CANVEY Island have been dealt a major blow ahead of tonight’s Isthmian North clash with Brentwood Town after it was confirmed Sam Bantick is set for a spell on the sidelines.

Bantick was forced off during the first half of the Gulls’ midweek win over Cambridge City.

And the winger, who joined in November, will miss the opportunity to take on former club Brentwood due to the injury setback.

“Banno has a grade two ligament strain in his ankle, so he could be out for a few weeks,” said Canvey boss Mark Bentley.

“He is not enjoying any luck at the moment because he had only just returned to the team after having a kidney stone.

“We have a difficult run of games coming up, so being without Banno is a blow.”

Bentley has also rated central defender Darren Phillips and top goalscorer Jason Hallett at 50/50 to feature at Brentwood as both are struggling with hamstring problems.

The Gulls make the short journey knowing a win would see them break into the play-off places ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.

Canvey are currently two points adrift of fifth-placed Bury Town.

And Bentley wants to put pressure on the fellow play-off chasers by making it back-to-back victories tonight.

“If we can get three points, we will go into the final play-off spot and that would be a massive positive,” added Bentley, who is enjoying his first full season at the Canvey helm.

“The teams above and below us have games in hand but we would rather have the points on the board already.

“Knowing we can break into the top five is a nice little incentive for the players to have going into tonight’s game.

“It’s up to the players to deliver the necessary result and then the pressure is on Bury and the chasing pack to keep winning games.”

Ernest Okoh has made three appearances since penning a deal with the Gulls following his departure from neighbours Basildon United earlier this month.

Okoh is in line to retain his spot in Bentley’s starting line-up at third-from-bottom Brentwood.

And the Canvey chief is pleased with how the winger has adjusted to life at Park Lane.

“Ernest has been really good and given us something different,” admitted Bentley.

“He is very direct and can take a player on but his final ball needs to be worked on.

“Ernest is getting into good areas and we can work on his decision making into training, but there are positive signs.”