Jack in and Jake out

Torbay Weekly

Torquay United have completed a 'one-in one-out' transfer with the news that Exeter City defender Jack Sparkes has moved to Plainmoor and midfielder Jake Andrews has joined National League South club Havant & Waterlooville, both on loan.

It may not be the end of the Gulls' dealings this week, but whether it turns into a pre-Christmas/New Year squad shake-up remains to be seen.

Sparkes, only 21 but already with 92 first-team appearances to his name, has signed initially for a month (Jan 8), while Andrews, 24, has joined the club which recently knocked Torquay out of the FA Cup until the end of the season.

Exmouth-born Sparkes - he lives in Newton Abbot close to United's training ground - has been a regular at St James Park over the last couple of years, but a broken collarbone injury has limited him to six games so far this season.

Sparkes, who can play left-back or left midfield, recently signed an 18-month contract extension with the Grecians.

"We like him a lot - he has great quality and he is a good athlete," said United manager Gary Johnson.

Andrews has made 115 appearances and scored 22 goals since former manager Gary Owers signed him initially on loan from Bristol City in 2018.

He moved permanently under Johnson a year later.

Andrews has always been a popular player at Plainmoor, and Johnson said: "I love him to death, and we know Jake is still a great footballer, but he missed a lot of pre-season through injury and a lot of the season so far with illness.

"At times like that, other people come in, and you have a different way of thinking about the team.

"We had a meeting, and he asked me if he would be playing regular games now, and I couldn't give him a definite answer.

"Everything is amicable - we haven't had a row or anything like that - and we have agreed, until he gets absolutely sorted with Havant, that we will look after him and his training during the early part of each week."

Andrews said: "I haven't played as much as I really wanted at Torquay - it's just not happening for me at the minute, so it's time to move on."

It is a loan deal at the moment, although Andrews' contract at Torquay is up next summer.

Torquay meet Stockport County at Plainmoor on Saturday, and Johnson hinted that both centre-forward Danny Wright and midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans might be involved.

Wright is back in full training after a foot injury, while Lemonheigh-Evans had to miss last weekend's 2-1 win at Weymouth because a 'positive' Covid contact away from the club forced him to self-isolate.