BOGNOR boss Jack Pearce has been left with a selection headache ahead of the Rocks’ relegation six-pointer with Sussex rivals Whitehawk – with nearly half his squad needing treatment.
The extensive injury list at Nyewood Lane now includes Chad Field and Keaton Wood, who will both miss tomorrow’s trip to the Brighton-based bottom side (3pm).
After losing 3-0 to local rivals Havant & Waterlooville on New Year’s Day, Bognor remain second bottom in National South, with the gap to safety widened to six points.
But with Whitehawk, who are back under the leadership of Steve King, picking up their first win of the season against Eastbourne Borough last time out, the depleted Rocks are unlikely to match the 6-2 victory in the reverse fixture in August.
Speaking to the Post, Pearce said: “They are a very different team to the team we played back in August. The one thing when you’re down there in the table is to get their first win, which they now have. And who’s next? It’s us.
“You can drive yourself crackers thinking about all the kicks against us. We know we are capable but the injuries is a double headache.”
As well as missing Field and Wood, the Rocks will be without James Crane, Corey Heath and Ollie Pearce. Left side player Kristian Campbell is also a doubt while the newly re-signed Gary Charman is out for the next four weeks.
Throw in the suspension of Ben Swallow, who was harshly dismissed against Havant and Bognor are struggling to field 11 players.
The forward was sent off mid-way through the first half when he was deemed to have stamped on former Crawley striker Matt Tubbs.
Pearce said: “I don’t think anybody can question the players’ efforts when we went to 10. Given the strength of the wind I would have taken being one down at half time if we had a full 11. The sending off was a major turning point. That’s the luck you get sometimes in football. That’s not to say that it won’t change this weekend.”
He added: “We strengthened the club no end by signing Keaton Wood and Chad has improved massively in recent months.
“With the games we have coming up, to lose two of the top quality players we have at this level, that’s what really frustrates a manager.”
Despite having seven players of his small squad unavailable Pearce said the club would not be appealing the sending off.
He said: “One of biggest diseases in football is people feigning injury and people running around referees to get players sent off.
“A ref is a human being and, despite what they say, they will get influenced by people around them.
“When you get these situations, mistakes will be made and ref did make a mistake.”