Angus MacDonald given four-month trial in bid to win Torquay United contract
The extension of Angus MacDonald's loan to Torquay United from Reading could lead to a full-time deal for the 20-year-old centre-half.
MacDonald, who has started United's last three matches in the absence of the suspended Brian Saah, will be staying at Plainmoor until the end of the season.
Torquay manager Martin Ling said: "It's a four-month trial, in effect.
"In all the last three games, Gus has stood up to the demands of League Two football well, and he will be a valuable part of the squad between now and the end of the season.
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"He has been with us once before and now he's got to prove that he deserves a longer contract next year."
Former England Under-16 and Under-19 centre-half MacDonald, whose current deal at Reading expires next summer, has already said that he wants to stay at Torquay and fight for a first-team place.
He now has to content with the availability of Saah, who will be back in contention for this Saturday's trip to Burton Albion after a ban that went all the way back to his dismissal at Bradford City on December 8.
"It's the longest three-game suspension I've ever known," said Ling. "It's like having a player back after a long-term injury.
"You always miss a player of Brian's quality, and that doesn't take anything away from the way Angus has played.
"Brian and Aaron Downes had a good partnership going before Bradford.
"We've got the most fixtures  in the division left now, because we've had games postponed for one reason or another. The more players available, the better."
As well as MacDonald, Ling is looking to sign a forward during the January transfer window.
The one outstanding fixture that needed to be rearranged – Aldershot Town away – has now been set. It will be played on Tuesday, February 19, at the Recreation Ground (7.45pm).
Saah's return is a boost, and there are more encouraging noises from the medical room.
Forward Ryan Jarvis has started cycling, as he recovers from a cracked rib and punctured lung, while other long-term casualties Ian Morris (Achilles tendon) and Lloyd Macklin (broken metatarsal) are hoping for go-aheads this week to step up their rehabilitation work.
If a scan on Billy Bodin's ankle later today is clear, he could be available for the Burton match. Right-back Joe Oastler is under treatment for ankle trouble, while skipper Lee Mansell resumed training yesterday.