Aaron Downes cannot wait to muck in and help Gulls climb the table
Aaron Downes cannot wait to return to fitness so he can help Torquay United to turn round a worrying slump which has seen the Gulls slip to 22nd place in League Two.
The Australian centre-back hopes to resume training on Monday, and that is only three weeks to the day since he had surgery to repair a damaged knee cartilage.
Not only is Downes, United's player of the year last season, pleased with his progress from that op, but he also reported that the injury is unrelated to the previous ligament problems that prompted his departure from Chesterfield 18 months ago.
"This injury has nothing to do with the history of my knee," said Downes, 28. "It's something new that could have happened to anyone any time.
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"In fact, the surgeon who trimmed my cartilage was more than happy with the state of my knee generally – he said everything else looks spot-on.
"Nobody likes having surgery, especially a pro footballer, but it was the best of bad news, if you like.
"I did have a couple of ops at Chesterfield, but the fact is that I still played nearly 70 games over the last two seasons, and that's not a bad record for anyone. I wasn't injured last year, apart from a hamstring pull which put me out for a game, and I hadn't missed a game this season until I did my cartilage in training.
"My knee is feeling good now, and with a bit of luck I should be fine for the rest of the season.
"I have started running again, with a view to resuming training next week, although I have to be careful not to push too hard too soon. But I can't wait to get fit again and help to get us back up the table."
Manager Alan Knill was a frustrated man again after Tuesday's 2-0 defeat at Burton Albion, which leaves United with only one point out of 15.
"I was pleased with our first half – it was a close game, but we were well in it and looked like we could catch them on the counter, which was part of the plan," said Knill, who gave a debut off the bench to new on-loan striker Paul McCallum.
"But once again we switched for a moment for their first goal, and we ended up conceding two poor goals in the space of ten minutes.
"Every game we seem to lose a centre-half for one reason or another, and we keep having to ask people to play out of position.
"Once we don't have to do that, we will be fine. And we definitely will be when we defend better for the whole game."
United were without suspended centre-back Krystian Pearce and the injured Downes at the Pirelli Stadium, but Pearce will be available again for Saturday's all-ticket visit of Portsmouth to Plainmoor.
Pompey have sold out their 1,500 allocation, and the Gulls this week turned down a request from Fratton Park for more tickets.