Torquay United skipper Lee Mansell remains adamant he can return to goal-scoring form
Lee Mansell remains confident that the goals will come when Torquay United's new-look midfield moves into top gear.
The Gulls' long-serving skipper, who scored 13 goals from midfield last season on his way to winning Plainmoor's player of the year award for the second time, has yet to hit the net after eight games this time.
Yesterday he insisted: "It will happen, maybe not with the number of goals I scored last season, but I definitely hope to get six or seven – that's the sort of number you should always hope for from midfield.
"I'm too long in the tooth to get all het up about it. Things just seemed to fall for me last season – Eunan O'Kane created a lot of chances for me and I probably had a bit more freedom to get into the box.
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"In fairness, so far I haven't had that bit of luck that I seemed to get last year. Plymouth at home was a good example of that – how Robbie Williams blocked from me in the first half I'll never know. It would probably have gone in last season."
Mansell, 30 last weekend, stressed: "We've got a completely new midfield, and we're still getting used to each other. Eunan has gone, Damon Lathrope has been injured, and I've had Ian Morris, Craig Easton or Nathan Craig alongside me this season.
"It's meant my role has been a bit different to last season, and we haven't quite clicked on a consistent basis yet. But we've still lost only once in eight games, and it will come," he concluded.
Manager Martin Ling added: "If anyone expected Lee to do the same as he did last year, they were probably deluding themselves. Sure, he had a bit of luck from time to time, but last season may have been a bit of a one-off – I'd be hoping for seven or eight goals off him this season.
"He's still working hard in training and matches, and practising his finishing as he always has. He probably just needs a break to get him going."
Ling is hoping that Lathrope will return to training in the next ten days – he has been out for six weeks with a knee injury complicated by a small bone crack in the joint. Craig, who limped off with an ankle problem in last Saturday's 1-1 home draw with Burton Albion, will be available for tomorrow's npower League Two game at Chesterfield, however.
Waiting in the wings is local midfielder Karl Baker, who was working night shifts at a Totnes bakery only a couple of months ago.
The 23-year-old has stepped out of Carlsberg South West Peninsula League football with Stoke Gabriel and is trying to turn a four-month contract into a longer-term deal at Plainmoor.
"I've got until January to try and get a longer deal, but I don't regret having a go one bit," said Baker, 23.
"I'm loving the lifestyle – I'm the fittest I've ever been in my life and I feel much fresher every morning. Now I'm here, I want to do the best I can to get into the pro game."
Ling explained: "I wouldn't have taken Karl if I didn't think he had a chance of making it. But I also think that it sends out a message to players in the area that we will look at the best ones.
"I don't think the club has signed too many local lads in the last few years, but we're always on the look-out."