Joss Labadie knows what is needed to help Torquay United out of relegation trouble
Torquay United's new signing Joss Labadie knows exactly what to expect and he is up for the job of trying to haul the Gulls out of npower League Two relegation trouble, starting against Oxford United at Plainmoor today.
The 22-year-old Notts County midfielder is expected to make his full debut against the U's after joining on loan to the end of the season.
"I've been in this position before, when I was at Cheltenham and Tranmere earlier in my career," said Labadie.
"I know what's required, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
The South Londoner had no hesitation in answering United manager Alan Knill's call this week.
"Although I didn't know him, I've played against his teams a few times, and I've got friends in the game who have played for him," said Labadie, who started his career at West Bromwich Albion.
"They've got nothing but good to say about him
"I've made a good few appearances, but only seven starts in the league this season, and I need to be starting regularly.
"I think I'm quite combative, but I like to mix it up. I try and get on the ball, and have shots whenever possible."
While he was at West Brom, Labadie had loan spells at Shrewsbury Town, Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers, before a permanent move to Birkenhead in 2010. He joined Notts County last summer.
Knill will run a final fitness check on Aaron Downes to make sure that United's Australian centre-back is ready to step back into the defence after a two-week hamstring strain injury, but he is unlikely to look for too many other changes.
United ended their seven-match losing streak with a 0-0 draw at fellow strugglers Accrington Stanley last Saturday, and Knill says: "Now we can hopefully build off that. Football can change so quickly, and to get three points at home would give our supporters something to cheer about.
"When I brought a team to Torquay in the past, it was always a tough game, and we want to make it as difficult as possible for people to come here from now on.
"You find that, once you do win, it can have a steamroller effect, and that's what we're looking for."
Knill added: "The players went boxing training on Tuesday afternoon, and we're trying to bring the squad really close together.
"It's about looking after each other, and taking that from training and on to the pitch on match-day. The fact that you lose seven games [on the trot] usually means that there's something drastically wrong. There wasn't.
"Before that, the team was doing reasonably well and, hopefully, we are getting back to being competitive again."
Of Oxford (12th), Knill said after watching the U's lose 4-0 at home to Rotherham this midweek: "Chris Wilder is a good friend of mine, and I felt for him as I was watching the game.
"Oxford were really good for 20 minutes, then conceded a goal, and another very quickly, and suddenly had a bad 25 minutes.
"Chris' team had gone from playing so well to being 4-0 down at half-time. But when you look at the team and their squad, he's got some decent players."
United midfielder Craig Easton is sidelined by a calf strain, and the squad is reduced by loans which have taken wingers Saul Halpin and Karl Baker to Bideford and central defender Kyrtis McKenzie to Taunton Town.
Wilder has been opting to start without his two top scorers, James Constable and Tom Craddock, and in the space of a problematic 90 minutes against Rotherham he tried several different formations in an effort to repair the first-half damage.
Oxford slipped nine points adrift of the play-offs zone this week, but they did beat leaders Gillingham away and Port Vale at home before the Rotherham defeat, underlining an inconsistency which has held them back all season.
Other key games today, from Torquay's point of view, include bottom club AFC Wimbledon at home to York (18th), Plymouth Argyle (23rd) away to Gillingham, Accrington Stanley away to Northampton, Barnet at home to Morecambe and Aldershot away to Bradford City.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, MacDonald, Nicholson, Labadie, Mansell, Lathrope, Jarvis, Benyon, Howe, Bodin, Leadbitter, Craig, Stevens, Cruise, Macklin, Morris, N Thompson, Yeoman.
Unavailable: Easton (calf), Halpin, Baker, McKenzie (all loaned out).