Knill counts the hours but hopes not the cost of Downes absence
Torquay United will know the full implication of Aaron Downes’ knee injury after the popular defender undergoes surgery early next week.
Manager Alan Knill has already signed Blackburn Rovers’ Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Anthony O’Connor on an initial month’s loan to cover for Downes’ absence, but he reported: “Aaron is due to have an operation on Monday, and we’ll know more after that.
“It could be straightforward, and he could be out for about four weeks, or it could be longer. It would be wrong to speculate more at this stage.”
The former Chesterfield stalwart was hurt during a training session last Thursday, and he missed the 2-1 League Two defeat at Newport County two days later, when Knill had to switch full-back Tom Cruise inside in a reshuffled defence.
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Downes, 28, has had knee trouble in the past, but he had a virtually injury-free season in 2012-13, during which the central defender won United fans’ player of the year award.
O’Connor, who spent the whole of last season on loan at Burton Albion, is expected to go straight into the starting line-up for this Saturday’s home game against York City.
Another recent loan signing, Charlton Athletic striker Ade Azeez, who scored on his debut as a substitute at Newport, is also in contention for a place.
Of O’Connor, 20, Knill said: “We’ve watched him many times and know him well – he played right through last season with a successful Burton side which got to the play-offs.
“He played mainly at right-back there, but he really believes that he’s a centre-half, where’s he’s also played a lot, so it was a good shout for us.”
Another centre-half, Jack Deaman, was given a lengthy chance to earn a place within the Gulls’ ranks, but his extended trial at Plainmoor has ended in failure.
Knill has decided not to give the former Birmingham City defender a contract, but said: “It was a difficult decision.
“Jack tried hard to get a deal, he had to overcome an injury along the way, and he was a pleasure to work with. We wish him all the best.”
Torquay winger Niall Thompson made a goalscoring debut for Worcester City in their 4-0 FA Cup win over Coventry Sphinx last Saturday.
Thompson joined the Conference North club on an initial month’s loan, and United agreed to allow him to play in the FA Cup. City have been drawn at home to Rugby Town in the third qualifying round on October 12.
Former Torquay manager Martin Ling is helping Walsall boss Dean Smith, an old friend, with scouting and match-reporting duties.
It seems to be working – the Saddlers are ninth in League One, unbeaten in four games and halted leaders Leyton Orient’s 100 per cent start last Saturday.