John­son’s squad bol­stered by re­turn of in­jured play­ers for Dul­wich trip

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Sport - BY DAVID THOMAS

With In­jured play­ers re­turn­ing to fit­ness, man­ager Gary John­son says he has sev­eral se­lec­tion de­ci­sions to make be­fore Torquay United take on Dul­wich Ham­let in South Lon­don to­day – and top of the list will be who to pick in goal.

Shaun MacDon­ald has won plenty of ad­mir­ers dur­ing a ten-game ab­sence for Portsmouth loa­nee Alex Bass, af­ter both of them were signed dur­ing the sum­mer by for­mer Gulls boss Gary Ow­ers.

Ow­ers made it pretty clear that Bass, 20, was his No 1, re­call­ing him over exGateshead and Blyth Spar­tans player MacDon­ald, 22, af­ter a groin in­jury at the start of the sea­son.

The highly-rated Bass, who made his EFL de­but for Pom­pey at the end of last sea­son, has looked equally as im­pres­sive dur­ing his seven ap­pear­ances so far, while MacDon­ald has done lit­tle wrong in his 15 games.

They are even friends off the pitch, shar­ing a flat with team- mates Jean-Yves Koue Ni­ate and Kyle Cameron.

John­son is giv­ing lit­tle away, but he did say in the build-up to to­day’s match: “Shaun has done very well, he’s got some good ex­pe­ri­ence and we know we can trust him to be our goal­keeper.”

If ei­ther of them ends up on the bench, it will mean no place for reg­u­lar and en­thu­si­as­tic sub Ge­orge Bur­ton, who is a promis­ing young keeper in his own right.

United have also wel­comed ex­pe­ri­enced mid­field­ers Asa Hall and Ryan Dick­son back into the squad af­ter knee and con­cus­sion prob­lems.

In their ab­sence, young Bris­tol City loa­nees Con­nor Le­mon­heigh-Evans and Jake An­drews have helped to ex­tend United’s un­beaten league run un­der John­son to eight games, lift­ing the Gulls to fourth in the NL South ta­ble.

A re­call for ei­ther Hall or Dick­son could prompt a change in for­ma­tion from a re­cent 4-4-2, which might not be a huge is­sue with pacy right winger Opi Ed­wards now out again for a cou­ple of weeks with a re­cur­rence of thigh strain trou­ble.

A proper ‘win­ter’ pitch kicked in as United strug­gled to over­come Bas­ingstoke Town, af­ter ex­tra-time and penal­ties, in the FA Tro­phy last week­end.

John­son will ex­pect an­other heavy sur­face against Ham­let at Toot­ing & Mitcham’s Im­pe­rial Fields ground, es­pe­cially af­ter they beat in-form di­vi­sional ri­vals Welling United 2-1 in an FA Tro­phy re­play there on Wed­nes­day night.

“The lads were a bit below par last Sat­ur­day,” said John­son. “We’ve had a good chat about it. It’s dif­fer­ent things – it can be weather, pitch, com­pla­cency, lack of form – but hope­fully we have got that one be­hind us. We have watched them [Dul­wich] in their last cou­ple of games, they had a very good re­sult against a strong Welling team.

“Once again you have to turn up, get the jour­ney out of your sys­tem very quickly and put on a per­for­mance.

“What peo­ple al­ways for­get is that the op­po­si­tion are there to stop you play­ing your game, and they’ve got enough in­for­ma­tion on us. There are some clever man­agers at this level – they un­der­stand your strengths and weak­nesses.”

This is Dul­wich’s last game there be­fore they re­turn to their own Cham­pion Hill sta­dium be­fore Christ­mas.

Pro­moted last sea­son, they have been en­ter­tain­ing if in­con­sis­tent, but they are one of the few teams to win at Wok­ing.

Man­ager Gavin Rose has sev­eral ex-Foot­ball League play­ers in his squad, in­clud­ing de­fender Mag­nus Okuong­hae (Colch­ester, Da­gen­ham), goalscor­ing mid­fielder Ash­ley Carew (Gilling­ham, Bar­net, Cam­bridge U), winger Do­minic Vose (Bar­net, Colch­ester, Grimsby) and two for­mer Torquay for­wards, Gavin Tom­lin (Brent­ford, Yeovil) and Iffy Allen (Bar­net, Yeovil, Wrex­ham).

No sooner will United re­turn from this trip than they will have to start pre­par­ing for an­other – they are away to Dart­ford (5th) on Tues­day night.

Torquay United from: Mac- Al­though Truro City have an­nounced their in­ten­tion to con­tinue the ground­share at Plain­moor un­til their ‘home’ derby against the Gulls on New Year’s Day, the White Tigers have now switched their FA Tro­phy first round tie against We­ston-su­per-Mare on De­cem­ber 15 to Treyew Road, pro­vid­ing that a ‘re-grad­ing’ is com­pleted by De­cem­ber 13.

We­ston ob­jected to the move, but have been over­ruled.

Mean­while, United’s own­er­chair­man Clarke Os­borne has added fi­nance con­troller Melanie Hayman and op­er­a­tions man­ager Ge­orge Ed­wards to his hith­erto one-man TUFC board.

Ms Hayman, a qual­i­fied ac­coun­tant and the daugh­ter of for­mer direc­tor and life pres­i­dent Ian Hayman, has been a Gulls fan for 30 years.

Ed­wards, a direc­tor of Os­borne’s Gam­ing In­ter­na­tional group, has been mak­ing most of the key de­ci­sions at Plain­moor this sea­son.

Os­borne hinted that there may be fur­ther ap­point­ments to the Plain­moor board in the next few months.

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