GUTTED Tom Killick revealed that Poole Town were set to lose Sam Clarke and admitted the defender’s unavailability was a “tremendous blow”.

Versatile Clarke, who has played all across the back four during his successful spell at Tatnam, is poised to sit out games, at least in the short term, due to work commitments.

The former Weymouth right-back has made 22 starts for Poole this season but will not feature in the Dolphins’ upcoming matches, with the possibility that his absence could become permanent.

Boss Killick told the Daily Echo: “Sam cannot commit to football at our level so we will be without him for the foreseeable future, possibly permanently, which is a tremendous blow because he has been a real stalwart.”

The setback has been cushioned by the continuing good form of highly-rated Will Spetch and Jamie Whisken.

Spetch has taken the headlines this season but Killick was keen to highlight the performances of unsung hero Whisken, who has made 31 starts in all competitions.

Killick said: “Will Spetch is rightly getting the plaudits but Jamie Whisken has been immense all season. As a pairing, I would not swap them for any other in the league.”

The central defensive duo will be tested when second-placed Chesham visit Tatnam in the Southern Premier tomorrow (3pm).

Poole, who have lost just one league game all season, are 11 points behind their rivals but with six games in hand. The Dolphins, unbeaten in 11 matches, claimed a 2-0 away win when the teams met in November.

Killick added: “It was very evident that although we won the game, Chesham were a high-quality side and one of the best we had faced.

"If we could get three points against them, it would be very significant.”

Dolphins: (from) Buchel, Emmerson, Martin, Charles, Whisken, Pettefer, Chiedozie, Devlin, Elliott, Brooks, Preston, Cann, Spetch, Turner, Lowes, Davies, Hutchings.

  • In the Wessex League Premier Division, Poppies host Totton & Eling, while Christchurch entertain Brockenhurst.

Hamworthy United visit Horndean and Verwood Town host Blackfield & Langley.

New Milton Town host Hythe & Dibden in Wessex One, with Ringwood Town at home against Laverstock & Ford.