ROCESTER will be without four key players for their biggest FA Vase tie in 25 years — but boss Dave Langston has moved to fill the gaps.
Skipper Craig Holland is beginning his long recovery from a broken leg, while centre-half Darren Bullock and midfielder Jack Langston are suspended for Saturday’s third round clash.
In a further blow, defender Chris McComisky is away on a stag do.
It is Rocester’s best run in the Vase since 1986/87, when the legendary Alan Beaman led them to the fifth round before a 3-1 defeat to Garforth Town.
“Darren and Jack are both gutted about it,” said boss Langston. “They’ve been unbelievably unlucky to miss out, with their suspensions carrying over three times with the two abandoned games and one postponed.
“Jack was there on Saturday and he was just devastated when it was called off.
“We just can’t believe it.” However, ex-Romans midfielder Darren Alexander, 29 — one of Holland’s closest friends — has signed on at Hillsfield in time for the tie.
And former Pelsall Villa man Carl Morris — another midfielder — is due to train with the club tomorrow night.
They follow ex-Stapenhill midfielder Dean Bromley into Hillsfield.
“Darren’s a good player and has always looked after himself,” said Langston. “And we’ll look at Carl on Thursday.
“Dean played on Saturday. He hasn’t played much this season and was aching a bit after the game.
“But he’s got good quality on the ball and made things tick for us.
“He played in central midfield with Wardy (Nick Ward) and Ryan Pirrie — and Wardy had a great game.” The Romans were last night due to finally discover Saturday’s opponents at Hillsfield.
Southam United and Long Eaton United were set to play their second round tie after a raft of weather-related postponements — with the game moved to Coventry Sphinx.
“I’ll be at the match,” said Langston.“When they moved it to Coventry it ended our last chance of getting a game in so Darren and Jack could serve their bans.
“Unfortunately, the equation didn’t work out.” Rocester’s match at Highgate United on Saturday was abandoned to follow up the postponement at Coventry Sphinx and abandonment at home to Kirby Muxloe.
Highgate centre-half Toby Checketts suffered a badly gashed leg in an accidental collision with Mensah Kinch.
“He pulled his sock down and there was a seven inch gash,” said Langston. “He needed 118 stitches from the plastic surgeon.
“It was a nasty injury, but Highgate were really grateful for how we were about it.
“But a week after Craig broke his leg we couldn’t be any other way.
“They were really thankful to (Rocester physio) Mick Ede for what he did and as a club we did everything we could.”
ROMANS FROM: Froggatt, Pirrie, Rogers, Johnson, Allen, Swain, Ward, Alexander, Bromley, Grocott, Kinch, Perks, Morris, Sterling, Ahenkorah, Smith.