THE long-term injury picked up by the luckless Deane Smalley is one that especially upsets John Sheridan.
The 26-year-old has struggled to shrug off injuries since joining Argyle over the summer break and has now been ruled out for the rest of the season after damaging the cruciate ligament and cartilage in his right knee during training.
It was, no less, in the final moments of the last training session before the FA Cup second-round tie at Sheffield United that Deane received his latest setback – just as Sheridan was set to offer him the biggest opportunity of his season so far.
“I do feel for him, because I was playing him at Sheffield United,” said the Argyle manager. “I was not playing Reuben [Reid].
“He played really well in the practice match – looked really sharp – and it was a crying shame for him. [The injury happened] in probably the last minute of training. It was innocuous; he has just gone for a ball.
“It is a real shame that he has got a bad injury. I am gutted for him. He has not had a lot of football, but I thought he was getting back and looking to be getting to where he should be. It is really unfortunate for him.”
Deane is now in the hands of Argyle physio Paul Atkinson.
“Paul took him to a specialist,” said John. “It is a bad injury, there is no denying it. He will not be involved in any football this season, and possibly even the start of next season.
“We just want him to get the best treatment and recover.”
Deane’s misfortune adds to the Pilgrims’ current injury-list, which includes Carl McHugh, Nathan Thomas and Marvin Morgan. However, the boss believes the squad he has at his disposal is still strong enough to achieve the right results.
He said: “I just concentrate on what we have got. We are probably a bit short at the moment, but I have got to believe we will get results, and I do.
“That is the way I get on with it. I very rarely make excuses over anything, and I do not want to make excuses.
“I feel as though we have got good enough players, and it gives an opportunity to those who think they should be in the team to force their way in.”