EAST Thurrock United have been rocked by the sudden departure of Andy Pugh.

The striker has returned to Dartford after a two-month spell with the Isthmian Premier League outfit.

And Rocks boss John Coventry admits the move has come as a blow ahead of tomorrow’s home clash with Lewes.

“Andy has gone back to Dartford,” said Coventry.

“He joined us on dual-registration terms from Dartford but I didn’t expect him to go back there so soon.

“It’s frustrating because he was also injured for a couple of weeks while he was with us.

“Andy is a great lad and, although there were signs where I thought he wanted to stay here, he has decided to leave and there is nothing I can do about it.”

And Coventry confirmed it is unlikely that Rocks will be able to sign a replacement ahead of Lewes’ visit to Rookery Hill.

“The timing of Andy’s departure isn’t great and it doesn’t leave me any time to get anybody in,” added Coventry.

“I have got to try and get a couple of bodies in, but I can’t see it being before this weekend.

“If we want to get someone in from the same level, we have to put in a seven-day approach.

“However, I’m not willing to just bring in anyone because they need to fit in with what we are trying to do.

“Because I wasn’t expecting Andy to leave at this stage, I haven’t really been looking at strikers who could potentially come in.

“I will now have to look at players in that position.”

Lewes will visit south Essex having not been beaten in the Isthmian Premier League since August.

Following a shaky start to the campaign, Lewes’ fine recent form has seen them climb up to 16th in the standings.

But East Thurrock are currently in the play-off places and head into the weekend following an impressive comeback win at Worthing.

Frankie Merrifield levelled matters twice before Ben Marlow netted the winner with an 84th minute volley.

And Coventry is keen to build on the 3-2 victory.

“We are not far away from being a good side,” insists Coventry.

“It’s strength in depth which is holding us back.

“I’ll only be able to name three substitutes at the weekend and that includes a 16-year-old.

“But we deserved our win and it will be good to be back on home soil after being on a plastic pitch last week.

“It’s nice being back at home as we enjoy playing there and we want to improve our home form.”