'Big job now is to bring players back to their best state again'

Gary Johnson before the match between Torquay United and Barnet at Plainmoor on Saturday

Gary Johnson before the match between Torquay United and Barnet at Plainmoor on Saturday - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Manager Gary Johnson says that he and his backroom staff are leaving no stone unturned to make sure that Torquay United tackle the National League Play-Offs at their best, mentally and physically.

The Gulls, whose 2-2 home draw with lowly Barnet last weekend helped Sutton United to clinch the title and automatic promotion, are guaranteed to finish runners-up no matter what happens in their final league game at Altrincham this Saturday.

United then have a fortnight's break before a play-off semi-final at Plainmoor on June 12 and, if they win there, another eight days before a final at Bristol City's Ashton Gate Stadium on Sunday, June 20.

The schedule will test all Johnson's experience and know-how, and he met with his coaching and medical staff on Tuesday to plan how they will tackle it.

"Of course, I was disappointed and frustrated at the end of the Barnet game, as everyone was," said Johnson - United led 2-0 (Jake Andrews, Connor Lemonheigh-Evans) midway through the first half.

"But after the adversity we've had with injuries and the demands on a small group in a concertina'd season, we have ended up second in the league.

"We can be really proud of our team.

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"When all teams are tired, the big job now is to bring the players back to their best state again.

"We've got breaks between the last three games, hopefully, and we have to get the balance right between rest and training.

"It's about getting their energy levels back, so they're ready, mentally and physically, for whatever is put in front of us."

In the play-off semis, United to face the winners of whoever finishes fifth and sixth.

Voting has closed in the Torbay Weekly-sponsored Player Of The Year poll, and the news on reigning PoY Ben Whitfield, who missed the Barnet game, is encouraging.

Whitfield (knee) has suffered a minor setback, but he expects to be back for the play-offs.