A MEASURE of the injury whirlwind which has blown through Home Park could be realised by looking at the substitutes’ bench which started Saturday’s 2-2 Home Park draw against Oxford United.
The six – already one short – players on it had made 34 Argyle career starts between then – and Craig Tanner, who scored the second equaliser against the Pilgrims Sky Bet League 2 promotion rivals accounted for 23 of those. Sixteen-year-old Jordon Bentley was whistled up from the apprentice ranks to sit alongside Tyler Harvey, who had been out injured for several weeks.
Argyle began the match without Carl McHugh, Ryan Brunt, Oscar Threlkeld, Jordon Forster, Deane Smalley and Callum Hall, and ended it with Peter Hartley on that long list after he hobbled off at half-time.
Ben Purrington started his first league game of the season in central midfield and ended it at left-back; Gary Sawyer started at left-back and ended playing his first league game of the season at centre-back, in a back four that showed three changes from the one that had begun at Barnet four days earlier.
So, then, plenty of justification for Argyle captain Curtis Nelson to put forward for Argyle’s failure to win?
He said: “You could easily say we had a chance to feel sorry for ourselves and say ‘That’s it’ but I think we have done really well to dig out a point, and we worked hard to do that.
“Obviously, we were missing quite a few players and we can use that as an excuse, but it was a good point – nothing lost, nothing gained.
“For me, personally, it is not great, losing your partner-in-crime, but Gaz stepped in, and Ben Purrington, and both did brilliantly, so you have got to give a hand to both of them.”
Nelse led by example, leveling Peter’s 12th-minute own goal after a quarter of an hour, and displaying the same character as his team-mates to come back and level Kemar Roofe’s first-half strike with Tanner’s header 15 minutes from time.
“We have shown that during the season, as well,” said Nelse. “There have been times when we’ve been behind, or [the opposition] have got an equaliser and we have shown character to come through; credit to the management team, the manager and the boys in the changing-room.
“It’s always difficult to see one of your team-mate’s injured but you have just got to wish them all the best for a speedy recovery.
“I’m gutted for all of them. Brunty’s looks quite a long injury which is really unfortunate because he was hitting form and scoring goals; he’s been doing really well. Obviously, Fozzie’s come in and done well, too. I think he’ll be back sooner, rather than later.
“We’ve shown today that people can come in and fill in; I have got to give credit to the manager and to the boys for having such a strong squad.
“It is not something we are going to necessarily worry about. It’s a shame, because you don’t want people injured, but hopefully we have one or two back next week against Accrington and we go again.
“It’s another big game. I think it’s important, as with every game, that we go to get three points.”