ROCESTER'S players must individually and collectively raise their level to fill the void left by inspirational skipper Craig Holland says manager Dave Langston.
Holland shattered his shin bone following an innocuous challenge in Saturday's abandoned fixture against Kirby Muxloe. The 30-year-old underwent a five-hour operation to pin the break and was only discharged on Wednesday and now faces a lengthy recovery period. And with an FA Vase third round tie on the horizon Langston has challenged his players to step up the mark.
"They have to be prepared to take the extra responsibility on their shoulders," said the Romans boss. "Individuals need to step it up now. They're old enough and experienced enough now. Craig Holland has been a good leader while I've been there. "Craig's actually in decent spirits. When playing I broke my leg three times and you wouldn't wish it on anyone. But it's time for others to step up to the mark. they've all been there and done it."
Langston has plugged the gap in midfield with the capture of former Stapenhill midfielder Dean Bromley. The manager is also closing in on midfielder Carl Morris whose previous clubs include Stafford Town and Stafford Rangers.
Langston said: "Dean is going to be a good addition. He's left footed and can play on the left or in the centre of the park. He's a tidy player. I've had a lot of god feedback about Carl who's a young lad who plays centre midfield."
Bromley could start against Highgate United tomorrow and will definitely play some part in the away fixture. Defender Chris McComisky, who is unavailable for the following week's FA Vase tie, will drop out of the starting 11. Joe Rogers (ankle ligaments) and Mensah Kinch (hamstring) are also injury doubts. And Langston says Saturday's away fixture is all about preparing for the following week's FA Vase tie.
He added: "We all want to do well in the league but the FA Vase match is a big big game. For this Saturday's game I'm looking at players for the following week. I'm not going to play people who can't then play in the Vase. The preparation has started for that game."
Rocester will take on the winner of Tuesday's second round tie between Midland Combination outfit Southam United and Long Eaton United of the Northern Counties East League.
Langston said: "I will definitely be going to that game so things will be fresh in my mind for the Saturday. I know a little bit about Southam who are very direct but don't know much about Long Eaton."
Meanwhile, the Rocester boss has backed the referee's decision to abandon the match against Kirby Muxloe last weekend - and hit out at the away side's antics after the game's premature end with 64 minutes on the clock.
The manager said: "They were quite abusive. They're saying things like accusing us of getting the match called off. OK, they were winning 2-0 and we were playing poor. But I think it was the right decision. Craig was on the pitch for a long time and the weather conditions worsened. "But I'd like to thank all the people for getting in touch with the club and with Craig personally. There's been an awful lot of support for Craig. It means a lot to myself, the club and to Craig."