Knill challenges Cruise to keep hold of his Torquay first-team shirt
Torquay United manager Alan Knill has challenged Tom Cruise to retain his first-team place after coming into the side for last Saturday’s clash with Cheltenham Town.
Cruise played his part in a superb 4-2 League Two win for the Gulls after being picked ahead of long-term left-back Kevin Nicholson. But Knill wants the former Arsenal man to grasp his opportunity and enjoy a prolonged spell in the starting XI.
“He has been here a while and waiting for his chance,” said Knill. “He got in the side last year and then got sent off, and Kev came back in and did particularly well.
“We just made the decision to change it and it really was up to Cruisey to show he wants that shirt. If he performs like he did [against Cheltenham], he will keep it.
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“Every day in training, you see how much quality he has and you wonder why isn’t he playing. You’re not at Arsenal if you’re a poor player and Cruisey is really good technically.
“We’re trying to work with him defensively and aggressively because, if he can put it all together, there is a proper player in there. I spoke to him in the summer and he knows I’ll back him, if he performs for me every day.
“It’s not just on a Saturday, it’s every single day. We will all help him become the player we expect him to be.”
Cruise arrived at Plainmoor in June 2012 to challenge Nicholson for the left-back berth, but he has found United’s long-serving defender a hard man to shift. Last Saturday’s start was only his tenth in all competitions, although he has made another 12 appearances as a substitute.
But, at the age of 22, Cruise needs regular first-team football if he is to see his career kick on again after showing so much promise as a youngster when at Arsenal.
Meanwhile, the date for Torquay’s Under-21 Premier League Cup trip to Exeter City has been set for next Monday, September 30.
The game will be played at St James’ Park and kicks off at 7pm.
The winners of the game have been drawn away to Crystal Palace in round two and, to comply with competition rules, that game will be played at Selhurst Park.