JOHN Coventry has reassured East Thurrock United fans that he has not given up on trying to keep the club in the National League South.

Rocks head to the Aspect Arena for a local derby with Concord Rangers today, with kick-off at 3pm.

And Coventry admitted that working on a small budget is affecting East Thurrock’s progress.

The Rocks boss said: “No-one at the club has given up on staying in this league, but the problems of working with a small budget are showing.

“I’m not one to bang on about money because we are what we are and have to live within the means we know we have, but it does make a difference when talking to players.”

Coventry has also found recruiting new players difficult this term.

Having secured their National League South safety last season, Coventry decided to allow the vast majority of his squad to leave Rookery Hill.

But with Rocks in danger of the drop, Coventry has been forced to look for new options regularly throughout the campaign.

However, East Thurrock are unable to compete with the likes of full-time side Torquay United and local rivals Billericay Town when it comes to the financial side of the game.

And Coventry is also not helped by Rocks having the third lowest average attendance in the National League South.

Only Hungerford Town and Truro City, who are playing their home fixtures close to 100 miles away at Torquay’s Plainmoor due to renovation work at their Treyew Road stadium, boast a smaller average attendance than East Thurrock’s 314.

And Coventry conceded he has been welcoming players who he has little knowledge of to Rookery Hill.

Coventry added: “There are certainly some inflated wage structures in this division.

“Of course, when you’re getting a thousand coming through the turnstiles, it makes a world of difference.

“I have been making changes to the squad for varying reasons and have brought in some new players who, I have to admit, I did not know a great deal about.”

East Thurrock secretary Neil Speight has sympathy for Coventry after a frustrating opening half of the season.

“I have a lot of sympathy for Covo,” said Speight.

“Players have agreed to join us and then gone back on their word.

“Covo has been deeply hurt by the actions of at least one player who we moved heaven and earth to bring in but didn’t have the guts to even speak to John after changing his mind.

“Covo has always been straightforward and honest with players and clubs, so it’s a real shame that his example is not the norm.

“As the games tick away, the threat of relegation draws ever nearer and the fact that battles at the wrong end of the table are a rarity shows how much we have achieved.”