EAST Thurrock United players are gaining interest from other clubs since John Coventry announced he will step down as boss at the end of the season.

A host of Rocks stars have been sounded out by rivals over the course of the last week.

But Coventry is thankful after those being targeted confirmed they will remain at the Grayers Graphics Stadium until the summer.

“The players have been brilliant and are sticking with me,” said Coventry, whose reign will come to an end following 13 campaigns in the hotseat.

“Since the announcement that was I was going to leave was made, a lot of clubs have contacted my players and tried to persuade them to leave.

“The vultures have appeared because they know changes are being made at the club, but the players have told me they will see the season out with us.

“I totally respect and thank them for that because it’s fantastic to know they won’t turn their back on me.”

Rocks remain 13 points adrift of the Isthmian Premier League play-off places after suffering a 2-1 defeat to strugglers Corinthian-Casuals on Tuesday.

First half goals from Gabriel Odunaike and Benjamin Checklit resulted in Danny Cossington’s effort being no more than a consolation.

And Coventry believes East Thurrock’s dreams of breaking into the top five have vanished.

“We have got to be realistic,” added Coventry.

“I know it is still mathematically possible for us to get into the play-offs and the chance has not technically gone.

“But I’m aware of how many games we would need to win in order to be in and around it.

“With such a small group of players, it’s not looking likely.

“We only have 12 senior players to choose from, so I don’t have the luxury of being able to rest players.”

But Coventry is refusing to criticise his threadbare squad after falling away from contention for a play-off spot.

“I was massively disappointed with the result at Corinthian-Casuals and our performance was below the level we expect,” admitted Coventry.

“But I am not going to criticise my players because the situation they are playing under is difficult for them. I understand and respect them for that.

“We have 13 games to go and it’s going to be a difficult end to the season.

“We’ve had a small group of players all season and it’s difficult to cope in the situation we find ourselves in.”