Midfielder in recovery as Gulls prepare for first pre-season friendly

Torquay United player Armani Little. Photo: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Torquay United player Armani Little. Photo: Steve Bond/PPAUK - Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

Torquay United midfielder Armani Little is confident of regaining top form, but the Gulls are being 'very cautious' about his return to full fitness.

Little is on the way back from surgery to correct a hamstring injury last February, the third time he had been struck down with similar problems last season.

The 23-year-old former Southampton and Oxford United player has been in rehabilitation during the spring and summer, including two visits to the FA's National Football Centre at Burton-on-Trent.

Manager Gary Johnson stresses: 'It's going well with Armani, but we are just being very cautious with him.

'He's due to go back to Burton once more, because they've got all the testing equipment for making sure that he's 100% right before we bring him back into competitive games.

'But he says that his leg feels stronger than ever, and he is very confident and happy.'

Little won't be involved in Saturday's first pre-season friendly against NL South side Hemel Hempstead Town, behind closed doors at Plainmoor, and neither will attacking left-back Liam Davis.

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Davis' recovery from a complicated ankle injury, sustained trying to equalise in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Maidstone United last November, has already been a long one.

But he has suffered a setback and the recent signing of Dean Moxey from Exeter City confirmed that Davis' return has been delayed by months rather than weeks.

United's squad, further strengthened by the arrival this week of former Charlton Athletic and Ebbsfleet United striker Josh Umerah, is carrying one or two other niggling injuries.

Johnson says: 'When people see who plays against Hemel Hempstead and who doesn't, they'll be able to draw their own conclusions. But generally we're in very good shape.'

Hemel, who have completely rebuilt their squad under new manager Lee Bircham, are expected to feature one of their summer recruits - former United defender George Essuman, who has joined the Tudors after spells with Dulwich Hamlet and Margate.