Sinclair support will bring out his best

Torbay Weekly

It's important to keep the confidence of young loan signing Sinclair Armstrong up to get the best out of the 18-year-old Queen's Park Rangers striker, says Torquay United manager Gary Johnson ahead of Saturday's 'Ladies Day' home game against FC Halifax Town.

Dubliner Armstrong scored on his Gulls debut, in a 2-1 home win over Kings' Lynn Town, but he's had goals disallowed in each of United's last two away defeats, 2-1 at Barnet and 1-0 at Aldershot Town on Tuesday night.

In between, he was away for three Euro Qualifying matches with the Republic of Ireland's Under-19, in which he scored two more goals.

Johnson says that replays showed that the decision to disallow his goal at Aldershot was a harsh one, and he added: "Our last two games came after he played three games in six days for the Eire Under-19s, with the travelling (from Eastern Europe) thrown in.  It was a hard ask for him.

"He thinks about his game, and he's disappointed when he's not in the game as much as he wants to be.

"We've got to keep his pecker up, keep him making the runs that make him dangerous - and then find him."

Torquay's hopes of moving to within striking range of the National League Play-Offs have been jolted by the last two defeats, and Johnson stressed the disappointment and frustration of everyone in and around the squad.

He's expected to try and strengthen his roster in the next few weeks, and certainly during January's EFL transfer window, but he maintained of his younger players: "They've got the ability to play at this level, but they haven't found the mental strength yet."

Referring to the first days of players like Ben Whitfield, Aaron Nemane, Frankie Vincent and others, Johnson went on: "We weren't sure - well, we were - but not everyone was sure that they would develop. We've got a little bit the same here.

"We would love to go out and get 16 experienced players who have been there and done it.

"But we have to have a little bit of a mixture, and a few of them are showing a bit of naivety at the moment, and it's not helping the more experienced ones either.

"We've got to rally the troops. But they want to do well for each other and they are still together."

Halifax manager Pete Wild has been batting away speculation linking him with the vacant post at Hartlepool United. But after making the Play-Offs two years ago and nearly doing it last season, that's hardly surprising.

Many more eyes at Plainmoor on Saturday will be on a certain Billy Waters, who is enjoying the best start of his career - 12 goals in 17 games - after eight for the Gulls last season.

Waters had to leave behind his partner and young daughter in the North to join the Covid-enforced Plainmoor 'bubble' in 2020-2021, and getting back to them played a part in his departure in the summer.

The Shaymen are still fifth, despite a 2-1 home defeat by Wrexham in midweek, and Waters is not the only danger.

Summer signing Matty Warburton (Stockport, Northampton) is the sort of 'been there-done it' midfielder Johnson was talking about, while the well-travelled ex-Plymouth Argyle striker Jordan Slew is a muscular presence up front.