‘Verbal’ handshakes and trust are playing a major role as Torquay United nail down the new signings which manager Gary Johnson wants to make the Gulls a force in next season’s National League promotion race.

Johnson, who already has new deals with 15 players, is chasing at least four more permanent signings plus loan deals for a hoped-for start to the 2020-2021 season in mid-September.

He has already been linked with centre-forward Danny Wright, who won the NL title under Johnson at Cheltenham Town in 2016.

In the wake of leading scorer Jamie Reid’s departure - he has now agreed to join League Two club Mansfield Town - two strikers are among Johnson’s priorities.

He is also after an experienced defender and, with Kalvin Kalala turning down a new contract, a winger.

But with Government ‘furlough’ measures still in place and little or no revenue around, few pro clubs are actually completing any summer signings at the moment.

Johnson revealed: “This is different from a normal close-season but what we can say to players is ‘We give you our word that we won’t look for anyone else, as long as you give us your word that you won’t look for another club’.

“If that trust is lost on either side, then it wasn’t going to work anyway.

“But there’s two or three of those players around at the moment, and I’m comfortable with that.”

The relaid Plainmoor pitch should be ready for pre-season friendlies from mid-August.

Johnson reports no shortage of potential opponents and United are working on a range of crowd and revenue-generating options which would still meet Covid-19 restrictions.

All that’s really missing at the moment is for the Football League (EFL) and National League to announce that 2020-2021 kick-off date.