A Round-up of Argyle News
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Argyle's turbulent run has continued with a 3-2 loss to bottom of the league Hartlepool United. The home side went 1-0 up after just seven minutes but Argyle equalised before half-time with Ryan Brunt's first goal since March 2013. Hartlepool however took the lead again early in the second half an extended it shortly after. A stoppage time goal from Olly Lee proved to be a mere consolation for Argyle who are now seven matches without a win. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Flanagan(Hartley), McHugh, Talbot(Purrington), Cox, Bobby Reid, Alessandra, Brunt(Lee), Reuben Reid. Subs: Bittner, Thomas, Bentley, Norburn.
Utility player Drew Talbot has signed for Argyle on loan for the remainder of the regular season. Talbot joins from Sheridan's former club Chesterfield where he previously played under Sheridan and was first on Argyle's radar back in 2008 when Paul Sturrock tried to sign him and his strike partner Calvin Andrew from Luton. Talbot has recently recovered from a pubic bone injury and will wear the number 27 as he goes directly into Argyle's squad at Hartlepool tomorrow. Talbot's loan expires on May 2nd.
Argyle defender Jamie Richards has joined Dartford on a one month youth loan. The 20 year old could make his debut in their game against Bristol Rovers on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Luke McCormick and Peter Hartley will both travel to Hartlepool United with the team as will youngster Matt Lecointe who has suffered from a sequence of injury problems in recent years. Whilst Sheridan confirmed McCormick would indeed be fit to start the game, he refused to be drawn on Hartley and confirmed Lecointe would not feature in the matchday 18. He said: "Luke is okay. He will be fit for tomorrow. It's obviously good news his finger isn't broken. He's still a bit sore but he's available to play. When he first went off against Morecambe I thought it was serious because he wouldn't have come off for nothing.
"Pete will tell you he's ready, but that's the decision I will make. He's just good in and around training. He sets standards for everyone else. You don't have to be the best player but you can affect people when you set standards. People bounce off you and I think that's what Pete gives a lot to the team.
"Matty has joined in in training and is doing all the ball work. I'm just taking Matty because there is a spare place. I think it will be good for him. He has had a hard time and it will get him used to being in and around the players again. He won't be on the bench but I will let him do the warm-up. He has done well this week. I asked him the question would he like to travel and he said yes."
Carl McHugh is determined that the Hartlepool match would be the one to end Argyle's recent bad run of form. The Irish central defender also gave a positive self-appraisal of his time at Argyle so far which included praise for the players around him as well as the 3-5-2 system. McHugh said: "We want to get back to winning ways. I've said that before when you've been on a good run, you're always going to have a sticky spell in the season, every team does. But you have just got to stick together and that's what we have to do as players and staff; stick together and I think we'll be alright. We're gutted after games where we don't get the three points," said Carl. "That's what we want. We still stay positive, there's still a lot of points to play for. You don't get too high when you're winning, and you can't get too low when you lose. There's a long way to go."
"It does help to have that bit of continuity between us. Earlier on in the season me, Pete, and Nelse were playing a lot of consecutive games together, and we know each other really well now. You are always going to get injuries and suspensions that can break that up, but we have got to keep ploughing on. It will great to have Pete back involved. He's been a big player for us and a big character. He's a massive presence for us around the place and it will be good to have him back. I think I played it in a few friendlies, but I never played first team games with it. I only ever played centre-half as a four. I've loved it to be honest, I've loved playing in the middle of the back three. I think it's suited me pretty well, so I've really enjoyed it. Nelse is brilliant, he's a top player. He's been great to play beside. I think he's got a really bright future ahead of him, and I think he's really stepped up to the plate being the captain this season, especially at 21. He's too good for this league in some ways."
John Sheridan knows that staying busy in the loan market is imperative to Argyle achieving success this season. The Argyle manager gave an insight into the world of chasing after loan signing and the problems that that entails as well as well as giving one final update on the state of things with Anthony O'Connor and Andy Kellett. In short, Bolton need to add to their squad and O'Connor only wants to move on loan rather than a permanent transfer: "I think in the lower leagues, you have got to rely on loans. I think it is difficult as well with the position we are in, with trying to attract and get people in to come down on permanent deals during the season. If you have got family it has got to be the right deal for you. Loan players is probably the way we've got to go. Ideally, I'd like to sign them on permanent deals all day long. There's always the danger when you bring loan players in and they do well that they are going to move on somewhere else, because they have done well at Plymouth. That's just the way it is. Unfortunately it has happened to us and affected us.
"Obviously I am very pleased that he has gone back to Bolton and started in the first team. I rang him up and applauded him – I said 'good luck and well done for getting in the first team.' He has come here, done well and gone back to Bolton. Neil Lennon wanted to have a look at him. Whether he will be a permanent fixture or he will figure for Bolton I am a bit unsure. I have spoken to Andy and he wants to come back here; if he is not going to play at Bolton there is only one club he wants to play for, and that is Plymouth. I spoke to him and he has told me that. I think Bolton are trying to add to their squad, and if they can get one or two players in, there is a good possibility that we might get him back. It is just a matter of a phone call.
"Blackburn to be fair have made it clear, the situation," said Sheridan. "I think it's just Anthony: he's playing under-21 football all season, and it's not going to benefit him. He is better than under 21 football. He has been there, done that, and he's proven himself at league level. He's another one that wants to come back here, 100%. Blackburn are just holding out for a permanent deal. He is not my player, so I can't really say if Blackburn are doing right or wrong.
"It has been busy," John said. "I have just come off the phone to a club now so I am still chasing, trying to get people involved for Saturday. It is not through a lack of trying. I understand people want to see people come in and make us stronger – myself included, believe me. I have got the nod from a club to try and bring in a player I am after, so it is down to the player now. Hopefully something might come from that."
Sheridan finally re-iterated that he is still prepared to let Marvin Morgan move to Hartlepool before the end of the transfer window on Monday. Pools manager Ronnie Moore was at Home Park on Tuesday to watch Argyle's development game against Yeovil in which Morgan scored two goals. Sheridan: "I have made it clear to Morgan he's available to go out to whichever club suits him. I spoke to Ronnie Moore and I think he has been talking to Marvin's agent so Ronnie knew the situation before he even came down to watch him. Full credit to Ronnie, though. He has come a long way to watch a reserve game."
