Robb keen to be back - and happy to stay at the back for Bognor

Ethan Robb, pictured with club secretary Simon Cook when he signed in the summerEthan Robb, pictured with club secretary Simon Cook when he signed in the summer
Ethan Robb, pictured with club secretary Simon Cook when he signed in the summer
Ethan Robb is happy to continue playing at centre back for the Rocks – even though he signed as a midfielder.

The former Pompey academy player, who moved to Nyewood Lane in the summer, says he is content with his new position all the time it benefits the team.

He was speaking as details were revealed of Bognor’s return to action after the current lockdown. The Rocks will visit Thame United in the FA Trophy on Tuesday, December 8, then go to Brightlingsea Regent in the league on Saturday 12. If they win the Trophy tie, they’ll be in second round action on Tuesday 15.

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Coach Robbie Blake welcomed the imminent return and added: “We’re chatting on WhatsApp with the players and keeping it as upbeat as possible. We were on a decent run before the shutdown and we want to be ready and fit to go once restrictions are lifted.”

For Robb, the return will be a chance to build on his promising start at Nyewood Lane.

Blake and manager Jack Pearce experimented with Robb at centre half after the 5-0 defeat at Hayes & Yeading in the FA Cup. The switch helped Bognor win five out of their next six games and concede only three goals.

Robb said: “It was disappointing to have to stop with all the momentum we were building, but at the same time it’s been good for us to reflect on what was going well.

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“We’ve had a real togetherness recently and a willingness to work hard for each other, and I think it helps now everyone’s clear on how we want to play. It showed in the past few games – we were creating chances and keeping clean sheets.”

Asked about his change of role, Robb said: “I was mostly comfortable with the change. During my scholarship at Pompey, I played a fair amount at centre back, so that definitely helped me.

“I’m confident in my own ability so I trusted myself and just got on with it. The main thing for me though is the team. So long as I’m playing and putting in good performances for everyone else, that’s what matters most.

Although Robb is content with playing in defence for Bognor in the short-term, he still has aspirations of carving out a fruitful career at the heart of midfield. Fortunately for the youngster, Pearce and Blake expect their centre halves to show confidence on the ball and precision in their passing, which is perhaps why he’s warmed quickly to the position.

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He and his defensive partner Joe Cook, who also joined the Rocks this summer, are also expected to roam into midfield from defence when an opportunity arises. According to Robb, the fluid nature of Bognor’s defensive midfield permits him to play more freely from centre back.

"You’ve got to pick your moment when to go forward. Usually, Harvey or Tommy or whoever’s playing in midfield will try and pick up the angle to get on the ball, and that creates the space for me to go. With Jack and Blakey encouraging us to step out and play, I know they’ll be someone covering me because that’s what we work on. From there, it’s just about trusting yourself to take up that position in midfield," he revealed.

Having already experienced a flavour of professional football during his time at Portsmouth, Robb still hopes he’ll eventually break into the professional game, saying: "After coming out of Pompey, Bognor’s a brilliant club to end up at because of the way they play football. Of course, my end goal - being only 18 - is to make my way back into the football league. Hopefully one day, that’ll be with Bognor!"