Needs Must

OXFORD United are the visitors to Home Park this Saturday in a game that manager John Sheridan has labelled as a “must win”.

The U’s, who are one place and one point better off than the Pilgrims in the league, travel to Devon on the back of three straight defeats to Fleetwood, Dagenham & Redbridge and Southend, without scoring a goal.

Both Oxford and Argyle will believe that a win in this weekend’s Sky Bet League 2 match will put extra pressure on York and Southend who currently hold the final two play-off places.

Argyle have seen their promotion chasing form hit a dip in recent weeks, with a draw at Accrington followed by losses to both Exeter and Burton.

However, Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over Newport County saw the Greens reignite their aspirations to finish in the league’s top seven, which pleased manager John Sheridan.

“Full credit to the players, who bounced back after the disappointment of the previous three games,” he said.

“We've got to try and go on our best run of the season and we’re going to try and do that.”

A huge plus point for Sheridan from the win in South Wales on Tuesday night – on top of the result - was the fact that teenagers Tyler Harvey and Nathan Thomas, who were given their first starts of the season, repaid the faith the manager had placed in them.

19-year-old Thomas crossed from the left hand side for 18-year-old Harvey to head the Greens into the lead.

It was the performance of Plymouth-born striker-turned-midfielder, Harvey that caught the eye and Sheridan believes that the youngster can flourish in the new role given to him.

John said: “He’s still learning. I know he’ll always get in areas, in and around the box and usually when he is in those areas he’s a good finisher.

“It was a great goal the other night but I’d like him to just believe in himself a little bit more on the ball because he is a good passer and he does take care of the ball.

“It’s a new position for him but I really think he’s got the capabilities to play in there and hopefully he’ll prove me right.”

Lewis Alessandra, who has been out for the past four games following an injury picked up during the 2-1 home win over Chesterfield, is expected to be in the squad for the game on Saturday, which will kick off at 3.07pm to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

“Lewi will be in the squad,” said the manager.

“He’s trained all this week and looks a bit fresher and brighter; he’ll be pushing for a place in the team.”

If the Pilgrims were to come away with a victory from this weekend’s clash, then it would be the first time Argyle have done a league double over Oxford in 25 years, having won the encounter on Boxing Day 3-2 at the Kassam Stadium.

However John has stressed the fact that the players must stay focused despite Gary Waddock’s side’s recent poor form.

“We’ve had them watched - I’ve watched them myself on DVD’s - with the players they’ve got there I thought they would be in and around the top and they're still in a good position.

“He’ll [Waddock] be telling his players to still believe that they can get in the play-offs.”