There is good news for Argyle fans on the Luke McCormick front following a scan today which revealed that the Argyle keeper has not broken his finger but merely bruised it. Physio Paul Atkinson explained the injury and also gave an update on some of Argyle's other wounded players: "Luke had an x-ray which showed no fracture. He is suffering bruising and swelling of the ring finger on his left hand, towards the knuckle area. Kelvin is similar. His shoulder is not fractured, although he was in pain on Saturday night after the pain-killing injection wore off. Both will be hopeful of being involved at Hartlepool on Saturday. Marvin trained today and Peter will be back in training later in the week."
John Sheridan believes that Argyle are 'not making it easy' following the extension of their winless run to 6 matches. Sheridan praised the footwork of Reuben Reid in the lead-up to the goal but was once against frustrated at the cheap way in which Argyle surrendered the match. The manager said: "It was a brilliant ball and he's took and finished it really well. That is the positive from the game. I felt once we got the goal, it's about having that bit of know-how to win the game 1-0, win ugly. The most important thing today was to get the three points. I tried to say that to them at half time. We are down again. It's a home result where everybody thought we were going to win the game but we haven't again and we are making life every difficult. There's no excuse. Morecambe are strong and organised. They get men behind the ball and I said we might have to be patient sometimes and play that extra pass. We got in some good areas but it's just that final ball at times that lets us down. I said before the game: 'don't allow them to get men behind the ball, attack them early,' and the goal was a prime example of that.
"I went quite attacking; I ended up playing 4-2-4 really, at the end, with Nathan coming on," said Sheridan. Putting Lewis out on the right with Ryan up front, we were just trying to chase a goal, but I did not really feel as though much was going to happen. Lewis was just the best option to play out there but I think it was a wrong decision, because he was our brightest player, and I should have kept him down the middle. We didn't really get going in the second half, the game just ended up flat because we were after three points. I felt we were going to get three points when we got the goal. I thought we were going to go on and win the game but we haven't created too much - even though we had a lot of the ball. They have had one or two chances and we are just huffing and puffing but I think it's just a case of when you are 1-0 up, seeing the game out. A draw is not good enough and we need to win games. We do leave ourselves vulnerable, and we are very naive sometimes. I am not making excuses; the second half wasn't good enough. We have let ourselves down today. When we are 1-0 up I expect ourselves to win the game, but we haven't."
He was particularly irked by Argyle's poor defending at set pieces following yet another goal conceded from an opposition free kick or corner, the tenth this season. He said: "The goal is very disappointing," he said. "We have been going through that set play all week with the defenders. They knew what was going to happen with the blocker, Drummond, and we have been doing it all week, so there are no excuses. It was a poor goal, and then we get edgy when it goes to 1-1. Thursday and Friday, we went through it all so many times. There are people apologising in the dressing room, but it is no good. We knew what was going to happen, we set up for what was going to happen, but I can only give information – I am not on the pitch. We let ourselves down with the goal we conceded, because I have said on the dressing room board in my notes: 'no cheap corners, no cheap set plays,' because they are decent with them. They are quite adventurous with them. We got done with one that we should never have got done with."
James Bittner gave a bittersweet assessment of his first game in an Argyle shirt and his first ever appearance in the football league. He took a number of positives and negatives from the game and gave a homage to Luke McCormick who he has enjoyed working with for the past few months: "I've been sub many a time, but never come on the pitch. I loved the experience – any debut is nice – apart from the circumstances. It would have been a lot better if it was three points, of course. Me and Luke work as a pair very closely; we're very good friends off the pitch, as well. We work very closely with our goalkeeping coach Rhys Wilmot, who is a top man, as well. We train very similar throughout the whole week and then, maybe at the end of a session, when the boys want to do some finishing, I'll go in and do all the more intensive stuff. Fitness wise, I am feeling good after a year out, coaching. I'm feeling sharp. I've not played as many games as I'd have liked, but that's the way it is. "I've had it for years," he said. I had six years in the Conference, playing regularly, and ten years in the Football League, as a number two or third choice. It's hard, travelling around the country, waiting for your opportunity, always being ready for the game, but you are not actually used. It is the trade of a second-choice goalkeeper. All it takes is one bad knock, or a red card – you can be called on at any moment, so you have to be ready.
"Luke's is the same hand as last year; not the same injury. It's a little higher up, nearer the knuckle. He'll have an x-ray on Monday, so we'll see. Obviously, he was in a lot of pain. It's one of the downfalls of being a goalkeeper.He made a great double save. He saved a one-on-one, jumped up, and got the rebound. The forward's followed through and caught his hand and the ball at the same time with his foot. He's sandwiched it. Luke was going to see how it was at half-time but he said, probably three-quarters of the way through the first half, that it wasn't right, so I knew I was coming on at half-time. Being my age, you need to warm up for a while.
"I'll be honest, when that goal goes in, you think 'Oh dear – one of those days, maybe'. It was a set-piece we'd worked on all week, which was a bit disappointing for us, as a defensive unit. It could have been avoided. Luckily, we kept a clean sheet other than that. Unfortunately, we couldn't score at the other end, which was a bit disheartening. He came through, taking on Kelvin Mellor on the outside, and shot from a very tight angle," said James. "You try to make yourself as big as possible and hope the ball hits you.
What's happened today has happened; we'll see what happens this week. In a way, it's harder than it is against top teams; away from home against a team playing for their lives – they are probably harder to play than Luton or Shrewsbury at home, maybe. It'll be a tough game, but one we are ready for."
Finally, Sheridan admitted that Argyle needed an 'ugly win' in the midst of several frustrating draws and losses: "We need an ugly win and that's what I said at half time: just win the game 1-0. It doesn't matter how we play, it is just the points that are the most important thing at this moment in time. We know we have got to win games, and it's not about how well you play. It is about grinding them out. From what we have been at home, where we have been lively and created lots of chances, I just feel as though we need a break, and we just need to get a win. That might just give us a lift, because at the moment we are a little bit flat. Only we can change that. We have got to get on with it and stand up for ourselves, because we are not where we want to be, or getting the results we want. Whatever happens and whatever is said, you just have to take it on the chin, because we know that's how football is. That is what we will do. I will not hide from anything, I will just carry on and believe - but games are going quickly, and a point again is not good enough for where we want to be. The most important thing at this moment in time is getting three points."
Argyle's winless run has continued with a 1-1 draw against Morecambe in a game that was marred by an injury to Luke McCormick in the Argyle goal. Reuben Reid put Argyle into the lead on the stroke of half-time but the visitors equalised before substitute keeper James Bittner had a chance to touch the ball. The game petered out into a score draw in spite of a late Morecambe surge. Argyle: McCormick(Bittner), Nelson, McHugh, Flanagan, Mellor, Cox(Thomas), Lee(Brunt), Bobby Reid, Purrington, Reuben Reid, Alessandra. Subs: Norburn, Banton, Bentley.
