Torquay United’s season-long search for a centre-forward has led them to experienced targetman Enoch Showunmi, who is poised to make his debut for the relegation-threatened Gulls at Hartlepool United on Saturday.
United manager Chris Hargreaves has clinched a loan deal for the 6ft 5in Notts County striker, who will link up with three former teammates – Karl Hawley, Krystian Pearce and Joss Labadie – at Plainmoor.
London-born Showunmi, 31, a Nigeria international, has scored 64 goals in 213 senior starts for Luton, Bristol City, Leeds United, Falkirk, Tranmere Rovers and County.
He has scored four times in 17 appearances for the League One club this season.
Young loanees Jayden Stockley and Conor Wilkinson have been doing their best in recent weeks, but Showunmi should offer a different brand of size, strength and know-how in the fight to avoid the drop.
Despite increasing financial pressures, exacerbated by costly postponements, United chairman Thea Bristow and her board have given Hargreaves the go-ahead to make what they hope will be a key signing.
Bottom-placed United may be most people’s favourites to go down from League Two, but Hargreaves is more certain than ever that he and the club made the right decision when he was placed in charge two months ago.
Not much has gone right since the Gulls kicked off with two morale-boosting away wins, at AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth, in his first three games in charge.
United did stop a rot of three successive defeats with Tuesday night’s sparky 1-1 home draw with promotion-chasing Burton Albion, but most of their relegation rivals have been picking up points.
Hargreaves, who captained the Gulls to promotion back to the Football League five years ago, is adamant he is the man for the job.
“Whatever scenario happens, I am the right person to manage this club – I know that,” said the former midfielder who turned down another of his old clubs, fellow strugglers Northampton Town, to return to Plainmoor from a coaching role at AFC Bournemouth.
“I’m happy that I made the right decision. I am going to make sure that these players improve, and we have shown glimpses of it.
“We have been punished for moments of inconsistency, things we can’t always control – in games, pitches, injuries, suspensions. I haven’t been disappointed with any of the performances, apart from two – Northampton [1-2] and Accrington [0-1] at home.
“Chesterfield away, when we lost 3-1, was very good, apart from a bad error which changed the game. There isn’t a lot wrong, but the problem is that there’s no time for anything to be wrong.
“But we’ll get through it.”
One player available again is long-serving skipper Lee Mansell, who had a scan and an injection for a knee injury this week, although winger Billy Bodin has dropped out with a recurrence of a knee problem of his own, while Labadie completes a two-match suspension.
With Showunmi on board, Hargreaves may well tweak his striking roster again, with Hawley and Stockley also pressing for recalls.
Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; O‘Connor, Pearce, Downes, Nicholson, Stevens, Lathrope, Harding, Benyon, Goodwin, Showunmi, Tonge, Mansell, Hawley, Stockley, Cameron, Chapell, Cruise.
Unavailable: Cooper (ankle), Bodin (knee), Labadie (suspended), Craig, Yeoman, Sullivan, Thompson, Hutchings (all out on loan).