Torquay United back in training - PPAUK

Picking the right team should be a happy problem

Dave Thomas

Manager Gary Johnson has issued a challenge to his new Torquay United squad – ‘Give me a problem picking the team – every week’.

The Gulls’ rebuilt squad plays its first pre-season friendly against Buckland Athletic at Homers Heath tomorrow night, followed by a trip to Southern League new boys Exmouth Town, managed by Plainmoor’s record appearance maker Kevin Hill, next Tuesday (also 7.30pm).

Johnson has said he believes that this summer’s recruits will be better able to handle the demands of National League football than some of his signings, made in understandable haste after the June 21 Play-Off Final, were at the start of last season.

Several of them eventually adapted, but too late for United to force their way into the POs again, despite an entertaining run of form towards the back end of the campaign.

Johnson has brought in Ipswich Town duo Brett McGavin and Dylan Crowe, ex-Luton and Scunthorpe striker Aaron Jarvis, he’s paid an ‘undisclosed fee’ to Dover Athletic for their 21-year-old captain Ryan Hanson and signed highly-rated Cardiff City midfielder Kieron Evans on a season-long loan.

Aaron Jarvis during a Torquay United training session at Seale Hayne training ground near Newton Abbot. Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
Aaron Jarvis during a Torquay United training session at Seale Hayne training ground near Newton Abbot. Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

All have played either first-team or NL football, and United were hoping to announce up to three more signings in time for tomorrow’s short trip to Newton Abbot.

“I’m confident that we’ll be competitive, but there were times last year, when senior players were unavailable, that I knew the team was weaker,” said Johnson.

“I want that to change this season.

“If someone in the side has to drop out for any reason, I want to pick someone else and know that the team is just as strong.

“I want that problem picking the side every week.”

United are thought to be in the market for a central defender and at least one more striker, and they’ve also been looking at goalkeeping options, with Mark Halstead the only senior keeper on the books.

Johnson may well dip into the loan market again before the NL season starts on August 6.

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