John Sheridan has explained his rationale for the signing of former Bristol Rovers forward Ryan Brunt. He give his view on the potential of the young striker and revealed that he also tried to sign him at his previous club. Sheridan said: "I think he has got really good potential – I have liked him for a few years. He got a bad injury a year-and-a-half ago, but I remember when he was at Stoke I tried to get him. He did really well at Stevenage on loan, so I am pleased. He just gives us something different to Lewis Alessandra, which I have been after. He was always more of a target man. Obviously I have been trying for the last two or three weeks to bring one or two players in. I am glad to bring Ryan in. I think he has got of the attributes to being a successful player for us. He is a really good age, and it is about getting a bit of confidence back in himself. Hopefully he will come in and do well for us.
"He went to York this year, and did really well at Stevenage," said John, "so I am very confident. He has had a little bit of an ankle injury, but that was just a two-week thing, just a little twist of the ankle. He is in training today, he is fit, he is available for Saturday. I think with Ryan, if you look at this record you think he has not scored enough goals, and I believe I can get the best out of him. He is a good age and a good addition. He is somebody who wants to come and play, and he is different to what we have got. I think he is going to do really well here. He must be full of beans now that I have signed him. I have got him, he is coming to a decent team who are just on a little bad run at the moment. I think he will fit in very well for us. I do not look at any negative sides. I think he is going to score loads of goals for us, and hopefully he will do that."
Sheridan also admitted that whilst Morecambe would be a difficult game tomorrow, he had every faith in his players to up their game and return to winning ways: "I think Jim Bentley has done an excellent job there at Morecambe. I think he does really well to have them where they are, and they can beat any team in this division. They are very hard to play against, always well-organised, and they have got one or two decent players. Ellison and Redshaw up front are always a threat, and we are very wary of that. They will come and make it very hard for us. Again, it is a home game for us and I expect us to go and win the game. I am hoping to have one or two back. Ollie Norburn has been back training, Coxy will be back. Obviously Ryan is here from last week, Bobby is here from last week, so hopefully there will be one or two more. There are still one or two with a chance for Saturday. When you are on a good run, you want to keep everyone. I usually knew what team I was going to pick, but since Newport we have picked up injuries. Throughout the season we have stayed clear of them, but for some reason we are picking up these niggling injuries, where it is one or two weeks, or two or three games, they miss. Again, I try not to make it as an excuse. I do not go on about injured players. No disrespect, but they are not any good to me because they are not playing. I have got to worry about the ones that are fit. I will put a team out that will try and win us the game.
"Not being disrespectful to Morecambe: I am more worried about my team," he said. "We have got to get back to winning ways. Two points from five games is not what we wanted, and not what we expected. I have got to get that belief back in the players. I said it before the Luton game: we have got a period of games where, when you look on paper, you could catch a few points up, and that is what we have got to do. I could talk all day but it is about going on the pitch and being positive, and getting back to winning ways. That is what I will be installing in the players."
Ryan Brunt's move to Argyle on an 18 month contract has been formally rubberstamped.
Bobby Reid explained that there was never any doubt in his mind about a loan return to Argyle in order to secure first team football. Reid explained that whilst Bristol City is his club, all opportunities for self-betterment there were lost considering the Robins' excellent league form so far this campaign. Reid: "I had a good spell here; I enjoyed it and we were doing well; and I wasn't playing at Bristol, so it made sense. I think it's a no-brainer, if I'm honest. They are doing well, so I can understand where they are coming from, but I don't want to be there, doing nothing, wasting the rest of my season. The manager told me to work on a few things that I need to do for myself to improve my career. Winning games is the most important thing, and affecting the game, whether it's goals, assists or being defensively solid. That's what I'm trying to bring again. Hopefully, we can go on another run, but I'm just going to take it game by game and see what happens. There are 20 games left. We have got to really go for it and see where it takes us. You never know what will happen. I want to enjoy it. I enjoyed it when I was here before; that's the main thing for me in coming back. There's no point in me going to another club in the same league where I've got to start again and get used to everything there. Everything has been fine since I've been here. Everyone has welcomed me nicely."
John Sheridan confirmed that an injury crisis at Bolton Wanderers is the reason for Andy Kellett having not yet returned to Home Park in spite of the wishes of both Argyle and the player concerned. Sheridan confirmed. He went on to give the latest on fellow loanee Anthony O'Connor: "I know they have got a lot of injuries at Bolton. Andy wants to come back, but it's not my decision or his decision. It's Bolton's decision. I think they are trying to get one or two players in, and while they are still trying Andy is back training there. He has had a scan on his injury and got the all clear regarding that. He's training now. We will work hard to try to get him back involved for Saturday.
"Blackburn want Anthony to go somewhere permanently, and Anthony is not wanting to do that. He needs to get out and play games, and carry on enjoying his football, which he has been doing. He's another one who wants to be here and playing football."
Sheridan also made it known that Marvin Morgan can leave Plymouth Argyle if he can sort out a deal away from Home Park. Sheridan made it clear that whilst a player was not getting regular football, he would not stand in their way: "I haven't stood in Marvin's way. I have said he can go, and the decision is down to him. With Ryan coming in, I think Marvin understands the situation. I think it's in Marvin's best interests. He hasn't had a lot of football and I have spoken to him about it. He's a clever lad and a good pro. I think it's just a case of him getting some football somewhere. Marvin won't play against us if he goes to Hartlepool. I have told them that."
The manager also re-iterated his previous message of positivity and the importance of sticking together in the midst of a bad run of form. He maintained his belief that Argyle are doing many of the right things to win games, even if they have not received the rub of the green just yet: "It is a lack of goals because we are not winning games, and it is a lack of results. Three or four weeks ago we were doing very well, and everyone was positive. I have got to look at what we have done well to get us in that position, and that is football. Up until the Newport game I was very confident and positive that we would get good results, but we have not from the last five games. Two points from five games is not good enough. We have created chances, and we could have easily scored more goals. People outside, because you are not winning games or scoring goals, they look at things. They usually put two and two together and get five. I have got to stay positive.
