Martin Ling fears injury to Downes or Saah as he scours loan market
A shortage of goals may be causing some concern for fans of the Gulls, but it is a worry about what may happen if injuries strike at the heart of his defence which continues to drive Torquay United manager Martin Ling’s loan transfer search.
United will tackle Southend United at Plainmoor on Saturday with in-form centre-back Aaron Downes one booking away from automatic suspension.
However, Ling said: “It’s not losing either Aaron or Brian Saah for one game that worries me, because young Kyrtis McKenzie has already proved that he can come in for the odd game or two.
“But the loan window closes next Thursday, and we’d be vulnerable for the next six weeks if Brian or Aaron was injured.
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“That’s a crucial period, with eight important games.”
The current loan window shuts at 5pm a week today and does not reopen until New Year’s Day, when the January transfer window begins.
Ling had hinted he might make a move into the loan market this week, but he has now put that on hold until after the Southend game.
Saah and Downes, who Ling signed from Chesterfield in the summer after the £75,000 sale of Mark Ellis to Crewe Alexandra, have proved a reliable combination.
“Along with [leading scorer] Rene Howe, I think and Brian and Aaron have been outstanding this season,” said the manger.
“I’ve not seen a better pair of centre-backs in this league.”
First-year professional McKenzie, 19, has already deputised for Downes once, and he underlined his promise in a 1-1 draw at Port Vale in September, when he emerged with credit from an afternoon mainly in opposition to Tom Pope, who is now npower League Two’s leading scorer. However, Ling does not want to put his young ex-scholar in a pressure situation where he has to play regularly, no matter how well or badly things might go for him and the team.
United will certainly be pleased to see Howe back this weekend.
The centre-forward has scored ten goals this season, served a one-match ban for last Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Oxford United and Ling admitted that he was “a big miss” at Kassam Stadium.
United have not hit the net since a Danny Stevens goal in the 30th minute beat Morecambe 1-0 four games ago.