Loan ranger Michael Poke looks forward to joining Torquay United full time
AFTER three successful loan spells at Torquay United, Michael Poke has said that he cannot wait to become the Gulls’ full-time goalkeeper for the first time.
The former Southampton and Brighton player, 26, has agreed a two-year deal at Plainmoor, which he is due to sign after a medical examination when he travels back to the English Riviera next week.
“When my agent rang me, just after Bobby Olejnik went to Peterborough, and said that Torquay might be interested, I knew immediately that I wanted to go,” said Poke.
“It was a no-brainer for me. I always enjoyed playing for Torquay before, I love the club, and I still know quite a lot of people there.
“It has been a bit frustrating playing in the reserves for Brighton for the last couple of years. First-team football is what you’re in the game for, and I’m desperate to do that regularly.”
The memories of previous spells at Torquay are still fresh for Poke. “Winning promotion at Wembley to get back into the League [in 2009], is something I’ll never forget,” he said. “The following season I went back on loan when Torquay were in a bit of a dogfight against relegation, but I still enjoyed that and we came through it.”
In all, Poke has made 49 appearances for the Gulls, two less than predecessor Olejnik made during his outstanding 2011-2012 campaign.
Poke also played nine times during a two-month loan at Bristol Rovers last season. “There was a bit of pressure there at the time, especially as [manager] Paul Buckle left the day after I joined them,” he said. “But we pulled up the table, and I think I did OK.
“I’m looking forward to playing more pressure games at Torquay, and it will feel even better being there permanently this time.”
Torquay manager Martin Ling said: “I tried to sign him last summer. Brighton didn’t want Michael to leave then, but he is an ideal replacement for Bobby Olejnik.
“I’ve watched Michael play a few times, although Torquay fans will probably know him better than I do. We know he is a quality goalkeeper from his last time here.”
Meanwhile, it looks as if highly-rated midfielder Eunan O’Kane will be staying at Torquay after all. The 21-year-old UIsterman has turned down a proposed £175,000 move to Crawley Town.
New Crawley manager Sean O’Driscoll had triggered the release clause in O’Kane’s Plainmoor contract by offering the Gulls’ asking price, but negotiations between the Sussex club and the player dragged on and broke down when personal terms could not be agreed.
O’Kane made his decision yesterday, and the odds on him leaving Plainmoor this summer are lengthening. Another club would have to come up with £175,000 before O’Kane can talk to them, and he is under contract to the Gulls for another two years.
Goalkeeper Michael Poke is joining Torquay United on a full contract after two loan spells during which he clocked up 49 appearances for the Gulls.