"I am very confident in my group of players, and that is the most important thing in my eyes. If I was not confident in my players I would be really worried, but I am really confident in my players that we will be where we want to be at the end of the season. Whether you think I am arrogant or not; people get this opinion of me and try and judge me as a person, it is pathetic sometimes. I just want to stay positive, and I am positive that we will be where want to at the end of the season. I think a lot of the things we have done this season, we have done well. I have got to maintain what I believe in. That is the most important thing in my eyes. For me as a person and a manger, I have got to stick to what I believe in.
"I have told you before: if I fail, I fail and lose my job. If I am successful, everyone will give me a pat on the back. My players are fully aware that we will be successful, but we have got to pick up results, starting with the game on Saturday."
Finally, Argyle will be showing their support for the Football Against Homophobia campaign with a dedicated day for the event when Argyle host Cambridge on February 14th. FvH is a campaign uniting fans, players, communities, grassroots teams, professional clubs and the Football Authorities in opposing homophobia and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in football. The campaign lists its three objectives: to make existing football structures safe, welcoming and inclusive for LGBT people; to create opportunities for LGBT people to engage with football; and to improve representation of LGBT people throughout football.
Bobby Reid has completed a return to Home Park that will see him remain an Argyle loanee until the end of the season. Reid who turns 22 next month has already had 3 months with Argyle as a short-term loanee in 2014 and now finally joins on a standard loan.
Yesterday's signing Ryan Brunt has said that joining Argyle was a no-brainer for him and the future of his career. He also gave an overview on his detailed career so far including his injuries and recent loan spells. Brunt said: "There are a lot of players who haven't got the experience I have got at my age. That's something that will benefit me and I see Plymouth to be going places and in the direction I want to be going in my career. As soon as I had a chance to come to Plymouth, I knew I wanted to come. We are in a great position. I know the last few weeks haven't gone as everyone wanted them to go, but we're definitely in a position to get into the play-offs and push for promotion. There was nothing structurally wrong with my knee. It was just a minor thing that no-one could fathom out until I went to see a top surgeon in London. I have put that behind me this season. I have been out for a couple of weeks recently with an ankle injury, but that's neither here nor there. The loans were two really good periods of time at different clubs. The York loan was more to get my fitness, to be honest, because I hadn't played in a while; at Stevenage, I really progressed as a player, I think, which has benefited me."
Argyle are set to sign striker Ryan Brunt. Subject to the necessary formalities being completed, the former Bristol Rovers striker will join the club on an 18 month contract. He left the conference side earlier this week. The forward has had previous loan spells this season at Argyle's League Two rivals York and Stevenage. He has been allocated the squad number 28.
Paul Wotton has retired from football in all but name according to manager John Sheridan. Sheridan explained how Wotton has not been training in spite of his registration as a player and therefore was not considered for the team in the midst of Argyle's current injury crisis. Sheridan said: "He doesn't train – I'm fitter than Paul Wotton. The good thing about the three outfield subs I had was that Jamie is a centre-half, Nathan is a striker and Tyler is a midfielder, so we were covered – and you can only put three on any way. If Paul Wotton had been on the bench, it would have been a bit harsh to put him on as a centre-half instead of Jamie. I would never have done that."
Paul Atkinson has given an injury update on all of Argyle's players who picked up an injury either before or during the game against Luton on Saturday. Atkinson's round-up was as follows: Peter Hartley could be ready for a return to action in time for the trip to his old club Hartlepool on January 31st but the club are cautious about rushing him back too quickly after already having one aborted return from injury. Andy Kellett is having treatment at Bolton whilst talks about a potential return to Argyle take place. Jason Banton is undertaking rehabilitation from a hamstring pull that he suffered in training on Thursday. Marvin Morgan was sidelined by an abdominal muscle strain but that has since settled down and he could be fit for the visit of Morecambe to Home Park this Saturday. Ollie Norburn is also expected to resume training before the end of the week. The club are waiting for Dominic Blizzard's hamstring injury to settle down before any treatment can be given. Lee Cox is back in training today and will be back in the squad soon whilst Tyler Harvey is still sore from the dead leg that he picked up in the Luton match.
Argyle lost 1-0 to Luton yesterday but John Sheridan insisted that there was 'little' between the two teams. Sheridan described an evenly matched game in which he thought Argyle gave a decent account of themselves and showed no lack of effort, if perhaps a lack of sharpness. Finally, he gave his view on Argyle's 'goal that never was' in the first half. The manager said: "I think there was nothing between both teams. I just think the goal just changed the game. I thought we started the game quite well, and I was pleased with the way we were playing in the first half. They have kept a tight shape, which they are good at. It was through a lack of trying – I just thought we were a bit short of sharpness, but I do not think there was anything between the two teams. If the game would have stayed 0-0, probably until half time, then we probably would have had a good chance of going on to win the game. They just get men behind the ball and they keep their shape. I do not think they really troubled us in any way whatsoever after the goal, but I do not think we have caused them enough problems. We have huffed and puffed and one or two balls are going in the box from wide areas that are not troubling their keeper too much.
"The ref has said he has pushed him. Whether he has or not, I do not know – Reuben says he has not. Nowadays anyway, when you touch or make body contact, they usually give a foul anyway. They give a foul for everything, nowadays. It was a good goal as well, good movement from us, a great ball in and a great header. It is those little breaks; if we get the first goal, I felt we would have gone on and won the game, but we did not. I said before the game that it is two home games, and I am looking to get six points. The lads are disappointed, and I will praise all the players. They never gave in, never hid, but without really causing the keeper to make too many saves, but it was not through a lack of effort. Luton did a good job on us, by just getting men behind the ball and keeping their shape. I felt as though we did not really switch the game a lot, and we should have a lot more. I tried to change our shape to 4-4-2, but it do not affect the game so we went back to 3-5-2, where I felt we just kept possession a little better. There was nothing between the teams, so we are disappointed with the result. Again, it was a decent crowd, so we have just got to stay together, be strong, and while we are on this bad run we have got to get a kick-start and get back on another good run."
