EXETER-BORN Ben Purrington is set for his first EFL start against his hometown club in Saturday’s 104th Devon Expressway Derby.
The 20-year-old defender has been a key component of the Pilgrims’ defence since coming on as a half-time substitute for Gary Sawyer in the 1-0 win at Blackpool four games ago, two matches into Argyle’s decade-best streak of six successive wins.
With Gary, whose early career included two long-term loans with Exeter, struggling with injury, Ben is favourite to continue in the left-back slot at St James Park.
It will be the first time he has faced Exeter on their own patch in a league match, although he was part of the Pilgrims’ side that triumphed 2-0 in last season’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Home Park.
“Ben has come in and acquitted himself well,” said Argyle manager Derek Adams.
“It’s not easy, taking over from an experienced player. Ben has played in midfield and at left-back for me; he’s come through the Academy, which is great; and has played 45 games now.
“He’s still got a bit to learn, but that experience of playing, week in, week out, in the first team is benefiting him.
“Gary has had an injection and he is probably a couple of weeks away from being fit. He has got a stomach injury, a slight strain in there. He has got to take his time and get himself back as quickly as possible – it is still a wee bit sore.”
Fellow defender, and fellow Gary, Miller of that ilk, has shown no ill effects after the injury which forced his substitution in last Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Cambridge United.
“He took a bang to the head and I took him off at half-time just to prevent the bang getting any worse,” said Derek. “It was just a precaution. He’s trained yesterday and today.
Centre-back Karleigh Osborne, the only one of Argyle’s 16 summer signings not to have made his first-team debut following a thigh injury sustained in pre-season, is also in training and stepping up his match-time with the Pilgrims’ Carlsberg South West Peninsula League side.
“He’s getting on well,” said Derek. “He’s played three games in a week, and he’s built up from 45 minutes to 60 to 80. He’s had no recurrence of the injury. He’ll still need probably another four or five games before he can look at pushing to be in the squad. We’re happy with that.”
Ryan Brunt, who has been hors de combat since March after damaging his knee ligament at Barnet, had a cartilage operation last week which will delay his return a little.
Derek said: “It’s probably hindered him by about two or three weeks. He had a repaired cartilage when he had his cruciate ligament operation and the repair didn’t take, so he had to get the cartilage partially taken out.
“It’s not too bad. He’s still on good track. It just set him back a wee bit.”