Manager Alan Knill says that teenage forward Danny Sullivan is forcing his way up the pecking order at Torquay United on merit.
Sullivan, 18, graduated from the Gulls’ Academy at the end of last season, the only second-year scholar to be given a professional contract.
His pre-season highlight was a coolly-taken second goal, as a substitute, in the 2-0 win over Championship side Yeovil Town.
The Plymouth-born starlet made his League debut – the 999th player to make his first senior appearance for the club – when Knill sent him on in last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Morecambe.
And then he scored two spectacular goals in a 3-2 friendly win for United’s Reserves at Cheltenham Town this midweek.
“When I watched Danny last year, I wasn’t totally convinced,” admitted Knill.
“He was the best player in our youth team, but I didn’t think he moved around as much as we wanted him to, although in fairness he played ‘in the hole’ a lot of the time, where everyone has to find him with the ball.
“But he’s earned our confidence this season, and he deserved to go on at Morecambe.
“He scored two terrific goals at Cheltenham on Tuesday, both from the edge of the area, one with his right foot and one with his left.
“He works hard, listens and he’s only going to get better with first-team football.
“You don’t want to blow people up too much, but we’re fortunate that Danny isn’t that sort of lad.”
Karl Hawley and loanee Callum Ball are likely to be first choices, but even if striker Elliot Benyon completes his recovery from concussion and bruising on the brain, sustained in the Capital One Cup-tie at Swindon Town ten days ago, there may still be a place on the bench for Sullivan in tomorrow’s home game against early League Two leaders Oxford United.
Knill and physio Damian Davey will make a decision on Benyon’s fitness after today’s training session.
They also have to decide whether goalkeeper Michael Poke, who is yet to feature for Torquay this season, is ready to be considered for first-team selection.
Poke has been out for six weeks, since suffering a torn thigh muscle in pre-season, and Knill said: “Michael has trained fully this week, and he looks sharp and strong, but he needs a game.”