Olly Lee expressed his excitement at joining a 'big club' such as Argyle and gave his view on the greens' performance against Luton: "The first half, especially, I really enjoyed," he said. "I seemed to get quite a bit of time on the ball, so I could try to get it into the front players and let them do their magic up there. In the second half, it became more of a scrappy game because we were trying desperately to get a goal. Luton are a strong side – you know what you are going to get from them and they are very effective – but I thought that, on the balance of play, we were a lot better. I thought we were really unlucky, letting one poor goal in and we couldn't get another one back – the ball was going across the box; we had a goal disallowed; I thought we were the much better side but just couldn't get that goal. Apparently it was for a push, but the lads were raging at half-time. I think the referee might look back and think otherwise, but it's one of those things – sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't – so we have just got to move on and, hopefully, next week, it will go for us. That's football. If we were one up, I think we could have gone on and maybe won it by two or three, but they score and we couldn't get ourselves back in the game. We huffed and we puffed, but it just wasn't to be. In the last 15 minutes, it hit me quite hard, but it's just great to be out there; I loved every minute apart from the result. I loved being out there. The lads were brilliant to me; I can't speak highly enough of all of them. I am looking forward to cracking on for this month and hopefully get us a few wins.
"You can clearly see that it's not your typical League 2 club and that's why, as soon as I got the call, I was desperate to come down here. I know it's a big, big side. You see 8-9,000 here – Birmingham get only 14,000. So it was great to be out there. It's a really good club and I got a feel for it straight away. It's a massive highlight," he said, "because you'd rather be at the top of the table than languishing lower in the league. It's definitely something I'm really excited about. Obviously, the standard is higher in the Championship, but, individually, there are a lot of good players in League 2 and a lot of players who can play at that standard – it's just a case of getting the opportunity. I played League 2 two seasons ago and, when I was speaking to the manager, he said it's changed a lot and, to be fair, it has: all teams want to keep it on the deck a bit more. That suits me a lot better."
John Sheridan urged his Argyle side to show togetherness in the midst of what is a poor run of 2 points in 5 games. He told his troops to keep strong and get back to winning ways in the near future: "The run we are on at the moment is not good enough to get in the playoffs or get out of the division, so we have just got to stay together. I have just said to the players that they have got to be strong, and that is what I will keep instilling in them. I think we just need to stay strong, and hopefully the players will react, work hard, and get back to winning ways. We have just got to look after each other, take whatever comes because you are on a bad run. I totally understand that two points from five games is not good enough. I will accept that, but I am not going to turn around and say we are a bad team all of a sudden. When you are in a position where you are all hungry to get out of the division – and we were very hopeful five games ago – I totally understand that. I thought we would be still up there around the top two or three, looking at the fixtures. But we have not got the results, and we have not played as well as we have done. We could have had three or four more points, but we have not, and I have just got to face that."
Sheridan also gave yet another update on the future of loans starts Bobby Reid, Anthony O'Connor and Andy Kellett: "Andy has got a slight groin injury. He did it in training on Thursday afternoon. He's going back to Bolton but, hopefully, he will be coming back next week. I have had a chat with Andy and he wants to stay, and I think Bolton have agreed for him to stay until the end of the season. He has got to go back to Bolton first. He hasn't even met Neil Lennon yet. Ben has come in and done a tremendous job today, but Andy has been a massive player for us at home. He has had the injury before, when he was at Bolton. It's just one of those where he doesn't want a recurrence of it.
"We are trying to get Anthony back. It's in the hands of Blackburn. I feel as though we have done everything we can. He's their player and if they are not happy with what we are doing, there is not a lot I can do.
"I know Bobby travelled to Scunthorpe. It's ongoing with Bobby. I'm trying to get Bobby back. He knows that and Bristol know that. I will be trying to sort things out next week."
Finally, Sheridan gave a long list of updates on the Argyle players who are currently injured with details of their injury and an expected timescale for their return. The information given is as follows: River Allen picked up a groin injury in the Final Third Development League Cup group game against Portsmouth at Home Park last Tuesday and will be out for three weeks. Jason Banton acquired a hamstring injury in training on Thursday and failed a fitness test before the game against Luton. Kellett also failed a fitness test for the game. Aaron Bentley was completing the final game of his three-match suspension after his red card in the 2-1 home defeat by Oxford United on December 28. Peter Hartley is still suffering from his ongoing hip injury and will be considered for selection in about two weeks time. Marvin Morgan has an injury of an unspecified nature. Deane Smalley and Matt Lecointe are still in the midst of long-term injury lay offs. Ollie Norburn had an injury to his back when playing for the 'development side' and is also out for three weeks.
On top of all this, Argyle picked up three injuries during the match. Lee Cox was substituted at half-time because of a thigh problem. Tyler Harvey replaced him and almost immediately suffered a 'dead leg'. He still completed the game. Dominic Blizzard was subbed off later in the second half against Luton with a hamstring injury.
Argyle's disappointing form continued with a 1-0 home defeat to Luton Town in which Argyle were plagued by injuries. In addition to Aaron Bentley's suspension, Argyle had eight players out injured as well as the return to Blackburn and Bristol City of Anthony O'Connor and Bobby Reid respectively. The greens were blighted further with the in game injuries of Lee Cox and Dominic Blizzard but it was a goal for Luton in the first half that decided the game, shortly after a Reuben Reid effort was disallowed for a push. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Mellor, Cox(Harvey), Lee, Blizzard(Thomas), Purrington, Reid, Alessandra. Subs: Bittner, Richards.
Argyle have signed midfield Ollie Lee on a loan spell from Birmingham City until February the 21st and will be in the squad for tomorrow's game against Luton. The 23 year old is the son of former England and Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee. Lee made his Birmingham debut against Argyle in August 2013 and will wear the number 21 for Argyle.
John Sheridan has called upon the fringe players in his squad to stake a real claim for a first team opportunity with Argyle. Sheridan took consolation that Argyle were at least creating chances if not finishing them and at the same time called for his squad players to do more to put themselves in contention: "It is not through a lack of chances. We could easily be here having scored four or five more goals than we have. We created chances at Newport; created chances against Oxford and created chances last week. The only time we did not create anything was at York, so I am not getting carried away and beating myself up. We keep creating chances, and we should have scored goals because they were good chances, but we have not. As long as we are creating them, it is not too much of a problem in my eyes, but we need goals to win games.
"I have been trying my socks off. It is very frustrating. It is not through a lack of trying, so while we need one I will keep trying, and I keep getting knock-backs when we get that little bit of hope. I have been very close to getting one or two players. I only need one but it has not worked out, so I have just got to keep on, keep working hard and hopefully one will come our way and help us to win one or two games.
