Opportunity Knocks

JOHN Sheridan had to make some late changes to his team selection for the match against AFC Fylde, as two players eager to break into the first team succumbed to injuries late in the week.

After impressing as substitutes last weekend against Burton Albion, both Deane Smalley and Jason Banton had forced their way into their manger’s first-team plans, but were denied the opportunity by picking up unfortunate knocks.

“Smalley was playing when I named my team yesterday,” said John. “He just woke up with a really bad neck and to be fair, he was struggling with it.

“He has been looking really sharp in training as well, and was really sharp yesterday.

“Jason Banton was down to play but did his knee at Burton, and had a couple of days off.”

"We planned and did all the set pieces with the team I was originally going to play with – with Smalley and Jason in the team.
“Carl (McHugh) was not going to play, and I was going to play a different formation; I was going to play a four (at the back).
“Obviously I had to juggle, and it was a chance for me to give on or two a bit of game time, but at the same time I wanted to win the game.”

The Pilgrims still prevailed thanks to goals from Peter Hartley and Marvin Morgan either side of half time, but Sheridan is keen to see fringe players have more chances to gain match fitness outside of first-team games.

“It is difficult for the ones who are not playing are not getting a lot of football, and I think you could clearly see that. They were getting tired towards the end.

“I speak to one or two of the young players, or players that were not in the first team, and they are playing two or three games a season, and I do not want that.

“Luckily, around the corner we have games coming up now, but I think with the ones who are not playing on a Saturday, you could see the lack of football.

At the forefront of those upcoming fixtures is a trip to the Ricoh Arena on Wednesday night to face Coventry City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Quarter-Final. Sheridan is keen to keep his side in as many competitions as possible, and will be doing everything he can to get a good result in midweek.

He said: “Coventry is a game that we are going to try and win, and I will play my strongest team.

“It is a chance to get in the next round, but we will have to play a lot better than we did today, but we are going to Coventry to win. It is a very important game.”