Torquay United need Rene Howe to avoid trouble
HE MAY BE close to signing another striker before Saturday's crucial home game against York City, but Torquay United manager Alan Knill has also urged the Gulls' leading scorer Rene Howe to turn his back on trouble and stay on the pitch for the last seven games of the season.
Howe scored his 16th goal of the campaign in Tuesday night's key 2-1 win over Chesterfield at Plainmoor, but the powerful targetman also picked up his 13th booking of the season in the 1-1 draw at Southend last weekend.
Two more cautions will earn Howe a three-match ban which could hit United's survival hopes hard.
"The message to Rene is – 'Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Don't let the frustration get to you, just concentrate on the football'," said Knill.
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"It is a concern, that Rene might get himself suspended.
"I thought he was booked for a genuine attempt to get the ball against Oxford the other day, but at Southend frustration overtook him.
"He didn't need to get involved the way he did (kicking the ball away), and the referee had no choice.
"There is a reputation which goes before, and the opposition know that and they try to play on it.
"But Rene did calm down in the second half, was more focused on the ball, and when he does that, he's an excellent player.
"I also thought he worked really hard against Chesterfield, and he showed what a big player he is for us.
"You have to be aggressive, especially in his position, but it's what happens after that that often gets him into trouble."
The loan transfer window closes next Thursday evening, but Knill hopes to sign a young striker, reportedly from a Premier League club, well before then and possibly before United take on York this weekend.
"We've got great deals from Notts County and Sheffield United for Joss Labadie and Jordan Chapell, and we're so thankful to them," said Knill.
"We are trying our best to get more players in."
The Gulls will again be without winger Billy Bodin, who plays for Wales Under-21 against Moldova at Llanelli tomorrow night.
But they will have central defender Aaron Downes back from a two-match suspension.
The Chesterfield result ended United's eleven-match winless run and hauled them up to 19th place, prompting Knill to say: "It's a fantastic three points, and that's three unbeaten now.
"The second half wasn't pretty, but we had those three points and never let them go."
Labadie and Howe scored in the first eight minutes, with Knill commenting: "Joss is supposed to be our sitting midfield player, but he's got three goals now.
"I'm not sure Rene knew too much about his goal, but good for him.
"I hate 2-0 scorelines, because you know that one goal bring the opposition back into it.
"At half-time we asked 'Can we go out and win the second half now?' We didn't quite do that, but we came through in the end.
"The two performances at Dagenham (2-2) and Southend (1-1) have really caused this, because we went into this game really believing we could win.
"It has taken us a bit of time, but if you are in a dogfight, you have to fight first, and we're doing that.
"We are committed to staying in this league. The prize is massive.
"In our team are league players, they want to stay league players and we are going the right way about it."
Chesterfield manager Paul Cook, who saw his team slip eight points adrift of the Play-Offs, said: "We knew Torquay would be fighting for their lives, but unfortunately we did not start the game in any shape or form.
"We were second-best for long periods.
"We gave Torquay something to hang on to and something to fight for.
"If you don't start well, you get punished, no matter who you are playing."