"While I am not getting anyone in," said Sheridan, "there is a chance for anyone who is attack-minded. Tyler Harvey is attack-minded, Nathan Thomas is attack-minded, Marvin Morgan is attack-minded. So while I have not got anyone in, they have got to have that belief that they might have a chance of playing. That is what I want the players to think. I have said many times that with the players who are not in the team, I expect them to be unhappy and not like their manager, because he is not picking me. That is just part and parcel of football. While I cannot get anyone in on loan at the moment, they have got to feel that right now is their chance, like Jason Banton. I threw him in last week I thought he did okay. It might be a case of he has to get a run of games. It is down to Jason. Anyone can tell me so or so was a good player when they were 17, but it is a different ball game now. They are in with the first team. While no-one is coming in, Tyler is a possibility. I know he can score a goal. I think I have got two of the best strikers in the division. I would like someone to just tell me who I am going to drop out of Reuben and Lewis. While those two are fit, I am happy."
"I do not just look at players scoring goals. I look their all-round performance: how they lead the line, how they regain possession, how they keep the ball, how they make recovery runs. I don't think anybody else watches that. That is what I watch, and that is what I need in my team. We have got a shape about us, and I think our shape is alright, so I look at other things.I watched every minute of the game. I was sat with someone who knows the game very well at that level. He was picking people out that he did not even know that well and saying: 'why is he not doing that?' I am saying 'that is why he is not in the team.' I did not have to tell him why they were not in the team, but he was picking them out before I even mentioned anything. People can look at look at other things, whatever they feel like, but I am the manager and I pick the team. I will stick to my guns and pick the team and players that I think are right.
"If you are a midfield player, go and play in midfield, not down the left wing or right wing. Get involved and be competitive, like Conor Hourihane was every day of the week. That is why he probably got his move. He had this attitude of 'I want to be good, and I want to be better'. That is why you are going to be successful as player. Be selfish as a player. I was selfish as a player. At the end of the day it is a team game, and I had a lot of good players around me, but I was selfish as a player; I always wanted to look after myself and be the best player, or try and be the best player. That is a mentality. That is why good players are good players, and that is why they play at the highest level. You have to work at it a lot harder at this level. I do not think any subs have really lit the game up, and this is not being harsh on the players I bring on – I understand it is difficult when you are bringing someone on for 10 or 15 minutes – but none of the subs have really excited me. They need to have that desire to come on and try and change the game, and I do not think any of them have done that when I have brought them on."
Anthony O'Connor has turned down the chance to join Argyle on a permanent basis. He does however, still hold hopes of joining Argyle on loan. John Sheridan today revealed how Argyle did agree a fee with Blackburn that was deemed acceptable to the Championship side yet the player himself does not want to commit to a permanent move at any club just yet. The Argyle manager said: "We have offered Anthony O'Connor a permanent deal, and Anthony O'Connor does not want to sign a permanent deal at any club. He wants to keep his options open. He was happy here, wants to stay here and really enjoys his football here. We have tried to get him on a permanent deal, so respect to the chairman; he was willing to pay the bit of money that Blackburn wanted, but it is Anthony's decision. He has gone back to Blackburn, and we will just try and sort a deal out to get him until the end of the season, on loan.
"If I felt we had to pay for a player, and I felt he would be a good addition to what we have got, then definitely we can pay a fee. It is nothing much, but the chairman is willing. I like Anthony as a player, but that is Anthony's decision to keep his options open. He is playing well and I hoping we have still got a chance of getting him. I am not going to let it drag on for too long. I'd like to think that is there is a chance, it will be done by next week.
"Nothing is dead and buried. I have said that all three of the loan players are very happy here, and were all very happy to stay here. It is not my decision – the respective clubs they are at, it is their decision. We are just working hard to get around the snags that are stopping us, and hopefully we can do something. If we cannot get them, we cannot get them, and I will look elsewhere and try and get someone else."
Jamie Richards has not ruled out the possibility of returning to Linfield on loan. Richards, who is out of contract with Argyle at the end of the season, today said to the Northern Irish media: "The gaffer (Feeney) has mentioned the possibility of me extending my loan deal here and it's something that might come about towards the end of the transfer window. For now I have just got to go back to Plymouth and find out what the future holds. I will just go back to training, get my head down, work hard and see what happens. Who knows, I might get to come back. I will just have to play it by ear and wait and see. It has been an absolute pleasure to play for a club like Linfield for six or seven months. I have had some really great memories and it was a great experience to play in the Europa League back in the summer. The players and staff have all been great to me and I have loved my time here. I honestly believe the team can go on and win the league and certainly that's what I will be hoping for the lads for the rest of the season. I will go back to Plymouth and see what they want me to do but I just want to wish all the lads here all the best for the rest of the season."
Tom Flanagan hopes that his loan at Plymouth Argyle will see him playing football on a regular basis. He described the circumstances of his arrival at the club and gave a positive assessment of his first game in the Argyle shirt: "I don't like sitting on the bench. That's the worst thing about being a footballer. Everyone says they get paid this, get paid that, work until 12pm and all that, but when it comes to Saturday and everyone else is on the pitch, working their nuts off, and I'm just sat there, watching, it's not fun – so get out and play games and progress my career. I've not played as much as I'd have liked at Milton Keynes. That's purely down to how well they have been doing – before I left, they were 13 games unbeaten, so it was tough to get in the team.
"Plymouth got in contact with Milton Keynes and showed an interest. I jumped at the opportunity, really. I had a couple of other offers but the way that Plymouth likes to play suits me so it was a good idea. I met with the boys on Friday night at the hotel – it was as quick as that. They don't tell you everything at football clubs but I'd been told. It's not that easy, but in a strange way, it's a little bit easier, being a defender because you see everything; whereas, maybe if I was a midfielder, I don't know what's going on behind me. It wasn't too bad; it was literally just getting myself through the game and trying to impress the manager and win the boys over – I've played with loan players before and, when they first walk in, you are a little bit sceptical because you don't know what they are going to be like. I had quite a lot to prove and I felt I did okay. I was a little bit tired towards the end but that's just lack of games – I'll be alright."
John Sheridan gave a mixed assessment of Argyle's goalless draw at Southend United yesterday. Whilst he noted that Argyle had some opportunities and were more professional, he still had some concerns about the team's ability to keep the ball. On the whole, he stated that a draw was a fair result: "It was entertaining for a 0-0 game. I think we have had some really good opportunities in the first half. Southend didn't really cause us any problems and it's just a shame we didn't get the goal. I thought we were quite lively on the break. They were tricky conditions as well. The pitch is really bobbly and there was also the wind. Both teams had a go and I think a draw was a fair result. It's a tough place to come to and they have got a decent record of late and are going well. We worked hard and the performance was a big improvement on last week at York. It was a good response from the players. That's two clean sheets in a row, which is a good habit, but we know the importance of trying to get three points. Southend haven't gained anything on us and we have just got to stick in there.
