Torquay United boss aiming to sign a striker
TORQUAY UNITED manager Martin Ling is poised to extend Reading centre-back Angus MacDonald's loan until the end of the season AND sign a new forward during the January transfer window.
The Gulls' board has given Ling the go-ahead to add two players to his injury-hit squad.
MacDonald's initial loan runs out this Sunday – United have no match this weekend – but talks are well advanced with the Royals for the 20-year-old defender to remain at Plainmoor for the rest of the campaign.
Ling is also chasing a forward, but he stressed that he doesn't want to sign another player in the style of ex-scholar Ashley Yeoman, who made a lively first senior start in the 2-3 New Year's Day home defeat against bottom club AFC Wimbledon.
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"I don't want to fetch someone in in place of Ashley Yeoman," said Ling.
"Even though we lost the game (against Wimbledon), I didn't think Ash was part of the problem. He was as good as anyone, especially in the first half.
"He's waited a couple of years to get his chance, and he's shown that he could be a serious player for us.
"He's still young, with lots to learn, but I want to give Ash a crack at it.
"We also have Billy Bodin and Ryan Jarvis hopefully on the way back from injuries.
"But what we don't have is anyone else who can play in Rene Howe's (targetman) position, and that's what I'm looking for.
"It's good that he got his eleventh goal this week, but Rene is also on eight bookings now and he's having to play all of every game for us at the moment.
"As well as Gus (MacDonald) staying, there's a bit of money in the budget for a forward, but he must be the right type."
Ling is aware that United supporters expect action – the club is down to 15th place in League Two after four games without a win.
But he said: "Let's get real – we've got money to get a loan player or two in, not spend £100,000 in the market."
In the wake of Tuesday's defeat, in which Wimbledon scored their winner in stoppage-time after Howe's equaliser in the 90th minute, Ling dismissed suggestions that lack of fitness might be the cause of United conceding so many late goals recently.
"That's rubbish," said Ling.
"Of course it's a mental thing.
"We've done exactly the same this year as last, in training and match preparation, and we didn't concede last-minute goals last year.
"We are not in a relegation scrap, but we have chucked away points this year, where we didn't last year.
"Also, our results against lower-placed teams have been poor this season. And that's a mental thing too, especially for some players at this level."
United have beaten leaders Gillingham and taken points off most of League Two's top-half teams, but they have now lost to four of the bottom-six clubs and drawn twice with local rivals Plymouth Argyle (21st).
The Pilgrims sacked manager Carl Fletcher after Tuesday's 2-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers.
Ling admitted that United didn't do enough to stop Wimbledon's first two goals, and he added: "We didn't really open them up enough."
United don't play again until Saturday week (Jan 12) when they travel to Burton Albion, followed by the rearranged Devon derby at home to Exeter City on Tuesday, January 15 (8pm).
"It gives us a bit of breathing space," said Ling.
Bodin is due to have a scan on his ankle injury in the next few days and Jarvis, who cracked a rib and punctured a lung three weeks ago, is already feeling better and may be able to resume light training next week.