Stag Hunt

MANSFIELD Town may still be battling against relegation, but John Sheridan is fully aware of the threat the Stags will pose to his Argyle side.

The Pilgrims will go into this weekend’s fixture against the Stags fully expecting to re-ignite their push for the Sky Bet League 2 play-offs with a victory, and Sheridan is hoping they take inspiration from the positive aspects of recent games against Burton Albion and Portsmouth. 

“I felt we did okay at Portsmouth and I felt we did okay in the second half at home against Burton,” said John. “I don’t care what anyone else says; I felt we created chances at Portsmouth and, unfortunately, we didn’t get anything. We have just got to stay focused.

“That’s probably been the most frustrating thing this season: I don’t really know what I’m going to get from my team. I know on our day we’re as good as anyone in the division.”

Sitting in 20th place and six points above the relegation zone, Mansfield will certainly have their own motivation and incentive to succeed when they visit Home Park, and the boss is not underestimating the danger the Stags could possess. 

“Like any team in this league: if they’re a professional team they’ll come here with a bit of pride,” said John. “They’re still probably involved at the wrong end of the table and I’m sure the manager will be getting them up for the game, trying to get a result. 

“They are a big, strong team and organised. They did well against Shrewsbury and were unfortunate not to get a result so I always expect a tough game, whoever we’re playing. 

“I’ve said all along that they could get results, and they’ve had good results this season, so with them fighting for points it will make the game difficult. 

“All the teams at the bottom are fighting for something; everyone’s involved in something.”

Whilst captain Curtis Nelson will be unavailable for the game after being sent off towards the end of their Easter Monday clash with Pompey, Argyle’s plentiful possibilities in personnel look set to be bolstered further by Anthony O’Connor, who is expected to be fit for selection after missing the last two games through injury.

“He’s trained this morning," said John, on Thursday, "and we’ll just assess him again tomorrow, but hopefully he will be fit.

“I’ve had 22 players training this morning. Smalley’s the only long-term injury but everyone else is fit.

“[Anthony] can fill in there [for Curtis]. Rodders [Aaron Bentley] is back in the fold and I even think Kelvin Mellor could play there. Obviously Anthony’s the prime person to go in there, but we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”