Johnson tells of 'unbelievable' effort to complete transfer deal plus Covid test in just 48 hours

Joe Lewis of Torquay United during the National League match between Torquay United and Sutton Unite

Joe Lewis of Torquay United during the match between Torquay United and Sutton United at Plainmoor on Tuesday - Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson revealed the ‘unbelievable’ international effort to get the signing of Swansea City defender Joe Lewis completed in time for him to play in Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at home to National League chasers Sutton United.

It can often take a week for transfers involving the England and Wales FAs and FIFA, to go through.

But 21-year-old Lewis’s deal, plus a ‘negative’ Covid-19 test, was completed in only 48 hours.

“We only really set things in motion on Sunday afternoon,” said Johnson.

“We didn’t think we’d ever get it done in time for him to play against Sutton, and it’s unbelievable that it was – I’m still not sure how it was all sorted by Tuesday afternoon.

“I needed someone who could step straight into the team and, after his time on loan with us last season, Joe could do that – I was really pleased with his performance.”

A cloud may still hang over the National League, and the Covid-funding issues which threaten the season but leaders United continue to do their talking on the pitch.

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The ten-man Gulls followed up their 0-0 draw at Notts County with another goalless stalemate against second-placed Sutton, despite defender Dean Moxey’s two-card dismissal in the 56th minute.

The NL North and South divisions are already suspended, but Torquay and a majority of ‘Premier’ clubs are in favour of carrying on.

United travel to bottom-of-the-table Barnet on Saturday with their nine-point lead intact and Johnson stressing: “We have played two of our toughest games and kept both those teams at bay.”

Johnson admitted that he wouldn’t choose to watch Tuesday’s game again, if he didn’t need to conduct his usual post-match review.

“The lads were disappointed themselves, and we’ve got to step it up at Barnet.”

Tuesday’s draw, which included a debut off the bench for Crystal Palace loanee striker Rob Street, did not live up to its billing.

But United went close several times before and after Moxey’s departure, and Sutton were seldom allowed to make their extra man count.

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