ARGYLE manager Derek Adams does not believe that Saturday’s Dockyard Derby will be any more a test of the Pilgrims’ promotion credentials than other games they have played this season.
The Greens go into their home clash with old Royal Naval rivals Portsmouth on an unbeaten 10-game run in Sky Bet League Two that has taken them five points clear at the top of the table.
Of all their divisional rivals, it is Pompey who have similar status, aspirations and expectations to win promotion and re-establish a famous club in the higher echelons of the EFL.
While the atmosphere at Home Park will be febrile, and the pace of the game frenetic, Argyle have already had their mettle examined in their opening 12 matches and Derek believes that have rarely been found wanting.
“We started the season really well and been able to pick up a lot of points very early in the season,” he said. “It’s important that you do that.
“We’ve had tough tests. We’ve had to go away from home to the likes of Notts County and Leyton Orient, so we have had tough tests already this season.
“It’s a big test but every game, on a weekly basis, is exactly the same. It’s a difficult league; it’s a harder league than it was last year; it’s more competitive. It’s going to be another good season for League Two fans.”
Arnold Garita has failed to pass muster, heading a small injury-list.
“He’s out for Saturday’s game, but progressing well,” said Derek. “Gary Sawyer has had his operation on Tuesday; Oscar Threlkeld has still got a knee injury from the Wimbledon game; and Ryan Brunt is long-term.”
The injury to Gary has opened the door for Ben Purrington, and Derek said: “He has performed very well for us since he has come in and been able to play a number of games on the trot. At his age, that is very important.”
The way that Argyle have coped with their injuries has vindicated Derek’s extensive summer recruitment as the depth of Argyle’s strength has not been found wanting under new transfer rules.
“It’s a good thing that clubs have their pool of players from transfer-window to transfer-window,” said Derek.
“It’s important that you are able to coach the players that you have and teams are not allowed to go and get players from other teams and get favours from other managers. That’s what happened in the past and why people were able to strengthen. That’s not the case this season.”