Torquay United begin the Sutton chase
- Credit: Micah Crook/PPAUK
If Torquay United's match at Sutton United on April 13 is going to be as important as all Gulls want it to be, they must cut into the ten-point gap which currently separates themselves in third place from the National League leaders.
Even before United travel to promotion rivals Wrexham on Easter Monday, or welcome Weymouth to Plainmoor five days later, that 'push' must start with Good Friday's home game against Woking (3pm).
United have it all to do, especially after their 1-0 defeat at lowly Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend.
But manager Gary Johnson feels confident enough, with senior players returning after injury and the signing of Sweden Under-21 international striker Benji Mbunga-Kimpioka from Sunderland, to have done some 'deck-clearing' this week.
Improving squad strength, not finance, was the major factor behind the departures of loanees Rob Street (Crystal Palace), Max Sheaf (Hull City), James Hamon (Truro City) and Marcin Brzowzski (QPR).
Comeback duo Danny Wright and Gary Warren both played in a reserve friendly earlier this week, and Johnson says: "It's possible that Danny will be in the squad against Woking."
Defender Kyle Cameron, who has been on a hamstring-testing week at the FA's Rehab Centre at Burton-on-Trent, could be only a fortnight away from fitness, although wingers Aaron Nemane and Ben Whitfield may be a bit longer.
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The big question is: With or without some of them, can United pick up enough points from Woking (18th), Wrexham and Weymouth (H) to put Sutton under any pressure before that trip to Gander Green Lane?
Torquay and Woking are old league and cup rivals, of course, and it was the Cards who knocked United out of the FA Trophy (1-0) at Kingfield recently.
But even before their surprising loss (1-0) in the FA Trophy Semi-Final at Hereford last Saturday, manager Alan Dowson had warned of changes to come, and now he says: "Some of our players in the next few games are fighting for their places."
The Cards are likely to field their usual defence of Jack Cook, Moussa Diarra and former Plainmoor centre-half Ben Gerring, big lads all, and left-back Josh Casey.
But they are without attacking players Jamar Loza, Malachi Napa, Matt Jarvis and Crawley Town loanee Sam Ashford through injury.
Behind Torquay, the Play-Off pack is closing and there are some other important match-ups over the holiday weekend.
Friday - Boreham Wood (14) v Sutton (1), Hartlepool (2) v Dagenham, Aldershot (13) v Stockport (4), Notts Co (6) v Wrexham (5), Eastleigh (9) v Chesterfield (7); Monday - Solihull Moors v Sutton, Boreham Wood v Hartlepool, Stockport v Bromley (10), Woking v Notts Co, Halifax (8) v Weymouth.