It’s been a promising start to the annual Torquay United rebuild this year, as Gary Johnson looks to gather a refreshed squad that can take the NLS by storm. I look at what we’ve got already, and most importantly what we need this summer.
Mark Halstead will (should) be one of the best goalkeepers in the National League South, he’s made a commitment to stay at the Gulls and clearly enjoys being the undisputed number 1 after years of bench sitting. Rhys Lovett has been offered a new deal, but with no word from him, Gary Johnson may need to recruit a replacement. With budget restrictions this will most likely be a promising young keeper who could fill in if required. Someone raw like Shaun MacDonald circa 2018 would be nice, the number 2 position could still be crucial if Mark is injured/suspended.
Two first choice defenders are already contracted in and that’s Dean Moxey and Shaun Donnellan, whilst young Ollie Tomlinson will most likely start as a back up and hope for opportunities as the season goes on. The futures of Ross Marshall and Dylan Crowe seem more uncertain to me, in an ideal world Gary Johnson will find a new centre back who can lead the back-line, the alternative is giving Marshall a chance and that’s far from ideal. Can GJ trust Crowe more for 23-24 or will a new home be found for the full back? After such a torrid season I’m not sure if we’ll see Dylan in competitive action for us again, but maybe there is a redemption story ready to be written…. At least one new full back is required, especially if Mox is settled into a CB role. This could be Dan Martin, fitness permitting.
The acquisition of Jack Stobbs is a very positive one for United, and whether the team are playing 3-5-2 or 4-4-2, the ex-Oldham winger should give us a consistent asset down that side. The important thing is we improve our width from the start of 22-23, so a capable left wing-back/winger is imperative for the balance of the team, and at least another winger (maybe 2) would increase options and variety amongst the squad. Wide players often come down from higher league youth teams on loan, players like that could be the final pieces of the 23-24 jigsaw.
We have three solid first team players in the form of Kevin Dawson, Tom Lapslie and Asa Hall. Dawson and Lapslie will want to play every game (unlikely in Tom’s case), whilst Hall will need to be managed through the season, especially with the plastic pitches in the NLS. Has Gary Johnson decided on his plans for Ryan Hanson and Brett McGavin? Both could play a part in the NLS, McGavin has the most technical ability, but can he be energized into a proper player? Otherwise I’d love to see an energetic playmaker come into the equation, somebody with skills and savvy to create chances and bring attributes that Hall/Dawson/Lapslie lack. If United are going to be more forward thinking and fun to watch this season then someone who can operate between the lines and make us more unpredictable would be just the ticket.
Is Aaron Jarvis going to still be at Torquay United for 23-24? It’s a question that’s on the tip of our tongues, and maybe the answer will take a little while to come. There must be interest in the striker after last season, and should a decent offer come in, Torquay United and the player will surely consider it. There’s no doubt that Aaron likes the club and playing for Gary Johnson, so this one could go either way. Stay and he will undoubtedly score goals, move and the United budget should be able to afford suitable replacements. New man Bradley Ash looks like a shrewd signing. He knows the division well and knows how to find the net, whether it’s Jarvis or someone else alongside him, Ash should do well for the Gulls. Let’s hope we can gather up 4 strikers in the squad this summer, a repeat of last season’s ’sub bench of horrors’ is something no-one wants to see. Overall still a job to be done to turn this workmanlike squad into something more entertaining, but time is on our side.