BOURNEMOUTH head coach Will Croker has been forced to “shuffle the pack” as he prepares injury-ravaged Lions to visit Henley Hawks in National Two South on Saturday.

Lions have lost club captain and talisman Joe Rees to a knee injury, Sammy Veneroso to a broken hand and Scott Chislett has a hamstring problem.

Freddie Gleadowe - a try scorer in Lions’ opening fixtures - suffered ligament damage when his elbow was dislocated in last weekend’s defeat at home to Worthing.

Grant Hancox, Tom Napier and Dan Stewart are also set to be unavailable this weekend.

But director of rugby Croker is looking forward to his re-shaped team springing a few surprises.

He said: “Not many people are giving us a huge amount of hope in this game. Of course, having picked up a couple of injuries from last week we’ve had to shuffle the pack.

“While we know it’s going to be really tough fixture, it’s still a good opportunity for us to go out and learn more about ourselves, more about our game plan, more about the way we want to play, and try and put it into practice.”

Bournemouth can draw comfort from the return of experienced tight-head prop Luca Firetto and exciting young loose forward Ben Roberts.

The backline undergoes a makeover with a new centre partnership of Carlos Snell taking his place from the bench and wing Alex Everett-Bolter moving in-field.

They also boast a brand new back three of Alex Sutherland at full back, with Chris Jefferson and Ben Meadon on the wings.

Lions’ plight is not helped by a fixture list that packs three of last season’s top-five teams into the Chapel Gate side’s first four fixtures.

“I don’t think it can be underestimated how tough a start the fixture secretaries managed to conjure up for us!” joked Croker.

“The blessing is that a lot of these boys have played at the level before and they’re not frightened by it. They’re not put off by it. They’re not daunted by it.

“We’ve got to stay patient, we’ve got to stay confident, we’ve got to stay true to our beliefs and our game plan.

“We will come good.”