"We do still give the ball away too cheaply, in my opinion, because it will give you a problem. The opposition will cause you problems if you keep giving it away, but I thought we battled really hard to get something out of the game. That is the most pleasing thing. I just think we do make ourselves very vulnerable. Again, they are breaking when we are attacking – we just play the wrong pass or the wrong type of pass at the wrong time. We just did not get going in the second half – it was scrappy. We had the wind in the first half and sometimes that is an advantage. You could see that, and we just sat back a little bit deep and we did not get going on the ball. We give the ball away cheaply, and it ends up giving you a problem, because you are on the back foot when you are in possession.""I thought Andy Kellett was the best player on the pitch in the first half, then he barely got a kick in the second. I would like the players to see why we are affecting the game in the first half and what is causing them a problem, and it was mainly down Andy's side."
Sheridan also praised Jason Banton who was handed a rare start yesterday saying: "I went a bit more attacking and threw Jason in, and I think we caused them problems on the break, especially in the first half. He has been out of the side for a while now, so it is always difficult when you first come in, getting back to first-team football in a match situation, so I am pleased with the way he went about it."
The other player for whom Sheridan reserved particular praise was MK Dons loanee Tom Flanagan. He also revealed that he was a player who had been on his radar for quite some time: "He was very calm and collected and just settled in there. I was very pleased with the way he went about his game. I have always liked him. He has been in and out of the team at MK Dons, and we all know what good football they play. So I knew he would come in and be a good ball player. He's a good size and plays on the left side but he's good with both feet. I have asked Karl Robinson about him before. Unfortunately, he couldn't come because he was involved in the squad. I have had to cover myself because of the situation with Anthony and with Pete being out for a month. I'm very pleased the way he has come in and played in his first game."
Finally, he revealed that whilst Anthony O'Connor had gone back to Ewood Park for now following the culmination of his loan spell, he is still looking to bring him back to Home Park on a longer term basis. He added that he was just as keen to tie down Andy Kellett and Bobby Reid before the end of this January window. Sheridan said of his three loan stars: "I am okay with what I have got but I will be trying hard to sort everything out; I have been trying hard for the last two weeks, and I will keep trying until I get a yes or a no. It is still not out of the question that Bobby will return. I think Bobby just wants to keep his options open. I would not say that it is done and dusted that he is not coming back, if he is sat on his backside watching football today instead of playing. He could have been playing here, and we have got a big game this week, but I understand his position, and that is the trouble you can have with loan players when they are doing well. Other clubs get interested in them, or they go back to the club they are from – it is always a tricky one. I do not think it is a dead situation. I will keep it open, but I have got to look to see whether I need to strengthen in that area, and I will do that if I have to do it. Anthony will go back to Blackburn. They know the situation: we want to keep him and Anthony wants to stay, so it is really down to Blackburn. I will work to try and get him, and if it happens it happens. If it does not, I will just concentrate on who I am going to play. Again, we will just ask the question. Andy's loan deal is up next week, but we want all three of them to stay, so we are pushing to sort all of those deals out. If they do not happen, they do not happen, and I will just move on and try and fill those areas. I am still working on a striker. I thought I would have a striker today but it was not to be, and I am hoping I will have a striker next week. There are three strikers I have got in mind."
Argyle's second match of 2015 has also resulted in an away 0-0 draw- this time at Southend United. Both sides had their chances and the game was notable for the debut of Milton Keynes Dons loan defender Tom Flanagan who nearly netted a debut goal when his header hit the post in the second half. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Flanagan, Mellor, O'Connor, Cox, Banton(Blizzard), Kellett, Reid, Alessandra(Thomas). Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Harvey, Morgan, Norburn.
Northern Ireland under-21 international Tom Flanagan has joined Argyle on a month long loan until February 10th. The 23 year old from MK Dons has played over 50 times for his host club over the past four years and has also had loans at various League One, League Two and Conference clubs. He will wear the number 20 shirt whilst with Argyle.
John Sheridan is eager for Argyle to pick up more points on the road to ensure that they keep in the race for promotion. He placed emphasis on the need to be more ruthless, saying: "I want us to be a better team and consistently play well. Our home form has been very good, but with our away form: if we can pick up points and be a bit more ruthless, we possibly could have had more points. There is no point going back and talking about it. We have got to push on, because if we can pick up points away from home we know are strong at home, and confident of winning games at home. The more points we pick up away from home, the more it makes life a little bit easier."
Bobby Reid will not be returning to PAFC due to Bristol City manager Steve Cotterill's decision to recall Bobby to Ashton Gate. Cotterill was happy to let Bobby join Argyle on a loan until the end of the season but changed his mind when Chelsea recalled young player Todd Kane from the Robins. Cotterill however did not rule out a return to Argyle for Bobby depending on their January business. He said: "There is a chance that Bobby could end up staying with us for the duration of this month. It is something I will probably assess in the final week of January and, if it does not look as though Bobby is going to get games here, he could go back to Plymouth then."
When Sheridan spoke to Plymouth media on Thursday, he was at that point hopeful that Bobby would soon return, saying: "Steve has been very good regarding Bobby and I'm still confident we will get the right decision and he will come back, but that's not for me to shout about.
Additionally, he gave updates on the state of play regarding Anthony O'Connor and Andy Kellett on loan from Blackburn and Bolton respectively: Anthony wants to stay but, again, he's not my player. I spoke to Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer and they know I want to keep Anthony. It's purely the decision of his club. Andy is the same. We are trying to keep them until the end of the season. Hopefully, I will get the nod that they can come, but if I don't then I have got to look elsewhere and move on."
Finally, he confirmed that Jamie Richards would be returning to the club following Linfield's decision not to extend his loan deal there: "Jamie is going come to back. I don't think Linfield are going to do anything regarding him. Only a month or three weeks ago, Feeno was willing to take him, but I think they have picked up and got good results while Jamie has not been in the team and he has just had a change of mind."
Argyle supporters have voted to keep a striped home kit for the 2015/15 season. The winning design came home in first place with 57%; option A, featuring white pinstripes on a green background, garnered 30% of the vote, while the remaining 13% plumped for the all-green design of option B. The winning kit design can be seen in full on the official Argyle website.
