Gary Johnson: I have faith in Olaf's potential

Olaf Koszela of Torquay United is tackled during the pre season match between Torquay United and Chi

Olaf Koszela in action for Torquay United - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Manager Gary Johnson has stressed his faith in the potential of young Torquay United striker Olaf Koszela, despite signing fellow teenager Rob Street on loan from Crystal Palace to the end of the season.

Koszela, 18, is back in the National League leaders’ first-team squad, along with fellow Academy product Louie Slough, after both spent recent loan spells at Southern League Dorchester Town.

But leading scorer Danny Wright’s hamstring injury has prompted Johnson to take 19-year-old Street from the Eagles to compete for the centre-forward spot with Josh Umerah.

Some Gulls fans have wondered why Johnson had not turned straight to Koszela.

Johnson stressed: “As long as I’m here, Olaf will be here, and I’ve told him that. He doesn’t feel let down at all.

“I first played him in the ‘Conference’ South when he was only 16. He’s got so much potential, he’s a very good goal scorer with a cool head. He also did well in pre-season playing out wide.

“But the South trying to get into the ‘Conference’ is one thing, and this level trying to get into the Football League is a different kettle of fish.

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“Olaf has played most of his football in the JPL (U18) down here, and he didn’t get as many games at Dorchester as we hoped because of the virus.

“Rob has been playing in Palace’s under-23 and Premier League 2 sides.

“That’s not Olaf’s fault, but he’s actually a couple of years behind Rob in real experience.

“Olaf just needs to learn the game, like Louie who’s also training well, and their time will come – you never know when.“

Of Street, Johnson added: “It’s his first loan, but he’s a good student – he’d watched a lot of our games on film before he joined us.

“For a young lad, he’s already a bloke, so to speak, and a bit of a throwback centre-forward, and I’m sure he will do well for us.”

With Tuesday night’s league game against Covid-affected Solihull Moors postponed, Street’s first taste of action is likely to be in Saturday’s FA Trophy tie at Boreham Wood.