Manager Gary Johnson says he will continue to ‘manage’ the return to action of captain Asa Hall over the next few games in an effort to ensure that the midfielder plays a major part in Torquay United’s season.
Hall, who missed part of pre-season with a lower calf injury, was sent on 11 minutes from time in the Gulls’ first match last weekend, having an immediate effect as Stockport County were beaten 1-0 in stoppage-time.
The 33-year-old former Luton, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and Barrow player, now in his third season at Plainmoor, started Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat at Eastleigh and was an impressive figure as United dominated the first half, leading through Sam Sherring’s 26th minute header.
Johnson took Hall off in the 69th minute, and Eastleigh recovered to win with two Ben House goals in the 73rd and 82nd minutes.
“I would normally have left Asa on, but it was always the plan to take him off at some point,” said Johnson, speaking ahead of today’s third game of the National League campaign at Bromley (3pm).
“His experience and his quality are important to us, he is only just back from injury and we are going to manage his time on the pitch.
“The last thing we want to do is push him too hard now and then risk losing him again for longer.”
United are waiting on the fitness of midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, who was taken off after an hour at Eastleigh after suffering a blow in the ribs.
But Johnson reported that goalkeeper Lucas Covolan, who needed treatment for a thigh knock during the second half on Tuesday, is fine.
New signing Dean Moxey completes a three-match suspension this weekend, and United are still expected to be without centre-backs Gary Warren (calf) and Fraser Kerr (back), midfielder Armani Little (hamstring), striker Andrew Nelson (knee) and longer-term absentee Liam Davis (ankle).
Johnson says that Warren is ‘very close’ and Little is training again after a final series of post-op strength tests at the FA’s Rehab Centre at Burton-on-Trent.
Kerr, who jarred his back in a friendly against Hemel Hempstead, and Nelson, who over-extended his knee against AFC Bournemouth U23s last month, are not long-term casualties.
Bromley opened their season with a 4-1 win over Dover Athletic on their 3G all-weather Hayes Lane pitch on Tuesday night, strikers Michael Cheek (2) and Ben Williamson among the goals.
They recently re-signed young forward Reeco Hackett-Fairchild on loan, having sold him to Portsmouth last year, although he did not play in the Dover win.