John Sheridan was fuming with Argyle's reaction to York going down to ten men and, in a surprisingly explosive reaction to yesterday's game, apologised to the supporters for a 'pathetic' display. Sheridan put the blame firmly on his players, saying: "Firstly, I'll apologise to all the supporters for what I felt was a shocking performance. I never expected us to play like we did. There was just nothing about us. All game. York had more energy with ten men and they were the ones creating problems. They could have scored a couple of goals. Our performance was pathetic," he said. "Pathetic, pathetic – just the whole way we went about the game. I usually stick up for my players, but I'm not sticking up for them today. I'll get the blame. Everyone can blame me, but I don't kick the ball; I don't throw the ball; I don't pass the ball; I don't try and kick it 70 yards and pick a pass out when I can play five yards. They're the decisions that they have to make on the pitch. The manager doesn't do that. I picked my strongest team today – the team everyone was telling me was the team to go and get promotion – so anyone who has a go at me, I won't accept it. It's down to the players today. I don't think I've ever had a go at my players. They can't pick and choose when to play. They had an opportunity there – 70 minutes against 10 men. We haven't lost the game, but the desire York showed to win the game with 10 men was a lot more than us and their decision-making was a lot better than ours. Today was a shambolic performance, and full credit to York – they should have won the game 2-0 or 3-0. I just don't understand why we've played like that. I've praised us a lot and I've said we've been playing well but we just didn't penetrate; we didn't move the ball; and we didn't cause York any problems. The biggest downer was that they kept nearly scoring. We're taking corners and are in an attacking area and they end up breaking and getting corners and Luke McCormick's making saves. What's that all about? Please tell me."
Sheridan also confirmed that Peter Hartley suffered a re-occurrence of the injury that kept him out for the Christmas period: "It's re-occurred. We wanted Nelse and Pete back after the last couple of results but the tempo of the game probably just caught up with Pete. We'll just have to assess him and see how he is."
Luke McCormick echoed Sheridan's words and agreed that the players deserved nothing less than criticism at such a poor performance. He also looked ahead to the big month to come and hoped that Argyle would pick themselves up: "I was surprised, to be honest. Very surprised. I think there was only one thing I had to do in the first half, but the second half was the biggest surprise. I think we were so focused on pushing forward for the goal that the back door was left open a little bit. I think we feel bad enough now, drawing the game. If they had scored it would have been something else. It's a tough one to take, it really is. "Rightly so, with the gaffer and how he feels. We were not good enough, to a man, as a team. His frustrations came out at half-time and after the game, and I think it is completely justified. We've got to stand up and say we weren't good enough today. If we are going to acheive anything, we've got to be better than that. Although we lost the two games previous to today, the gaffer was quite open with his praise on how we played. That certainly wouldn't have been justified today. I think a kick up the backside is what we all needed - let's hope we see the character come out of a few of us for the next few games. We have a big month coming up," said Luke. "It is vitally important we don't dwell on this. There is a lot of football to be played, and some big games coming up. On the whole, you can't hide your disappointment. It feels like a real bad one today. It happens in football. You have to take the rough with the smooth. We'll pick ourselves up, go again - it's a big game next week against Southend."
Finally, Sheridan gave an update of the situation for those players who he has had on loan so far this season and his hopes of re-signing them:"Bobby's been really good for us; it wasn't one of his good games – that's why I took him off. He's been excellent for me. I want to keep Bobby; I've told Bobby I want to keep him – it's down to Bobby now and we'll just wait and see. I've spoken about Anthony and Andy – their clubs know I want to keep them; hopefully, I can. I'm speaking to one or two clubs," he said. "Hopefully we can try and get one in for next week. We've enquired about him; again, it's just down to the club now. I think we need one or two players to come in and give us a lift. Today's performance gives me a selection problem; because of the way some of them played today, I might have to make one or two changes for the tough game at Southend. We've still got plenty of time to get where we want to be but we cannot go out with the manner of performance today for a team that is trying to get in the play-offs, or even out of the league."
Argyle have drawn 0-0 with York City in the greens first match of 2015. What would otherwise have been considered a good away point was diminished by the fact that Argyle were playing against ten men for the majority of the match. The performance warranted an explosive reaction from John Sheridan in his post-match interview. Argyle: McCormick, Nelson, McHugh, Hartley(Norburn), Mellor, Cox, Bobby Reid(Banton), O'Connor, Kellett, Reuben Reid, Alessandra(Morgan). Subs: Bittner, Purrington, Blizzard, Thomas.
Ollie Norburn has spoken reflectively about his spell at Argyle thus far. The former Bristol Rovers midfielder noted that, whilst he understood being left out of the team earlier in the season with such a raft of quality central midfielders competing for places, he was back in the team to stay: "It's been a slow start for me, but I want to kick on. I started off alright, but I drifted out of the team and the team went on a run – the lads that have started have done well – but I have always been happy to fight for my place. We have got a lot of good players here. I'm happy here. Obviously I would have liked to have played more games, but that doesn't seem to have happened. From now until the end of the season, from a personal point of view, I would like to get more games in and get some good results for the team. Players that the gaffer picks are the best 11 that he feels he can put out there at the time. There are a lot of players who haven't been playing, and haven't been involved, who feel that they have got the ability to be involved, but that hasn't been the case. But all the lads are good, we're all together. Whoever is not playing will hope that whoever is playing does well and gets the result for the team. I've come into the team and it's down to me to play well and give good performances. The most important thing is getting results; we want to be up there. As a personal point of view, I want to stay in the team – I hope to stay in the team – but the main thing is for Plymouth to be up there at the end of the season. For me, Bobby's been class. That's the type of player I want to be playing alongside because I feel he's got a lot of ability. There are a lot of players here with a lot of ability. As a squad, we have got good players: Dom's been injured; Coxy's been playing well; Anthony can play in the middle. I want to stay in the team – of course I do – and it's down to me, now, to perform."
John Sheridan has picked out midfielder Lee Cox for special praise. Midfielder Cox has been in and out of the team all season but the manager has noted a definite improvement, saying: "He's probably been our best player. I think he's picked up and his game has picked up, and I've told him that. I thought he was outstanding on against Oxford Sunday; he did very well at Northampton; and against Dagenham; I thought he was probably our best player at Newport. Coxy does the things that Bobby doesn't do and he does the things that allow Bobby to do the things he wants to do. They are different players: you want Bobby in a more attacking role and he can cause problems with what he's got; Coxy just does the so-called ugly things and he's doing them really well at the moment – picking up second balls and starting us playing again. For the last three or four weeks, he's done that really well. He has settled in the team now; he feels as if he's going to be playing, which is a good thing. He's done really well."
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