Torquay United have completed the signing of Scottish midfielder Craig Easton, following the 33-year-old’s successful two-week trial at Plainmoor at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Easton had been a free agent after being released by Scottish First Division outfit Dunfermline in January, as the side headed towards relegation from the SPL. While the player is relieved to be hooked up with a new club, Torquay manager Martin Ling similarly pleased to have boosted his midfield options, as the transfer saga surrounding United playmaker Eunan O’Kane’s possible transfer to Crawley Town continues.
However, Ling has stressed that Easton has not be signed as a direct replacement for O’Kane: “I don’t see him as a replacement for Eunan. I’m looking for two centre midfielders if Eunan goes, and hopefully one will be Craig”, the former Cambridge boss revealed on Monday.
Easton had previously played under Ling at Leyton Orient between 2005 and 2007, a past link that has played a large part in the Scot signing for Torquay. Says Ling: “He was a massive part of my successful time at Orient… he was a mainstay in my centre midfield. He was nigh on Player of the Season [in 2005] and I just know that I can trust him.”
Ling’s tendency to stick with what he knows when it comes to signing new players served United well last season, as the club reached the League Two play-offs with the help of defender Brian Saah, who had previously played under Ling at both Leyton Orient and Cambridge.
Although he may find himself initially deputising for United’s midfield lynchpins of last season, Damon Lathrope and captain Lee Mansell, Easton’s impressive CV has fuelled hope that the Scot can provide increased competition in a midfield that virtually picked itself in 2011-12. Craig has taken in spells at Dundee United, where he spent 8 years, and Livingston in his home country, and has experience playing at English clubs Swindon and Southend, as well as earning 22 caps for the Scottish under-21 side between 1998 and 2001.
The man himself was clearly pleased to have won the security of another professional contract under a manager he knows well, taking to his Twitter account to say “Thanks to everyone for the kind messages [about] signing for Torquay. Can’t wait to get involved, bring on the new season!”.
Unusually for a footballer, Easton runs his own blog at http://eastonblog.wordpress.com/, covering both football and music. Born in Bellshill, Scotland – the same birthplace as Sir Matt Busby and Ally McCoist – Easton is a sports journalism student, planning ahead for a career after retirement from professional football.
An eventful pre-season has already seen Plainmoor’s revolving door fully put to use, with Ling releasing defenders Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and Ed Palmer and Kenyan international Taiwo Atieno, as well as signing Ryan Jarvis and Nathan Craig on permanent deals, following the pair’s temporary stays last season. Midfielders Chris McPhee and Lloyd Macklin have both been transfer-listed, while goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik has joined Championship side Peterborough for £300,000.