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Torquay United still coming to terms with O'Kane's departure from Plainmoor

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 15, 2012

Martin Ling feels there is more to come from his unbeaten Torquay United side picture: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

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His team is unbeaten after five games – only leaders Gillingham are also undefeated in npower League Two – but Torquay United manager Martin Ling insists that the Gulls, who take on big spenders Rotherham United at the new New York Stadium today (3pm), haven't hit anywhere near top form.

"I'd say we're still simmering, rather than coming to the boil yet," said Ling, whose team will follow today's trip with another journey to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night.

"I only look at the league after 15 games before it really means anything.

"But we are one of only two clubs unbeaten, and if that's still the case after Wimbledon next week, I feel we'll be in a strong position to push on.

"I do believe that the five teams that we've played so far will all be OK in this division this season, and Rotherham will be a test.

"We're gradually getting our injured players back, and the squad is looking stronger each week."

Winger Lloyd Macklin and midfielder Craig Easton are back from hamstring and groin problems respectively, and winger Danny Stevens, who suffered some soreness after his comeback against Plymouth Argyle (0-0) last Saturday, is fine now and hoping to keep his place.

Ling knows that the season is a long haul, and that the best is almost certainly yet to come from his squad.

"If you look at the people who left in the summer and who have been replaced, I still feel that Eunan O'Kane is probably the biggest miss," he said.

"In goal, Michael Poke has come in and done well for Bobby Olejnik, and I think that Aaron Downes is a more than adequate replacement for Mark Ellis.

"We've maybe lacked a bit of creativity in midfield without Eunan, but that's no criticism of the players there now, because we've had to make a couple of changes and I feel we'll get better as the season goes on."

Ling's £70,000 summer signing Billy Bodin is back from international duty with Wales Under-21s, who lost 5-0 away to Czech Republic on Monday night.

"Billy has done OK so far," he said. "He's gone from being fourth or fifth choice striker at Swindon to being one of our main men up front, and the expectation levels of him have gone up. We haven't seen the best of him yet, but I believe he will open doors for us."

Rotherham, who have been playing to 11,000 crowds since their return from "exile" at Sheffield's Don Valley Stadium, will be without the forceful guidance of manager Steve Evans.

Evans starts a six-match stadium ban today, but after the Millers' shock 6-2 defeat at Port Vale last weekend, he will have been hard at work in the build-up.

"They are the bookies' favourites for promotion, they've probably got the biggest budget in the division and they'll be a hard nut to crack," said Ling.

"They got their bums smacked too last Saturday."

The Millers expect to have Iceland international defender Kari Arnason, formerly of Plymouth Argyle and Aberdeen, back from World Cup qualifying duty this week.

Evans, who will hand over his touchline duties to number two Paul Raynor, is not short of options if he wants to make changes.

Veteran goalkeeper Andy Warrington, defenders Arnason, David Tonge and Craig Morgan, midfielders Lionel Ainsworth and Jason Taylor and centre-forward Alex Revell must all be hoping for the Evans "nod".

Torquay United (from): Poke, Rice; Oastler, Saah, Downes, Nicholson, Mansell, Craig, Morris, Bodin, Howe, Stevens, Jarvis, Cruise, Easton, Macklin, Yeoman, Thompson, McKenzie, Leadbitter.

Unavailable: Lathrope (knee), Halpin (ankle), Baker (suspended).

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