Martin Ling seeking to reinforce Torquay United's slender squad
Manager Martin Ling says he doesn't want a January forward signing to hold back the progress of Torquay United's home-grown youngster Ashley Yeoman.
Ling singled out 20-year-old Yeoman for praise after he made his first senior start in the hugely disappointing 3-2 home defeat by League Two's bottom club AFC Wimbledon on New Year's Day.
Now, with the Plainmoor board freeing up funds for a couple of deals in the mid-season transfer window, the Gulls' boss is planning to extend Reading centre-back Angus MacDonald's loan until the end of the season and he wants to strengthen his attacking roster.
But Ling stressed: "I don't want to fetch someone in in place of Ashley Yeoman.
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"Even though we lost on Tuesday, Ash wasn't part of the problem.
"He's still young, with lots to learn, but he's been waiting a couple of years to get a chance, and he's shown that he could be a serious player for us.
"We're also hoping to have Billy Bodin and Ryan Jarvis back [from injury] in the next few weeks.
"But what we don't really have is someone else to play in Rene Howe's [targetman] position, and that's what I'm looking for.
"It was good that Rene got his 11th goal of the season [against Wimbledon], but he is on eight bookings now and he is also having to play every minute of every game at the moment."
Ling had a warning for Torquay fans expecting major transfer activity when he said after the Wimbledon defeat: "Let's get real – we've got money in the budget to get a loan player or two in, not spend £100,000 in the market.
"There's a bit of money for a forward, but he must be the right type."
MacDonald's loan from Reading expires this Sunday, but talks are ongoing over an extension.
And the fact that United have no game this weekend – they don't play again until they travel to Burton Albion on Saturday week – gives them what Ling describes as 'a bit of breathing space'.
Bodin is due to have a scan on his ankle injury in the next few days, while Jarvis, who cracked a rib and punctured a lung nearly three weeks ago, is recovering and could resume light training next week.
In the wake of Tuesday's defeat, in which Wimbledon scored their winner in stoppage-time after Howe's equaliser in the 90th minute, Ling quickly dismissed any suggestion that lack of fitness might be the cause of United conceding so many late goals recently.
"That's rubbish," said Ling. "Of course it's a mental thing.
"We've done exactly the same this year as last, in training and match preparation, and we didn't concede last-minute goals last year.
"We are not in a relegation scrap, but we have chucked away points this year, where we didn't last year.
"Also, our results against lower-placed teams have been poor this season. And that's a mental thing too, especially for some players at this level."