Torquay United boss Gary Johnson in plea to keep five subs rule

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United, during Torquay United's return to training at Seale Hayne n

Gary Johnson, manager of Torquay United, during Torquay United's return to training at Seale Hayne near Newton Abbot on Monday. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson hopes that the National League breaks ranks and allows five substitutes to be used in any game next season.

The Premier League allowed five subs, instead of three, throughout its just-completed 2019-2020 season, citing 'player welfare' during the Covid-19 crisis.

But it has now dropped the measure, and the Football League (EFL) is expected to follow suit soon.

The 2020-2021 National League campaign does not kick off until October 3 and Johnson, who welcomed the Gulls players back for pre-season training this week, says: 'I really hope they allow five subs.'

Johnson believes that lower-division squads are going to be under unprecedented pressures, and the ability to make extra substitutions would benefit everyone.

'From October 3 to May 29, we've got to fit in 46 league games plus cup matches. It's going to be very tight,' he stressed.

'We're going to be playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday more often than not.

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'It's asking a lot of players, especially when you take in things like ups and downs in form and the risk of injury.

'If by some chance any clubs have a Covid problem and they have to isolate, then games will also be rearranged for when people have recovered.

'Let's hope that we don't have games off because of the weather - it will only make things worse.

'Most of the Premier League clubs didn't want five subs because their fourth and fifth subs weren't as good as the Liverpools and Man Citys, but allowing five in our league would be a good option all round.

'It would give more players more game time, especially younger lads who you could send on for good experience, maybe if you're leading 3-0.'

The National League is due to announce its fixture list on September 8, less than a month before the first round of matches.

Torquay are finalising reduced-capacity details with Torbay Council before they release their next batch of season-tickets, although the Government has already allowed clubs below NL level to admit limited numbers of fans to friendlies.