ARGYLE’S Christmas week is more about three points from their Boxing Day game at Sky Bet League 2 leaders Oxford United than three kings.......although they will be traversing afar before their 2014 opener at home to Torquay United.
A trip to Kingston to play AFC Wimbledon on Sunday follows what Chris Wilder’s U’s have been billing as “the Big Match” – hoping for a five-figure crowd – for several weeks now.
Argyle’s away-day double-header comes after a settling 2-1 home win over Bury last weekend and manager John Sheridan said: “Christmas and New Year is a most important period and we have got off to a good start with three points at home.
“We have probably played better and not got anything from previous games against Chesterfield and Burton, but I think we deserved to win. The three points will stand us in very good stead for what will be a very tough game against Oxford.
“It is a game which we’re going to try to win. I know they are going very well and they will look at it, with them being at home, as a game they can win. I know Chris very well and he knows they will get a tough game from us. It will be a good game for us to play in; it will test us.
“I think we are getting more consistency in our game. We need to win games if we are going to push up to the teams above us.
“They are top for a reason. They have got a bit of belief. They think they are going to win games. That’s a good thing to have.”
The home side have laid down the gauntlet to the Green Army by engaging local talent Laurence Robinson to perform, staging a fireworks display, and handing out 5,000 yellow flags to turn the Kassam Stadium yellow.
“When you are a player, you want to play in games where there is an atmosphere,” said John. “Playing in front of 10,000 is good for this standard. With them being top of the league, they will be favourites to win, but, believe me, we are going there to win the game ourselves.”
Skipper Conor Hourihane is available for Oxford after serving a one-match suspension, and on-loan winger Tope Obadeyi has recovered from a hamstring problem. On the debit side, Durrell Berry is banned, which means a call-up for youth-team skipper Ben Purrington.
John said: “Conor will come into the squad; Tope as well – he is available and fully fit now. Young Ben Purrington will be in the squad.
“Whether I throw Conor straight back in; whether I throw Tope in, with his pace, is something I will decide. We’ll work on it and I’ll sleep on it.
“I am comfortable, whoever I put in the team. The squad is strong at the moment. My only thought in my head is to try to pick the team that will win us the next game.
“Full credit to the players. They are the ones who won us the game on Saturday and, I’ve said before, whoever comes in and gets a starting place should try and play well enough to stay in the team.
“This is when you do need a squad, with games coming thick and fast. We have got five games in two weeks or so. Whoever I pick and put out to play will hopefully perform well and get us the results we are after.”