BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent manager Tom Rothery is backing his players to make life difficult for title-chasing Dulwich Hamlet.

Saturday’s visitors are in the thick of the Bostik League championship race alongside Billericay Town and Margate.

Regent, in contrast, have lost their last five matches and five of their last six at the Taydal Stadium.

Nevertheless, Rothery is remaining upbeat and confident.

“I really like Dulwich,” he told the Gazette.

“They’re a good club with good roots.

“There’s never any animosity, they try and play football and their supporters give really decent vocal backing.

“They’re not too dissimilar to ourselves, but on a bigger scale.

“We’re under no illusions about the size of the task but maybe, on the back of five straight defeats, it’s the type of fixture that will be good for us.

“People won’t fancy our chances but if we set up right and the players put a shift in, doing the basics well, we can give them a game.

“We need all the elements to come together because if there are any shortcomings on the day we’ll get found out.

“That’s the way it is at this level, especially against a top side like Dulwich.”

Rothery hopes to welcome back Ricky Griggs from injury while Jake Clowsley is poised for his second R’s debut, having recently re-signed from AFC Sudbury.

Skipper Matt Cripps will again miss out due to suspension, following his red card at Leatherhead.

Meanwhile, Regent have extended George Keys’ stay at the Taydal Stadium.

The 18-year-old defender is on a work experience loan arrangement from Colchester United.

He initially signed for a month but will now stay for the rest of the season, subject to paperwork being completed.

“It’s a great experience for George and he’s done a good job since joining,” said Rothery.

“He’s particularly strong in terms of one-on-one defending and although his distribution could be better at times, these are things we're working on with him to improve his development."

Regent have a rescheduled Tolleshunt D’Arcy Memorial Cup semi-final at home to Springfield on Tuesday night (8pm kick-off).