Play-off Times Chimes With Derek

ON Tuesday morning, Argyle learned the official dates and times on which they will meet Portsmouth in the Sky Bet League 2 Play-offs.

In just twelve days time, those games will be resolved. 

Derek Adams is not usually a man to look past the next game, but in case he has afforded himself an exception. Saturday’s final home fixture of the regular season, against Hartlepool, is not exactly a dead rubber; there are matters of pride and momentum to play for, as well as the chance to secure a home tie in the play-off second leg. 

That said, with a view to the first tie against Portsmouth, which will take place on Thursday, May 12, Derek may seek to rest a few players to have them in optimum condition to meet Pompey, especially given the logistical speed with which the play-offs will be negotiated. 

“I think that we will have two very good games,” said Derek, of the play-offs to come. “There will be sell-out crowds, home and away. Two very good footballing sides; both like to go and pass the ball about - we’re in for two very exciting games.

“You have the Friday and the Saturday to prepare to get ready for the Sunday game – and it’s the same for both teams. I understand the other teams (in the other semi-final) get a wee bit more rest than we do, but we just get on with it. 

“We’ll sit down and look at the recovery periods, between the Saturday game and the Thursday game, and go from there. 

“We won’t do too much different if it is home or away, other than travel the day before. 

“We’ll have to look at the injury situation [for Hartlepool]. We have to be careful if we have any injuries that are doubtful for the Saturday game – I wouldn’t really want to risk them before playing on Thursday.  

“We’ve got a number of injuries – we’ll assess them and put a squad together to try and win the match against Hartlepool. Obviously, we have a bigger fixture on the Thursday to look at as well, But we want to put on a good show on the Saturday before that.

“We want to win every game we are involved in. It is no different throughout the season. We have got to look forward to the two play-off games, but we need to try to win on Saturday to add to our points total. It maybe doesn’t matter it great scale of things, but as a manager and a player you want to gather the points.”

Josh Simpson is unlikely to feature again this season, whatever progress the Pilgrims make during May. An injury-plagued season for the midfielder seems set to end on a familiar note for the 29-year-old. 

Reuben Reid, who limped off at Leyton Orient on April 19, and has missed the last two fixtures, is more likely to appear, but it is still not certain that he will win his race to be fit for the play-offs’ first whistle. 

On the subject of Reid’s availability, Derek said: “I’m not sure as yet, I would be hopeful I can get him back for one of the game, possibly two. He is trying to get himself fit and prepared for these games. 

“I’ve been told it’s very unlikely that [Josh] will be available. He hasn’t trained at all – he’s had a setback – and it’s disappointing. He’s missed a lot of games this season with injury. 

“I wouldn’t have thought so. I had hoped he might be available for the first play-off game, but I’ve been told that might not be possible. Too many injuries have stop-started his season. When you’ve got a small squad – as we have – then it’s not something we need.”