Left-back Lathaniel Rowe-Turner has become the first victim of Torquay United’s post-season post-mortem as manager Martin Ling aims to reshuffle his pack in his first full summer in charge.
Rowe-Turner, 22, joined the Gulls from hometown club Leicester City in February 2010 and had already enjoyed loan spells at Cheltenham, Redditch United and King’s Lynn. The full-back clocked up 35 appearances in his three seasons at Plainmoor, scoring his only goal for the club in a 3-0 win over Barnet in 2010-11.
The decision to release Rowe-Turner will surprise some United fans given their side’s small playing squad, which many cited as the reason for the club losing out on automatic promotion in a 3-2 loss to Hereford, before being sent crashing out of the play-offs with a 4-1 aggregate loss to Cheltenham Town last week. The Gulls used just 23 players in their 2011-12 league campaign,including three loanees – compared to Swindon’s 39 and Southend’s 32 participants.
Torquay manager Martin Ling justified his decision to let Lathaniel go by saying “The main reason he has been released is the position I see him playing is where we have more cover than where I would like him to play… I need a more defensive left back.”
Although Rowe-Turner will surely feel this is a huge setback in his career – he posted a message on his Twitter account claiming he was “Well [a]nd truly lost for words” – Ling offered hope to the versatile defender: “It’s more to do with the shape of squad than ability of player, so he’s been unlucky but he has certainly shown enough to be an asset for a League Two or Conference club.”
Despite left-back being his natural position, Rowe-Turner has found himself playing as a defence-minded left-midfielder brought on as a late substitute in most of his appearances this season. He can also feature at centre-back, making him a valuable utility player to a lower-league or Conference club.
Torquay have also released Rowe-Turner’s fellow young defender Ed Palmer. The centre-back has gained experience with local non-league sides Tiverton Town, Weymouth and Truro, but Ling believes that Palmer can play at “Conference or Conference South level, but [he] hasn’t quite got enough for me at this moment in time.” Despite graduating from Torquay’s youth team two years ago, Palmer had failed to make the breakthrough into the first team and had further slipped down Ling’s defensive roster with the emergence of another youngster, Kirtys MacKenzie.
In the other direction, and on the right side of Plainmoor’s revolving door, comes Welsh midfielder Nathan Craig, signed on a two-year contract. The ex-Everton trainee joins following a successful trial period, despite not making a first-team appearance since beginning his trial in January.
Elsewhere in Devon, newly-relegated Exeter City have released four players, including captain David Noble, a former Arsenal and West Ham midfielder. Other victims of Paul Tisdale’s cull include forward Richard Logan (a Grecian since 2007), goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley and midfielder Chris Shepherd.