Transfer rumours as the Gulls face Wrexham

Joseph Bulmer

You can bet your next energy bill that Torquay United manager Gary Johnson has been pulling out all the stops to make a signing or two ahead of Saturday's home game against Wrexham at Plainmoor.

The Gulls often leave these announcements until late in the week, or even match-day, which may help to keep the opposition in the dark, but also ramps up the rumour-mill.

Even though owner Clarke Osborne is ready to back an incoming or two, don't discount the chances of some departures, if only to help balance the books.  Young midfielder Gabby Rogers has already gone out to Plymouth Parkway on loan, while winger Byron Moore has left at the end of his three-month contract.

After ten 'blank' days since the 2-0 home defeat by Solihull Moors, United should have defenders Joe Lewis and Dean Moxey back after their Covid issues.

But injuries to midfielder Tom Lapslie (groin) and striker Danny Wright (hamstring) have highlighted other areas.

It's Wright's problem - he shouldn't be out for long, by the way - which must have been concentrating the mind of Johnson and his staff most.

Proper centre-forwards are premium property at any level, and it's highly unlikely that United would have gone so close to promotion last season without the summer signing of Wright.

United's attack this season has sometimes looked lightweight without him, but players of his stature and experience are increasingly difficult to find and sign.

Unless, of course, you're prepared to pay the sort of money which Wrexham (6th), five points behind leaders Stockport County, have been throwing around.

Hollywood actor owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have sanctioned a level of spending never seen at National League level before.

As if the earlier arrivals of League One players like James Jones (Lincoln), Paul Mullin (Cambridge), Ben Tozer (Cheltenham) and Liam McAlinden (Morecambe) weren't enough, Red Dragons manager Phil Parkinson has recently been allowed to pay AFC Wimbledon £300,000 for striker Ollie Palmer, reportedly a similar sum for Burton Albion's attacking midfielder Tom O'Connor and also sign left-back Callum McFadzean from Crewe.

Factor in the sort of wages which only they, and rivals like Stockport, Chesterfield and Notts County, can afford, and it's no surprise that the NL is being dubbed the 'Haves-v-Have Nots' this season.

For all that, Wrexham - they've lost only twice in their last 15 league and cup games - haven't been able to roll everyone over.  United drew there 1-1 in October and Mullin's early red card helped Maidenhead to snatch a similar result last weekend.

Leading scorer Mullin's dismissal rules him out on Saturday, but even with the experienced Jake Hyde also sidelined, Parkinson has other options up front - Palmer, the lanky Kwame Thomas and Jordan Ponticelli among them.

Don't be surprised if another man exercises just as big an influence on this game.

Former Plainmoor favourite Luke Young is now in his fourth season at the Racecourse Ground, captain and he's just signed a contract extension for next season.

With up to a thousand fans expected to travel from North Wales, United are hoping for their biggest gate of the season, beating the 3,380 who saw the 3-0 Boxing Day win over Yeovil Town.