Table-topping Gulls ‘confident’ as they prepare to tackle unbeaten Hartlepool
- Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK
‘Confident - but not over-confident’ is how manager Gary Johnson describes the mood of his table-topping Torquay United squad as they tackle unbeaten Hartlepool United in today’s live BTSport televised game at the Victoria Ground at 3pm.
Johnson reports no new injury problems from the 4-1 midweek win at Aldershot Town which lifted the Gulls two points clear of Stockport County.
Indeed, ex-Hartlepool defender Fraser Kerr is the latest player to join the squad after injury, although he will struggle even to get a place on the subs bench on Teesside.
Also close to contention, but not expected to feature this weekend, is United’s latest signing, ex-Cheltenham Town and Northampton Town striker Billy Waters.
Johnson revealed: “Billy is training before everyone else, with everyone and afterwards as well, and he’s not a million miles away because he’s a naturally fit lad anyway.
“But he won’t be on the bench this time - he’s got to earn that right.”
With five successive league and cup wins behind his men, Johnson said: “There’s a lot of confidence in the camp, but we’re not over-confident.
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“Hartlepool are right up there too, and we will have to be at our best to beat them.”
Fourth-placed Pools’ unbeaten start includes wins over Aldershot, Chesterfield and Maidenhead, and a 6-0 rout of Ilkeston Town in the FA Cup.
But at the Victoria Ground they have been held to draws against Bromley (0-0) and Altrincham (1-1) recently, and it took a penalty by Ben Killip to deny Alty a late winner on Tuesday night.
Former AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor has given new contracts to former Kidderminster defender Ryan Johnson and ex-Middlesbrough midfield starlet Luke Williams this week.
Key men in midfield are 32-year-old stalwart Nicky Featherstone, now in his seventh season at the club, and versatile winger Luke Molyneux, while United must also subdue the muscular Mason Bloomfield (Dagenham, Norwich, Crawley) up front.
Second-placed Stockport are at home to Weymouth, but Sutton (3rd) have to sit out this weekend after Wrexham, with five players testing positive for Covid-19, pulled out of their game at the Racecourse Ground.