DEVON DERBY COUNTDOWN: Torquay's Niall Thompson desperate to face Plymouth
Niall Thompson has been one of the finds of the season for Torquay United and with a Devon derby just around the corner, the gifted winger is desperate to be involved.
A spate of injuries – especially in the wide areas – has given the first-year professional his first-team chance and the Derby-born flyer, who turned 19 on Monday, has grabbed it with both hands.
He was named as the sponsors' man of the match in the 4-2 win over Rochdale with an eye-catching display, but with Plymouth Argyle arriving in the Bay this weekend, Thompson is desperate to be involved.
"I have been looking forward to Saturday's game ever since I became involved with the first team," Thompson said. "I have been thinking about it as it is a game I would really like to play in and hopefully I am selected.
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"If I am, then hopefully I can put in a performance like I did against Rochdale.
"I have played against them a few times for the youth team. We have won a few, they have won a few and a few were drawn, so it's quite even. The first team won twice against them last season, so hopefully we can make it three."
United are hoping to have Danny Stevens back in contention for Saturday's game, but with the diminutive winger having not kicked a ball in anger yet this season, the visit of Argyle may come too soon.
Fellow winger Lloyd Macklin is still some way off a first-team return, so the likelihood is that Thompson will get the nod from Martin Ling and add to his three first-team outings so far.
"It's brilliant. I didn't expect it so soon because I have just signed my first pro deal, so for me to make two appearances already – and play against Leicester in the [Capital One] Cup – is more than I could have asked for," he said.
"I have been working hard and I am very happy. I have been lucky with a few of the injuries that have happened, but I'd like to think I have taken my chances. It hasn't fazed me and I feel confident when I play.
"When I came back in the changing room after the Rochdale game, I was buzzing and ready to go again. I couldn't wait for the next game and that has been a huge confidence boost.
"The gaffer has shown great faith in me and has given me the freedom to perform."
United are yet to lose in League Two this season having drawn three and won one of their four games so far and they are determined to maintain their unbeaten record against the Pilgrims.
"It would be nice to win and stay unbeaten and put ourselves further ahead of them," Thompson added. "That is the target and hopefully we will still be unbeaten after Saturday.
"We don't really talk about it being a Devon derby as such. It is just another game to us. We take it game by game.
"I think you have to go into the game thinking that way. Obviously it has a big meaning to the fans, but we have to keep our heads and go out there and do a job like we do in any other game.
"We try and get the three points in every game, it doesn't matter if it is Plymouth, Exeter or anyone. It is all about the three points, whatever game it is."