Martin Ling makes no promise on Torquay United skipper Lee Mansell's return
A positive result at Bradford City tomorrow would leave Torquay United unbeaten in three games without their suspended captain Lee Mansell, but manager Martin Ling refuses to be drawn on whether he will recall his long-serving and popular midfielder in those circumstances.
Mansell was sent off in the 4-1 home defeat to Southend United on November 17, a straight red card earning him a three-match suspension.
United have since won 2-0 at York City and beat Dagenham & Redbridge 2-1 at Plainmoor, and they will travel to Valley Parade aiming to force their way back into the League Two play-off zone.
Mansell's absence was also one of the reasons why Ling changed United's midfield formation at York, playing Craig Easton and Nathan Craig behind an attacking trio of Billy Bodin, Ryan Jarvis and Danny Stevens, with leading scorer Rene Howe up front.
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"When Lee went out, we said we would need people to make up for him, and that's happened in the last two games," said Ling.
"It's nearly two weeks before he's available again.
"An awful lot can happen on results and injuries before then, so we'll worry about that when it comes round."
Mansell, 30, has thrown himself into a mid-season "mini pre-season" fitness drive, with next Saturday's visit of Northampton Town to Plainmoor as his first available return date.
Meanwhile, Ling has expressed his relief that United eventually beat Penisula League side Liverton United in the St Luke's Devon Bowl this week.
The Gulls' reserves had to come from behind to draw 2-2, and then won 3-0 on penalties, clinching a quarter-final trip to nearby Buckland Athletic, the club which has knocked them out in each of the last two seasons.
"It was an awful night on an awful pitch, so I'm pleased that we're through," said Ling.
"We've had three development games called off recently, and I think several of the players showed that they were short of match-practice.
"It was never our intention to play reserve games in December, but we do need games in the New Year and the Buckland tie will help with that.
"I thought the best player on the pitch the other night was [left-back] Tom Cruise.
"When you think of him playing at Coach Road against Liverton when he's played Champions League football for Arsenal, but his attitude was spot on.
"In fact, I thought all the players showed a good attitude."