Lloyd Macklin's season of frustration has continued with the news that the Torquay United winger will be out of action for some time with a broken bone in his foot.
The former Swindon Town player limped off only 17 minutes after going on as a second-half substitute in last Saturday's 3-1 npower League Two home win over Accrington Stanley, and he will be an absentee when the Gulls take on Yeovil Town in tonight's rearranged Johnstone's Paint Trophy second-round tie at Plainmoor (7.45pm).
It has been confirmed that Macklin, 23, who has already been out with a torn hamstring for a month this season, has broken the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot.
United physiotherapist Damian Davey said: "We're hoping Lloyd will be operated on in the next 24 hours to screw the break together. He'll then go into an air-cast boot, and we're probably looking at three months before he's playing again."
"It's very disappointing for Lloyd," manager Martin Ling admitted. "As a player and as a person, we feel that he's grown up this season, and he's made the 18 nearly every time he's been fit."
Ling added: "We've got two players out long term, Ian Morris [Achilles tendon] and now Lloyd, and both were freak injuries – no one saw them happen and no one else was involved."
The rules of the competition dictate that Ling cannot play as many 'reserves' as he might like to do tonight – at least six of the previous or next starting XI have to play.
Centre-forward Rene Howe's pursuit of the club goal-a-game record will not be ended if he plays and does not score in tonight's match.
The record of scoring in seven successive games, held by 1950s hero Sammy Collins and 1988 forward Carl Airey, is for League fixtures, and Howe has now scored six in six.
Ling would not reveal whether or not he will rest Howe, but the Gulls' boss did report that Danny Leadbitter and Tom Cruise will deputise for Joe Oastler and Kevin Nicholson at right-back and left-back respectively.
Of former Arsenal youngster Cruise, Ling said: "Tom is a very good player, and the only reason he has been kept out of the first team so far is that he's got another very good player in front of him in Kevin Nicholson. But Tom has got more versatility to his game – not where we originally thought as a centre-back, but he can definitely play in central or at left midfield.
"Danny Leadbitter is an out-and-out right-back. We've seen the potential he's got over the last season and a bit, but this is an acid test for him now."
Central defender Kyrtis McKenzie is the latest Torquay player to go down with the sickness bug which has affected several members of United's squad over the last ten days, and a decision on the promising youngster's role tonight will be delayed until nearer kick-off.
Yeovil ended a worrying losing run when they beat Colchester United 3-1 at home nine days ago, but manager Gary Johnson will be looking for this game to lift his troops again after the Glovers let a 2-0 lead slip away to League One leaders Tranmere Rovers last Saturday.
A home tie in the southern area quarter-finals against Wycombe Wanderers awaits tonight's winners.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Leadbitter, Saah, Downes, Cruise, Mansell, Craig, Easton, Lathrope, Bodin, Jarvis, Thompson, Howe, Oastler, Nicholson, Stevens, Yeoman, Halpin, Baker, Artemi, McKenzie.
Unavailable: Morris (Achilles tendon), Macklin (foot).