Opportunity Knocks

ARGYLE boss Derek Adams says that competition can help his team and raise the performance levels within the squad...

...as his side face Oxford just three days after the home victory over Accrington.

With Argyle unbeaten in seven league games and firing on all cylinders, it has been difficult for Derek to make many changes to a team whose faults have been few and far between. There is competition for places at Home Park, with several squad players chomping at the bit to get minutes on the pitch in an Argyle shirt.

Derek said: "You need that within your squad. You want to have competition for places. When you have got people pushing all over the pitch it increases your performance levels. If you know that there is somebody behind you and your place is not certain then that can help the team."

Argyle's success has meant that Craig Tanner has not perhaps started as many games as he would have liked, but he has impressed when called upon. Craig has made seven substitute appearances for Argyle, as well as five starts - two of which, have come in the recent absence of Graham Carey through injury. 

"It's difficult for him," said Derek. "He's up against the likes of Jake Jervis, Reuben Reid, Graham Carey and Gregg Wylde. It's difficult for him, but when he has come in he has done really well for us. He takes the ball all over the pitch and he has scored goals and created one as well. He picks up good positions and he can finish. He is very good with his left or his right foot."

Oscar Threlkeld is another loan-signing that is hopeful of more first-team football, after making just three substitute appearances for Argyle since his arrival. The last of those came against Barnet in Argyle's 2-1 win.

"He just has to wait until he gets that opportunity." Derek said. "He is a very good player, he has got a high calibre, playing at Bolton. He played in the Championship and his opportunity has not come yet, but he is ready and waiting for that opportunity whenever it comes."

An opportunity for someone may come should Reuben Reid not be fit in time for Tuesday's game. Reuben went down with a hip injury in the second-half against Accrington, and will be assessed before the trip to Oxford.

"We are just assessing him today and seeing how he is this morning," said Derek, "then we will assess him before tomorrow night. He has scored very good goals for us against Notts County and on Saturday and Accrington. He has done well over a number of weeks now."

Graham Carey is still recovering from a knee injury, despite getting 45 minutes on the pitch against Accrington. Graham replaced Craig at half-time against Accrington, and delivered the free-kick that eventually lead to Reuben's winner.

Derek said of Graham: "He is improving; he is getting there. He is just working his way back and we are hopeful of having him back sooner rather than later. He is an important player for us; he's shown that in the games. He has created openings and he has scored goals. The sooner we can get him back to 100 percent the better."