ASHLEY Yeoman, one of the first graduates of Plainmoor’s relaunched youth programme, could help Torquay fly Devon’s FA Cup flag at Sheffield United tomorrow.
With both teams allowed to choose seven substitutes for the second-round tie, the young professional appears set to be named in Martin Ling’s squad for arguably the visitors’ biggest match of the season so far.
Yeoman is among a crop of players Torquay hope can follow in the footsteps of Lee Sharpe, the former England international, who progressed through the ranks of the League Two club before establishing himself on the top-flight stage.
“Ashley has done well for the reserves recently,” Ling said.
“He travels with us as part of a 19-man party and so one player is going to miss out.
“I’m happy with the concept of what we have got.”
With finances dictating that United’s latest opponents must produce their own talent rather than relying on expensive and potentially risky forays into the transfer market, Ling has a vested interest in helping the likes of Yeoman progress.
United, who themselves have made a series of key appointments this season to reform their own recruitment structure, could take advantage of the competition’s rules to give James Beattie a run-out for the first time since returning to South Yorkshire on a short-term deal last month.
In normal circumstances, Beattie’s possible inclusion would have dominated the news agenda this week.
But the death of United’s former midfielder, coach and manager, Gary Speed, last weekend has cast a sombre shadow across the contest.
Ling said: “Paying tribute to Gary is a big thing for Sheffield United as a club and rightly so. We will go along with whatever they do, of course, and pay our own respects with them.”
With the loss of suspended midfielder Damon Lathrope negated by confirmation that Eunan O’Kane, an important cog in the Torquay machine, will be available, Ling is confident of ensuring United endure an awkward afternoon.
Nevertheless, he is aware that choosing the right deputy for Lathrope could hold the key to his side’s chances.
The 22-year-old has been a driving force behind Torquay’s recent good form which sees them travel north today having won five of their last six outings.
“Damon is in there to do a job,” Ling said. “And it’s one he does really by picking up the pieces and making us a solid unit.”
Although Ling, like his opposite number Danny Wilson, is keen to promote a passing style, Lathrope was instrumental in helping Torquay eke out a goalless draw at Port Vale last month.
“We had to be dogged and show a lot of character,” said Ling.
Torquay beat Chesterfield 3-1 in the previous round and again relied on industry rather than invention to see them through.
“Confidence is high at the moment,” Ling said.
“Everything we did there went well and we were really solid and defensively very strong which was excellent to see.”
Teams and ref
BLADES (possible): Simonsen, Lowton, Ertl, Collins, Williams, Quinn, Montgomery, Doyle, Flynn, Cresswell, Evans (4-4-2)
TORQUAY (possible): Olejnik, Nicholson, Robertson, Oastler, Ellis, Mansell, Morris, Bodin, Stevens, O’Kane, Howe (4-4-2).
Christopher Sarginson: The Staffordshire official will be making his first visit to Bramall Lane since February last year when he takes charge of tomorrow’s FA Cup second-round tie between Sheffield United and Torquay. Has issued 34 yellow and two red cards in 13 outings so far this term.