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