Tough player decisions ahead as Gaffer tries to build Torquay United squad fit for success

Torbay Weekly

Manager Gary Johnson is ready to make tough decisions on the futures of several Torquay United players to try and keep the Gulls' fading National League promotion chances alive.

United fans had hoped to see their side move into the top half of the table with successive away games at Barnet and Aldershot Town, after a recent fourth successive home win over Dover Athletic (2-1).

But Torquay lost both matches in the space of four days, 2-1 at Barnet at the weekend and 1-0 to the Shots on Tuesday night.

United (17th) have now lost eight of their first 16 games, as many as in the whole of last season's run to the play-off final.

Johnson said after the Aldershot defeat, settled by home captain Lewis Kinsella's 85th minute free-kick: "We are in a bit of a rut at the minute, until we get everybody back fit and flying.

"I thought the players actually worked hard and we had enough of the ball. But we didn't have an end-product, and they (Aldershot) didn't have either, to be fair."

Ahead of Saturday's game against fifth-placed FC Halifax Town - it's 'Ladies' Day' at Plainmoor - Johnson added: "Our home form is the only thing that's keeping us at bay, as it were.

"We have to decide 'Who Can?' and 'Who Can't?' about some players.

"When it gets nearer to January (transfer window), decisions have to be made on people you've got in the club and on players at clubs where they might start releasing them.

"I've said a few home truths to some of them, and I will just try to keep building the squad.

"We need a few results to get us within reach of the play-offs - five or six points by the New Year, instead of 10-12 which is a hard task."

In the wake of the play-off final defeat in June, United could not compete with the spending power of clubs like Stockport County, Wrexham, Notts County and Chesterfield, for the sort of proven pros who are key to success in the NL.

Johnson and his staff have been trying to develop several promising younger signings, but they haven't delivered so far, and injuries to older, influential men like Asa Hall and Danny Wright have hit them hard.