Six­teen-year-old striker Koszela mak­ing case for first-team chance

TORQUAY UNITED

Herald Express - - Sport - BY DAVID THOMAS

United de­fender Jean-Yves Koue Ni­ate cel­e­brates his goal against Bil­ler­icay in the 2-2 draw on Satur­day

MAN­AGER Gary John­son says he will have no hes­i­ta­tion in­clud­ing 16-year-old Olaf Koszela in Torquay United’s first-team squad again af­ter he named the Torquay Acad­emy striker on the subs’ bench for the first time.

The Gulls’ boss also says that Koszela, who has scored 29 goals al­ready this sea­son, is not the only mem­ber of United’s youth team who has the po­ten­tial to play for the se­nior side.

Young goal ace Koszela has spear­headed United’s run to the Sec­ond Round of the FA Youth Cup this sea­son and, although he did not see ac­tion in Satur­day’s 2-2 draw against Na­tional League South lead­ers Bil­ler­icay Town at Plain­moor, he would have been the fifth youngest player ever to have ap­peared in a com­pet­i­tive Torquay match if John­son had sent him on.

Koszela – he and de­fender Josh Bax­ter have pro con­tracts wait­ing for them at Plain­moor when they turn 17 next year – has al­ready played in a pre-sea­son game against Ply­mouth Argyle.

The Gulls were weak­ened by in­juries against Bil­ler­icay, but John­son stressed: “Pick­ing Olaf was def­i­nitely more than a num­bers is­sue.

“He had been do­ing very well in the youth team, scor­ing goals.

“He and other lads from that side train with the first team at least once a week – and we’ve had Olaf train­ing with us al­most full-time and fit­ting his stud­ies around that.

“We put him on the bench be­cause of what he’s shown us and be­cause it is go­ing to give him great ex­pe­ri­ence at 16 years of age.

“It was also a ‘Well Done’ to Torquay Acad­emy and the other play­ers for their suc­cess in the FA Youth Cup.

“It was an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the achieve­ment of them and

Olaf Koszela the staff, and it shows ev­ery­one that there is a link through to us at first-team level.

“Ev­ery time they come into train­ing with us, we can see that these lads are de­cent, and we feel there is a good op­por­tu­nity for some to come through to se­nior foot­ball here.”

Af­ter four pre­vi­ous vic­to­ries, the United star­lets will travel to Maiden­head Town in the Sec­ond Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup on Mon­day night.

That’s in be­tween the Gulls’ next two matches – an FA Cup First-Round tie against Wok­ing on Satur­day (3pm) and a re­ar­ranged Na­tional League South match against St Al­bans City next Tues­day, both at Plain­moor.

With £36,000 at stake against Wok­ing – the teams drew 2-2 in the league here in Septem­ber – United will take their Cup earn­ings this sea­son to £85,000 if they beat the Cards.

Mean­while, Truro City have an­nounced their in­ten­tion to end the cur­rent ground­share deal at Plain­moor and re­turn to their old Treyew Road ground – it could hap­pen within a month or cer­tainly by Christ­mas, says chair­man Peter Mas­ters.

Full story – Page 66.

Sean Her­non/PPAUK

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