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Torquay boss Ling delighted with Howe's form despite a lack of goals

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

Rene Howe (left) has not scored a goal for Torquay since October 20, but manager Martin Ling (right) is pleased with his form picture: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

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Torquay United manager Martin Ling has handed a vote of confidence to Rene Howe, even though his leading scorer has not hit the net for seven games.

The Gulls' centre-forward equalled a club record when he scored for the seventh successive Football League match in a 3-2 defeat at Bristol Rovers on October 20, bringing his tally for the season to ten goals.

He has not scored since, but Ling insisted: "It's not a worry for me. He has missed a few chances, yes, but I'm happy with the way he's playing.

"Obviously, Rene's goals were big and important for us at the time when he was scoring every game. But he's had a lot to do with the goals we've scored since then – he's played a part in most of them."

Howe, 26, is one of 16 players who are out of contract next summer, but Ling has dismissed the idea that he might go in for wholesale mid-season renegotiations with the January transfer window looming.

"There's a big set of players, 16 in all I think, out of contract at the end of the season, but we are happy how things are going," Ling added, "and I see most of the decisions being made at the end of the season.

"I don't think it hurts to keep people on their toes, I really don't. We also don't know what the 2013-14 budget is going to be. It's no good offering players big improvements which don't fit into the budget."

Last January, Torquay were tempted to sell centre-back Chris Robertson to Preston North End for £60,000.

Eleven months on, some Gulls' fans have been worried about New Year approaches for players like Howe. But, even with the contract situations as they are, a buying club would have to offer big money to prise any player, especially Howe, out of Plainmoor next month.

Nearly every senior United player is out of contract at the end of the season. Three who are not are goalkeeper Michael Poke, midfielder Nathan Craig and forward Billy Bodin – their deals run to summer 2014.

Torquay are preparing to travel to West Yorkshire to meet fellow npower League Two promotion hopefuls Bradford City on Saturday.

The Bantams may be buoyant – a 2-0 win at Port Vale in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy this week means they are still in all four competitions open to them – but they are also very busy.

Bradford have just started a schedule which forces them to play ten League and Cup games in 33 days up to January 1, including a visit from Arsenal in the Capital One Cup next Tuesday.

The Gulls will be trying to force their way back into the play-offs places after welcome back-to-back wins over York City and Dagenham & Redbridge. They will be without suspended pair Lee Mansell, in midfield, and Joe Oastler, at right-back.

Skipper Mansell completes a three-match ban, while Oastler is out for one game.

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