THE future of Torquay United manager Martin Ling appears to be in some doubt after the popular Gulls boss' absence through illness moved into a third week.
United reluctantly involved Ling's union, the League Managers' Association, in the wake of Tuesday's 3-1 home defeat by Rotherham United.
For it has become clear that Former Leyton Orient and Cambridge United manager Ling, 46, is unlikely to be well enough to resume his duties at Plainmoor in the near future.
United say they are already looking for an experienced man to help assistant manager Shaun Taylor.
A club statement said that Ling is being treated for 'a debilitating illness'.
"He is receiving specialist care and, while we are able to report that he is making some progress, it is anticipated that Martin will be away from work for several weeks," said the statement.
It added that United ask for the privacy of Ling's family to be respected.
"The club and the League Managers' Association are both fully supportive and are looking forward to his return," it said. Ling is still convalescing at his family home in Waltham Forest, North London, after falling ill with a suspected viral condition on the day of United's 1-0 win over his old club Exeter City on Monday, January 28.
Assistant Taylor led the Gulls that night, but United have suffered three successive defeats since then. Tuesday's loss to Steve Evans' Millers was watched by Plainmoor's lowest gate of the season (1,778), and it dropped them to 18th place in League Two.
Ling's illness has caused real concern at Plainmoor, where few members of staff have been able to speak to him.
United have been well aware of the vacuum of information available, but they have been reluctant to pressure his family or speculate without accurate information.