Knill heartened by show of strength from experienced striker Hawley
Both Torquay United and striker Karl Hawley have already broken their seasonal ducks away from Plainmoor, but now they come home with high hopes of following up against Hartlepool United this afternoon.
The Gulls clinched their first win of the League Two season, 2-1 at Northampton Town last Saturday, a fortnight after summer signing Hawley, 31, scored his first goal for the club to earn a 1-1 draw at Morecambe.
Hawley did not score at Sixfields last weekend, although he did everything but in a livewire performance, and Knill is glad he worked so hard to sign the 31-year-old ex-Walsall, Carlisle United, Preston North End, Notts County and Scunthorpe United marksman, even if it took him until the final week of pre-season to finalise the deal to bring Hawley to Plainmoor.
"You look at his size and I wanted a bigger player than Karl, really, but, looking at the games now, you don't need that with him," said Knill.
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"He can play up front on his own. He's so strong that he holds people off. He's got a lot more to his game than just being a striker.
"He links the play really well, he's so focused and he really wants to score goals."
Knill believes that Hawley's know-how is also a major plus. He's 31, and I can see why he's been playing as well as he has been and clubs have still wanted him," said the Torquay manager.
"Experienced players can come in, do well themselves, but also give their experience to younger players.
"Karl is quite happy to pull young Callum Ball to one side and talk about his game."
As for today's task against Hartlepool, Knill said: "Your home form can carry you through the season, but winning at home is probably the more difficult thing.
"The expectation is for teams to win in front of their own supporters, but visiting sides are often set up to play on the counter and the trend in League One and Two in recent years has been for teams to win a lot of games away from home. It's the good teams who win home and away."
Hartlepool have one point and no goals from their first four games, but Knill stressed: "League One was a tough league with a lot of big teams in it last year.
"I saw Hartlepool play and I thought they were OK. They've been unlucky in several games this season, so we are preparing for Hartlepool to be at their best."
Knill already knows about his only absentee – goalkeeper Michael Poke finally hopes to return for good in another ten days after a drawn-out thigh tear injury.
The Gulls' boss does not expect to pull off any late transfer moves before the summer 'window' closes after the weekend.
"We're OK – our squad is full and we are right at the top of our budget," he said.
"But we are always looking, I like loan players and the loan market opens next week, so you never know."
Hartlepool may have made a slow start after their relegation last season, but manager Colin Cooper has several interesting older players leading a basically youthful team.
The more senior citizens include goalkeeper Scott Flinders, defenders Neil Austin and Sam Collins, ex-Leeds, Charlton, Queen's Park Rangers and Plymouth Argyle midfielder Simon Walton, even though he is hardly a veteran, and 37-year-old old-school centre-forward Steve Howard.
Howard can point to more than 200 goals in a League career which has taken in big-money moves to Northampton Town, Luton Town, Derby County and Leicester City before returning to his roots.
However, United may also need to keep tabs on a forward who could have been one of their own.
Left-winger Jack Compton, 24, the son of former Plainmoor player, youth coach and manager Paul Compton, grew up in Torquay, and had a trial with the Gulls under Paul Buckle five years ago.
However, Compton actually did his learning at West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth, and is now in good form at Hartlepool after spells with Falkirk, Bradford City and Colchester United last season.
Torquay United (from): Rice, C Thompson; Tonge, Pearce, Downes, Nicholson, Chapell, Mansell, Harding, Cameron, Hawley, Ball, Bodin, Benyon, Lathrope, Cruise, N Thompson, Sullivan, Craig, McKenzie, Yeoman, Hutchings.
Unavailable: Poke (thigh).