WORTHING Football Club joint manager Gary Elphick says striker Tony Nwachukwu has been ruled out for the season – without playing a competitive game for the club.
Nwachukwu joined on a one-year deal in the summer from local rivals Horsham, who he scored 24 times for last season. His arrival excited Worthing fans, however, a stomach muscle injury has ruled him out since pre-season.
Rebels thought Nwachukwu was close to returning on a couple of occasions and a few weeks ago pencilled him in for an under-21 game this month.
However, another setback means the striker is likely to need surgery and Elphick admits it is ‘heart-breaking’ news.
He said: “It doesn’t look like we’re going to see Tony in a Worthing shirt this season. He probably requires surgery, which is heart-breaking news as we were all looking forward to having him involved for the run-in.
“It was always going to be a bonus for us to have him involved this season. I’m delighted with the squad we’ve got but he’d have been another string to the bow.
“A serious injury like his takes time but, hopefully, he can get surgery booked in now, have a good rest and be back for pre-season.
“Jon (Meeney; joint manager) and I have spoken to Tony and he said that as we have stuck with him this season, he will stick with us and come back here when fully fit.” Rebels recorded a fourth successive win and increased their unbeaten run to seven games on Saturday, when they won 3-0 at home to Sittingbourne.
Elphick has now set his side the target of increasing the winning run to five games when they travel to Hythe this weekend.
Worthing achieved a similar run under Adam Hinshelwood last season and Elphick said: “It’s good to set mini targets and we’ll try to match the five-game winning streak that the club achieved last season.
“We’ve got a young and enthusiastic squad and we want them to play without pressure, which is why we just set mini targets and don’t look too far ahead.”
Second-placed Rebels’ four-game winning run has moved them 11 points clear of sixth-placed Faversham in the pursuit of a Ryman League South Division play-off place.
Elphick said: “It’s great to have that gap and we’ve been winning our games when other teams have had matches called off. That’s the benefit of having the 3G pitch and it also gives us that little bit of a mental edge with the points on the board.
“We’ve got to keep winning games, though, to try to put as much pressure on Folkestone as we can.
“Folkestone will, hopefully, have a little blip and then we’ll just see what happens.
“We’ll just continue to take it game by game. Hythe are still hovering around the play-off places but we’ve showed good mettle this season. We’re second in the league and shouldn’t fear them.”
Rebels will meet Whitehawk in the semi-finals of the Sussex Senior Cup, after Hawks overcame Steyning Town 4-0 on Tuesday evening. Elphick said: “We’ll go into it with confidence and it’s always good to test yourself against the best in the county.”
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