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Changes are promised as mis-firing Torquay United bid to increase goal output

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 24, 2012

Goalkeeper Michael Poke is ready to return for Torquay United after attaining full fitness  PICTURE: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

Goalkeeper Michael Poke is ready to return for Torquay United after attaining full fitness PICTURE: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

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Changes are a certainty when manager Martin Ling names his Torquay United side to face League Two mid-table rivals York City at Bootham Crescent this afternoon (3pm).

Ling must replace suspended captain Lee Mansell in midfield, he has first-choice goalkeeper Michael Poke fully fit again and there is also the small matter of trying to spark an attack that has scored only one goal in the last seven hours.

Ling has given little of his thinking away in the build-up to a match between two sides both in urgent need of a win.

"Anyone who is left out won't have any complaints because they didn't do the job against Southend," said Ling, referring to last weekend's 4-1 defeat to the Shrimpers at Plainmoor.

"It's the first time I've had to think about a team without Lee [Mansell] for quite a while, but the other people will have to make up for him. There's plenty of options, and one area I won't be losing any sleep over is central midfield."

Ling listed Craig Easton, Damon Lathrope and Nathan Craig, and also highlighted the possibility of recalling Danny Stevens on the wing.

"Danny has had a stop-start season with injuries so far," said Ling.

"He's fully-fit now, and I'm looking for him to push on.

"Any player playing wide should be looking to get ten goals in a season. Danny did that last year, so we know he has it in him."

Ling also has to decide between Poke and Martin Rice, who's played the last two matches, in goal.

"Southend wasn't just down to Martin, but let's say that there's more chance of Michael coming back in than there was after we drew 0-0 at Oxford.

"I'm just edging towards Poke at the moment."

Defender Brian Saah will captain the side in Mansell's absence.

York haven't won in six games, United in four.

Ling makes no secret of his concern, saying: "After a good October [12 points from 18], we've lost to Harrogate, Barnet, dug out a draw at Oxford, and then last Saturday against Southend – it is worrying, and a blip that's kicked us up the backside a bit."

The Minstermen, who ended an eight-year exile in the Conference by winning last season's play-off final against Luton Town at Wembley, are only a point behind the Gulls in a division which continues to puzzle.

Port Vale were the only team in the top-four to win in midweek, allowing the chasing pack to make up ground.

Neither York (15th) nor Torquay (13th) played on Tuesday night, so a win today will be a considerable boost with a game in hand to come.

By all accounts York impressed the locals when they drew 2-2 against in-form Port Vale in Burslem last Saturday, but they have won only twice in nine games in front of their own supporters.

United will need to start faster and better than of late to exploit any home nerves.

York will have former Lincoln midfielder Scott Kerr back after suspension – he was sent off in their recent FA Cup replay defeat at AFC Wimbledon – but manager Gary Mills has felt confident enough in his squad to allow players like Jonathan Smith, Lee Bullock, Tom Platt and former top-flight defender Clarke Carlisle out on loan.

Platt was in the Harrogate Town team which knocked United out of the FA Cup.

Torquay United (from): Poke or Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Lathrope, Easton, Craig, Bodin, Howe, Stevens, Jarvis, Cruise, Leadbitter, Thompson, MacDonald, Yeoman, McKenzie, Halpin, Baker, Artemi.

Unavailable: Mansell (suspended), Morris, Macklin (both injured).

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