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Baker offered more time to impress Ling and earn full-time Gulls deal

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Torquay United's Brian Saah (left) is aiming to return against Burton Albion on Saturday ahead of the re-arranged Devon derby against Exeter City next Tuesday Picture: Graeme Truby/Pinnacle

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Torquay United manager Martin Ling has extended local winger Karl Baker's six-month deal to the end of the season, to give him more time to try to earn a permanent contract.

However, the Gulls' boss has told midfielder George Artemi that he can leave Plainmoor after a similar half-season stay with the club.

Baker, from Paignton, had been playing for Carslberg South West Peninsula League side Stoke Gabriel when he was recommended to Ling by Stoke's then manager, former United midfielder Russell Musker, last summer.

As a schoolboy, Baker was on United's books at their original centre of excellence before the club's youth scheme was shut in 2004, and he was briefly on AFC Bournemouth's staff as a trainee.

Baker, 23, has been restricted to reserve-team appearances so far, and Ling said: "It has been difficult for Karl, because he hasn't had too many chances to show us what he can really do.

"Once the midwinter is out of the way, he'll get more games, and I'll be looking for him to push on."

Baker will have his first chance to play for several weeks when he is likely to be in the United side to meet Newton Abbot-based Buckland Athletic in a Devon St Luke's Challenge Cup quarter-final at Homers Heath next Wednesday (7.45pm), a day after the Gulls' first team face Exeter City in a rearranged npower League Two Devon derby at Plainmoor.

Buckland are the Devon Cup holders, and they have knocked the Gulls out of the competition in each of the last two seasons.

As for former Southend trainee Artemi, Ling said: "George has worked hard, and we've enjoyed having him with us. But he's playing in a position where we're well covered. He wasn't getting anywhere near the first team, and keeping him here would have been no use to us or himself."

Central defender Brian Saah has said that the chance to play against Exeter City is the surprise bonus of his stretched-out suspension.

Centre-back Saah is finally available again after a three-match ban that stems all the way back to his dismissal at Bradford City on December 8 – five weeks ago.

A series of postponements before and after Christmas has forced Saah, 26, to remain on the sidelines, but he hopes to make his return away to Burton Albion this Saturday and then face the Grecians at Plainmoor on Tuesday (8pm).

"After I was sent off, I was looking at maybe two-and-a-half weeks out, especially with all the games we had coming up then," the former Leyton Orient and Cambridge United defender said.

"At the time the Exeter game was one of the matches I thought I was going to miss.

"You always want to play in derbies, and I had to miss the Plymouth game [at Home Park] on Boxing Day. But it's a massive positive for me that, now I'm back at last, I'll be able to play against Exeter.

"It's been very frustrating, and I just want to get back involved with the team again.

"Over the last five weeks I've been able to work on my fitness and spend a bit more time with my family over Christmas. I've tried to treat that as a positive, because you can't let everything else get you down."

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