Torquay United manager Gary Johnson - Credit: Pinnacle

Echoes of last season as the exodus continues at Torquay United

Dave Thomas

Torquay United fans who may have been resigned to losing at least three Plainmoor favourites this summer are still getting their heads round the news that the mini-exodus could be larger than they expected.

It's hardly been a secret that midfielders Armani Little and Connor Lemonheigh-Evans and defender Joe Lewis had turned down new extended contracts last January.

But manager Gary Johnson has now revealed that versatile defender Ben Wynter, ever-present last season, Player Of The Year and goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald and veteran centre-forward Danny Wright have also opted to leave.

Especially in football, nothing lasts for ever. But it doesn't mean that departing players haven't cared - on the contrary, anyone who's been remotely close to the current squad knows that the affection behind their farewell messages are genuine.

Wynter, who wants to be closer to his wider family in south London, and MacDonald, who is chasing an EFL contract, have been at Plainmoor for four years each and have become part of the fixtures and fittings.

After 161 games, and one or two pretty important goals, Wynter said: "When I joined four years ago, little did I know what would follow - playing over 150 games for this amazing club has been an honour.

"I feel it's time to move on and start a new chapter. I leave with a heavy heart, but nothing but good memories.

"I will follow this club always."

MacDonald, who has made 118 appearances, said: "It's been an absolute pleasure, and Torquay will always be somewhere I'll call home. Thanks to everyone who made me feel so welcome from the first, but it's time to start a new chapter in my career."

Wright, 37, has been commuting up and down the M5 from his home in Gloucester for the last two seasons, scoring 17 goals in 58 matches.

He also played under Johnson and with assistant manager Aaron Downes, close friends both, at Cheltenham Town, and he said: "It was such a hard decision to make.

"I gave it my all, but I don't think I would have been able to have kept up another season away from the family. It was time to put them first."

It now remains to be seen what happens to Little, Lemonheigh-Evans - a move back to his native Wales with Newport County is one of the rumours there - and Lewis.

But after 16 players were offered new deals or were already under contract, United have suddenly experienced a shake-up on a par with last summer.

Then, in the wake of the Play-Off Final defeat at Ashton Gate, United lost goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, Kyle Cameron, loanees Adam Randell and Sam Sherring, Ben Whitfield, Aaron Nemane and MacDonald.

Fast-forward 12 months, and substitute Little, Lemonheigh-Evans, Lewis, Wynter, Wright and MacDonald, and the team that finished last season has also lost talented QPR loanee Stephen Duke-McKenna.

Johnson obviously had an inkling that he might lose several key men, and that will have guided his thoughts and actions over the raft of new signings which will be on their way over the next couple of months.

As always, it's never boring at Plainmoor..!

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