The Rocks are stepping up their search for strikers – but it looks like they could part company with Ollie Pearce ahead of their bid to bounce back from relegation.
After a season in which their struggle for goals was a major reason why they went down from National League South, Bognor are determined not to suffer again in the same way.
Manager Jack Pearce and first-team coach Robbie Blake will run the rule over a proven striker with bags of National League experience when the Rocks return for pre-season training at the start of July.
The attacker, whose identity the club are keeping under wraps, is one of an exciting crop of trialists bidding for a contract at Nyewood Lane ahead of the Bostik premier campaign. Also vying to earn a deal is a promising young forward who bagged more than 30 goals for his club last season. He is among a group of budding youngsters eager for Pearce to assess their capabilities at a higher level. But one of the club’s existing strikers, and a regular in the team for the past few years, Ollie Pearce, could be moving on.
He has yet to commit to another year at Nyewood Lane and manager Pearce said: “It’s looking doubtful we will keep Ollie. I don’t think he will sign for us again, that’s my gut feeling.
“If he were to move on, because he is under 24, there’d be a compensation clause. A club signing him would have to agree to our fee or it would go to a tribunal.”
It’s looking doubtful we will keep Ollie. I don’t think he will sign for us again, that’s my gut feeling.Jack Pearce
The manager is more hopeful that another striker, Jimmy Muitt, will stay with the Rocks for a third season.
He has also been talking to central-defensive stalwart Gary Charman this week about the prospect of him staying, while the future of goalkeeper Dan Lincoln remains uncertain.
It seems certain midfielder Richard Gilot, forward Ibra Sekajja and winger Ben Swallow will not be back for the new season.
But the Rocks have re-secured the services of defenders Calvin Davies, Chad Field and Corey Heath, utility man Harvey Whyte and midfielders Tommy Block, Doug Tuck, Dan Beck and Tommy Scutt, and have recruited left-sided attacker Harvey Sparks from Worthing.
They have lost full-back James Crane to Worthing while former club captain Sami El-Abd has now signed for the Rocks’ big-spending Bostik premier rivals Dorking Wanderers – along with former Nyewood Lane goal machine Jason Prior. Boss Pearce said: “There is a lot of work going on as we assemble our squad for the new season and as well as the the established, talented players we have already secured, we are fortunate to have some exciting options we must decide on. “Supporters should rest assured that as soon as we are in a position to name names, we will. Negotiations can be a delicate process and we don’t want to jump the gun. All I will say is that I am excited by who we have and who we are looking to get.” Meanwhile, Pearce has been elected as vice-chairman of the Vanarama National League following the recent resignation of Charlie Clapham. And long-serving Rocks club secretary Simon Cook has been elected to the board of the Bostik League.
Cook had served as a board member for seven years until the club left the league a year ago and says he is delighted to be able to again take a part in shaping the league’s policy and organisation.
The Rocks return to pre-season training on Monday, July 2, and their first friendly is scheduled against Brighton under-23s on Tuesday 17.
STEVE BONE & CARL ELDRIDGE