Rocks fans urged: Don't go Wild over new striker just yet
Jamie Howell feels his 2016-17 Rocks squad is coming together well - but has urged fans not to expect too much too soon from teenage striker Jimmy Wild.
With Jason Prior and Alfie Rutherford having moved to Havant, all eyes are on who will score the goals to fire Bognor to success this season.
They have signed ex-Brighton goal ace Jimmy Muitt but he is still working his way back to fitness after a long-term injury and at present Ollie Pearce is being paired up front with Wild, who is set to get his Rocks chance after impressing at Chichester City.
The duo worked well together in Bognor’s opening friendly, which saw them win 3-0 at Chichester on Monday night, and they are likely to play again in Saturday’s visit to Gosport and possibly next Wednesday’s big Nyewood Lane clash with Pompey. Wild set up Pearce for the first goal on Monday.
Howell said: “Jimmy is a player we like and are keen to work with. But he is still very young and no-one can expect him just to walk into the Ryman premier division and be the finished article.
“Jimmy and Ollie linked up well on Monday but it’s one game and you can’t judge much yet. He will play other friendlies but we mustn’t expect too much of him.”
With Muitt not yet fit, Howell said he did not yet know if he would need to bring in one other striker. But as pre-season unfolds, another forward could be among the couple of other additions he hopes to make.
The Chichester visit saw starts for many of the players Howell expects to be in his line-up for the league opener at home to Lowestoft on August 13.
James Crane, Gary Charman, Sami El-Abd, Daryl Wollers, Dan Beck, James Fraser, Doug Tuck, Harvey Whyte, Wild and Pearce all started and Darren Budd, who came on as a sub and scored, is also expected to be a key man in midfield.
In goal for the Rocks – who have seen Grant Smith move to Boreham Wood – was Billy Granger, a 21-year-old stopper who has spent time on the books at Chelsea, Spurs, Fulham, Wigan, AFC Wimbledon and a number of non-league clubs.
Howell said: “Billy did well and should feature again on Saturday. He’s one of a few goalkeeping options we’re considering.
“I was pleased with the work-out at Chichester. There were more positives than negatives, but there’s a lot to work on.”
Another surprise inclusion in the squad at Oaklands Park was Chad Field, who spent last season on loan from the Pompey academy but has since been released from Fratton Park.
The tall centre-half has had trials with pro clubs but a return to Nyewood Lane is a possibility if no deal comes off for him.
Another defender Howell is looking at is Ed Sanders, who was at Pompey with Field and Snorre Nilsen. A couple of young Sussex-based players, Matt Penfold and Will Robinson, are also on the radar.
The Rocks have welcomed a number of trialists themselves – including the diminutive Spaniard Samuel Sanchez Compan, who scored the Rocks’ second goal with his first touch.
Howell said he was looking forward to Pompey’s visit next Wednesday, when a big crowd would bing in vital revenue for the season.
“It’s brilliant they’re coming to Bognor for the fourth year in a row. I hope we can give them a good game, as we did last year.”
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