ARGYLE will go into their penultimate Sky Bet League 2 home game of 2016-17 with “all the confidence in the world”...
...and key midfielder Graham Carey firing on all cylinders and enjoying life in the Westcountry.
The Pilgrims’ playmaker, who this week was voted by League 2 managers as one of the top ten players in the division, set up four of Argyle’s five goals in their successive wins at Portsmouth, last Saturday, and Leyton Orient, on Tuesday.
The six-point double boosted the Pilgrims’ hopes of finishing the season in the automatic promotion places, with Saturday’s visit of already-relegated Dagenham & Redbridge the first of three games which will determine their destiny.
“It is just down to the players to deliver now,” said Graham. “We don’t want to be in League 2 next year, nor do the fans, nor the staff, nor anyone else. It’s up to us to get the job done.
“If we play the way we have in the last two games, with that fight and determination, it’s only going to be a positive and it’s up to us to go and win. The way we have performed, we have all the confidence in the world to go do that on Saturday.
“As a team, we’re all feeling good and in a good place mentally, as well, which is important after some of the defeats we have had. We’re feeling good, we’re feeling strong; hopefully we can kick on.
“The way we have been preparing for games is that the next one is the biggest game of the season and we’ll do that on Saturday.”
The successive wins on the road demonstrated that 26-year-old Graham is back to his match-influencing best after a mid-season injury – picked up, coincidentally, at Dagenham & Redbridge – interrupted his campaign.
“The timing of the injury wasn’t the best,” said Graham, who has either scored or assisted 21 of the Pilgrims 63 league goals this season.
“It was midway through the season and I was ready to kick on then. It was unfortunate and it’s taken a while to get back to full fitness because of the timing of it, but I feel better now than I ever have. I’m getting sharper and hopefully I can be more sharp on Saturday.”
Sharp mentally, too. Although blessed with vision and the talent to make the vision a reality, as well as a fondness for long-range goals, do not expect to see the full repertoire of Graham’s tricks in the final stages of matches in which the Pilgrims are ahead.
He said: “There are certain things you don’t do at points in the game. At the Portsmouth game, it was basically ‘get the ball into the corner and see the game through’ – because it was so late on, there was no reason to do anything different. At this stage of the season, it is important to do that. There is a time and a place for tricks and long shots, but, if you are winning in the 85th-90th minute, that’s not the time to do it.”
Before then, expect anything, with the blessing of the gaffer.
“The manager says to everyone ‘go out and express yourself’,” said Graham. “When we don’t have the ball, get into a shape and be hard to beat but, when once we have it, go and express ourselves, especially in the final third. He gives us the freedom to do whatever we want and, as players, we really appreciate that.”