high on the list of priorities.

One attempt to increase the squad has been knocked back.

The Rocks had hoped to sign midfielder Lloyd Cotton from Burgess Hill. Howell said the player was keen but felt work commitments would get in the way, so had decided against the move.