Tics young generation showing mettle during pre-season work
TORQUAY Athletic's next generation of players are pressing their claims at pre-season training as the countdown to the new season starts.
Last year's colts team graduates have been absorbed into the senior squad – and the coaching team couldn't be happier at the increased competition for places.
"It is really heartening to see so many quality colts coming through the system here," said head coach Chris Dorling.
"The skill level and commitment these young lads are showing is a credit to the coaching staff all the way through our youth section, because some of these guys are ready-made first team players, and many more will be pushing for a place in the top teams.
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"It means that a lot of last year's established players are looking over their shoulders a bit during training.
The likes of James Ashford-Rust, Shane Wakeham and Ryan Widdecombe among many others are working noticeably hard, so it's to their credit everyone is really responding to the competition for places these youngsters are bringing.
"It is throwing up some slightly unexpected, but welcome questions, in terms of the make-up of the senior squad."
The colts had a pretty good season with one or two players really shining through.
"It was one of those seasons where the defeats had nothing to do with lack of skill or preparation, but as a team we just lost our way in critical parts of some games," said former coach John Jones.
"I always think if three or four of any colts side progress straight into the top teams on a yearly basis it is the sign of a club in good health.
"Seeing almost all of the colts from last year step up to training with the big boys without being phased or overawed is great to see.
"Having the occasional training session with the seniors throughout the year has had a part to play in this, but I am very proud to see them doing so well."
Pre-season training continues at the Recreation Ground on Tuesday and Thursday nights, leading into testing pre-season fixture list for the senior side.
"Games against Withycombe, Chard and Newton Abbot should give us the tests we need before starting our league fixtures," said new 1st XV manager Matt McCann.
"Each side has been chosen because of different challenges they offer as sides. To finish up playing Newton Abbot, who are obviously very strong, will give us an excellent indicator of where we are as a squad, and hopefully what we are capable of achieving this coming season."
Torquay were promotion play-off losers in the Western Counites Division last season and have been working on squad strengthening since.
Dorling hopes to announce additions to the squad in a couple of key positions shortly.
"It is tempting to bring in as many players as possible to try and speed the club's rise through the ranks, but we have all seen many times the potential folly of that," said Dorling.
"Those clubs almost inevitably come crashing down eventually, usually further down the ladder than they started.
"I want this club to be successful of course, but I want us to build in a measured and sustainable manner.
"This club has shown with its current playing squad it is strong, make no mistake about that, and we are aiming to continue growing in strength for many years to come."