Torquay United manager Alan Knill, still angry about last Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Fleetwood Town, has thrown the proverbial gauntlet down to his ‘reserve’ players ahead of Tuesday afternoon’s development squad friendly against Plymouth Argyle at Plainmoor (2pm).
All the senior professionals who did not start at Fleetwood are expected to play against the Pilgrims, with the exception of winger Billy Bodin, goalkeeper Michael Poke and centre-back Kirtys McKenzie.
Bodin is still away on Wales Under-21 duty, Poke is being held back after recovering from a thigh injury and McKenzie is ill.
“There’s always extra on the next reserve game after a defeat for the first team, because they have to show if they are ready to step up,” Knill said. “We don’t go overboard after a win and we don’t panic after bad one result but, if I was one of the lads playing against Plymouth, I’d be doing my best to get in the team for Rochdale on Saturday.”
Club physiotherapist Damian Davey explained the thinking behind Poke sitting out Tuesday’s game. The goalkeeper is back in full training after a torn thigh muscle which has kept him out since the start of pre-season.
“Michael has got a fair bit of scar tissue in his thigh, and he’s going to have to be careful how he looks after that in the future,” said Davey.
“If we were a Premier League club, we’d keep him in cotton wool for a few more weeks yet. We’re trying to get him back as quickly as we can, it’s just that we’re playing safe with him for another week.”
Poke is now expected to make his return in next Tuesday’s Devon St Luke’s Challenge Cup second-round tie at home to Ilfracombe Town.
Trainee Conor Thompson, who has been reserve to Martin Rice in the first team, is on international duty with Northern Ireland’s Under-19 squad, so Academy scholar Daniel Lavercombe is likely to play against the Pilgrims.