Wheeler blow is a chance for others

Hillians could be without striker Nicky Wheeler for up to two months after he broke his metatarsal in Saturday’s pulsating 3-3 home draw with third-placed Dulwich Hamlet.

That is a real blow but manager Ian Chapman was happy to look on the bright side: “Nicky was our best attacker until Pat (Harding) hit top form but it does give someone else the chance to stake a claim.

“It’s difficult when you don’t have a reserve team and I can understand players being unhappy when they’re not getting a regular game. It’s also difficult to come straight in and make an impression. Sometimes it takes two or three games to adjust.

“But it’s very much a squad game these days and I believe we’ll have to seriously think about running a reserve team next season.”

Chapman added he needed to make a long term decision on a couple of players who have been training with Hillians but does not expect to be going outside the club for any permanent signings in the near future.

“I’m happy enough with what we have here. We’re now starting to play the kind of passing game I want to see. I couldn’t manage or watch a team who don’t play that way although, obviously, on occasions you need to take a different approach.”

On the credit side, Kai Bichard impressed when he was introduced in the second-half on Saturday and could be the natural replacement for the gifted Wheeler.

Experienced defender Stuart Tuck trained this week and is expected to return at Walton & Hersham on Saturday.

Keeper Mark Zawadski is also available before starting a two-game suspension. He will miss Tuesday’s Sussex Senior Cup tie at home to County League Rye and the next league game, which will be at Folkestone on December 1 after Saturday week’s home game had to be postponed because scheduled opponents Maidstone are still in the FA Trophy.

Chapman has been in touch with Ringmer boss Sammy Donnelly about the possibility of Tom Rand covering for Zawadski. Rand stood in when the keeper served a one match ban when Hillians drew 1-1 in the league at Herne Bay in early October.

Rand did not play for Ringmer when they lost 4-3 in the Senior Cup tie that earned Rye Tuesday’s trip to Leylands Park.

Meanwhile, Jonno Melia has joined Kit Tregear as a dual signing at County League club Shoreham. Melia was one of several players who, understandably, wanted regular football.

Three youth players have made the England Schools squad for a Home International series to be held at Lilleshall on December 1-2.

Luke Donaldson, Curtis Gayler and Elliott Taylor all came through the final trial to book their place.