Manager Gary Johnson has described the surprise signing of versatile defender Dean Moxey from Devon rivals Exeter City as ‘a statement of intent’ by Torquay United’s board.

Johnson invited 34-year-old Moxey to train with the Gulls as soon as he learned that left-back Liam Davis’ recovery from a serious ankle injury will not deliver him back to fitness by the start of the National League season on October 8.

Exeter-born Moxey, who made his 550th career appearance in City’s League Two play-off defeat by Nortampton Town at Wembley this summer, has now become the Gulls’ sixth close-season senior signing.

Johnson had not planned to increase his 20-strong squad before the news on Davis, and he said: “We had to act quickly, and we have.

“Liam is going to be out longer than anticipated - it’s very unfortunate for him.

“Dean has already shown his character, commitment and quality in our training.

“He’s still got ambitions, and it’s another statement of intent by our club’s board of directors.”

Like Davis, Moxey started his career - Derby County, Crystal Palace, Bolton Wanderers and back to Exeter - as a left winger, before reverting to left-back, ‘wing-back’ and even centre-back on occasions.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be with teams which have won promotions in my career, and I came back to Exeter to try and get another one - unfortunately that didn’t happen last season,” said Moxey.

“I am at Torquay to try and get that promotion back to the Football League.

“Gary is ambitious. I wouldn’t have come here just to settle down - I want to win things, and that’s the aim.”

The NL fixtures are due to be announced next Tuesday, September 8, ahead of United’s first behind-closed-doors friendly against NL South club Hemel Hempstead at Plainmoor four days later on Saturday, September 12.