Sickness bug forces Martin Ling to delay Torquay United team selection
A sickness bug which has swept through Torquay United's dressing room has forced manager Martin Ling to delay his selection for the Gulls' Johnstone's Paint Trophy second-round tie against Yeovil Town at Plainmoor tonight (7.45pm).
Ling had refused to use the problem as an excuse after the Gulls' below-par 2-1 npower League Two defeat at Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend, but the fact is that several players and staff were suffering before, during and, as events have turned out, since the loss at Adams Park.
"We've got a sickness and diarrhoea bug within the squad," revealed Ling ahead of tonight's game.
"It didn't help at the weekend – Lloyd Macklin was first to go down last week, then George Artemi, and [goalkeeping coach] Kenny Veysey, Lee Mansell and Kevin Nicholson and Karl Baker were all under the weather at the weekend.
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"Now Joe Oastler has gone down with it. Anybody who's got any symptoms, we're sending them straight home from the training ground.
"We just need to know if there's anyone else going down before we're able to make firm decisions on the Yeovil game.
"It does seem to go within a few days, so we'll have to hold a headcount on Tuesday."
The rules of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy – United enjoyed a 'bye' in the first round – are designed to stop clubs fielding 'reserve' teams, especially in the early rounds.
Managers must play a minimum of six players from either the previous or the next starting XI, or six of the most regular starters of the season so far. There are only five substitutes, instead of seven for League games.
"It's a competition that we take seriously," stressed Ling. "Saturday's performance will make no difference to the team I pick. But several of the people who were on the bench on Saturday will have an opportunity to show what I might have missed by not starting them."
One player eager for a recall is midfielder Damon Lathrope, who was a non-playing substitute at Wycombe after a seven-week absence with a knee injury.
Craig Easton is doubtful with his hamstring strain, but winger Saul Halpin may see some action after a long-term ankle problem.
United fans will be intrigued to see whether Ling plays leading scorer Rene Howe.
Howe's first-half equaliser at Wycombe was his eighth goal in the first 11 games of the season. It was also his fifth goal in successive matches, only two short of the club record.
League One side Yeovil come to Plainmoor after halting a worrying six-match losing run with Saturday's 3-1 home win over Colchester United.
Manager Gary Johnson may be considering a start from former Torquay loan forward Reuben Reid, who was on the bench at the weekend.
Plainmoor admission prices have been cut to £10 for adults and £5 for under-16s.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Mansell, Craig, Macklin, Howe, Jarvis, Bodin, Stevens, Thompson, Leadbitter, Lathrope, Cruise, Yeoman, McKenzie, Baker, Artemi, Halpin.
Doubtful: Easton (hamstring), Oastler (illness).
Unavailable: Morris (Achilles tendon).