Johnson looks to future with teen pros

Louie Slough. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Louie Slough. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

The signing of midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans from Bristol City has completed his senior transfer business, but Torquay United manager Gary Johnson says he's also buoyed by the longer-term prospects coming through the Gulls' youth ranks.

Olaf Koszela. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Olaf Koszela. Photo: Cameron Geran/PPAUK - Credit: Cameron Geran/PPAUK

Top of the list are teenage pros Olaf Koszela and Louie Slough - their first-team pre-season starts on Monday - but the wider potential was underlined when United's under-18s beat Exeter City away 1-0 in a pre-season game at the weekend.

'There are quite a few of last year's good under-16 group who have moved up now - they have got a real chance of becoming pros in the future,' said Johnson.

'I've seen it in training, they have proved it by going to Exeter and winning, and I'm looking forward to see how quickly those lads develop.'

Torquay-born striker Koszela and centre-half Slough from Paignton are starting their second pro years, while midfielder JJ Evans and left-back Owen Price have just signed their first senior contracts.

'I am excited by how far they can go - Olaf and Louie have got every chance of making a very good living in the game,' said Johnson.

'Olaf has already done most of his 'firsts' with us and he's a real athlete. Louie has summered well and looks a man now.'

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After three loan spells, Lemonheigh-Evans is Johnson's fifth senior signing, in a deal first predicted by the Torbay Weekly.

He is believed to have penned a two-year deal, and Johnson says: 'It's a coup for us - several EFL clubs wanted him last season.'

Lemonheigh-Evans, 23, follows strikers Danny Wright and Andrew Nelson and defenders Gary Warren and Fraser Kerr into Plainmoor.

With Exeter City now taken by the Carabao Cup, United's behind-closed-doors programme reads: Hemel Hempstead Town H Sept 12, AFC Bournemouth U23 H Sept 15, Chippenham Town H Sept 19, Bath City (tbc) Sept 26.

Season-tickets are on sale, but details are still awaited on a new first-team kit and on Covid-related arrangements at Plainmoor.