Hart of the Defence

IT has not gone unnoticed that Argyle’s current four-game winning run has coincided exactly with defender Peter Hartley’s return to the Pilgrims’ starting line-up after injury.

His first week back saw Argyle win three times in eight days – 1-0 at home to Accrington; 2-0 at Wycombe; and 2-0 against Cambridge at Home Park – and that form was franked by last weekend’s 3-1 triumph at Exeter.

Bury roll up at Home Park on Saturday, behind Argyle in Sky Bet League 2 only on goal difference, aiming to stop the hot streak before the Pilgrims go to Hartley’s former club Stevenage on Tuesday.

However, Peter believes that the whole defensive unit, in which Anthony O’Connor screens the three central defenders –Peter, Curtis Nelson and Carl McHugh – can cope with most that any of their peers can muster.

“If we get us four together and fit, we look quite a hard team to break down,” he said. “We’ve proven that this season. We have just got to keep fresh and fit – and mentally fit, as well – for the last 14 games.

“We have just got to take it one game at a time now and try to have a week like we did with the Wycombe week, concentrate on ourselves, and keep winning.”

The wider defence has seen the introduction recently of wing-backs Drew Talbot and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, with the latter having seemingly achieved the impossible of slipping into the boots previously occupied by Andy Kellett.

With striker Ryan Brunt another new recruit, Peter believes manager John Sheridan’s eye for a player will stand the Pilgrims in good stead during the final 14 games of their campaign.
“He’s brought fresh faces in and they have been different class,” said Peter. “Brunty’s contribution on Saturday was unbelievable; Tareiq is a young boy who’s full of energy, very similar to Andy Kellett in my mind, although he’s more defensive minded because he’s more of a full-back than Andy.

“The gaffer can pick a player. He’s done really well in the loan market and we’ve brought some really good players in. The good thing is that they are down to earth and gelling in with the team really quickly. That helps us a lot because games come thick and fast.”