Torquay United defender Aaron Downes nears return

Aaron Davies

Torquay boss Alan Knill says experienced centre-back Aaron Downes is on the verge of a first-team return after knee surgery.

The 28-year-old has made a rapid recovery after undergoing surgery at the start of October and will play in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday

"If he comes through that then he's fit," Knill told BBC Radio Devon.

But the Gulls expect forward Billy Bodin to be out for four weeks with a knee cartilage injury.

Downes' expected return will come as a major boost to Torquay, who are struggling near the foot of League Two despite Saturday's 1-1 draw with Portsmouth.

Knill has been without both Downes and his other other first-choice centre-back Krystian Pearce in recent weeks.

Pearce was suffering with a potentially serious illness, and was then suspended after being sent off against Mansfield Town.

"Aaron was player of the year last season and he was a key person to re-sign." said Knill, talking before the game against Portsmouth.

"There are big players within every team and it hurts when you lose them.

"The pair [Downes and Pearce] were becoming a proper partnership. They were forming a good understanding and we suddenly lost both of them."

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