A LITTLE under two weeks ago, Joe Riley trudged off the Wembley pitch, beaten.
He had come on to the park as a 73rd minute substitute as his Shrewsbury side took Rotherham United to extra time in the Sky Bet League One play-off final. However, it was the Millers who won, and went on their merry way. The reward for Riley’s efforts was dejection, then a P45, as Shrewsbury released him.
This, though, is not a sad story. Derek Adams is a man who kept his defeated play-off final team on the pitch and watched Wimbledon celebrate their victory on the same Wembley turf, in 2016. A year later Argyle went up.
So, Joe, you may have picked the right guy to follow.
Riley becomes Adams’ fourth signing of a suddenly busy summer, filling a right-back role vacated by Gary Miller and Oscar Threlkeld’s departures.
Joe began at Threlkeld’s old stomping ground of Bolton, making his breakthrough with regular cup appearances, and a trio of Premier League games, including at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
His Bolton career, unfortunately, was littered with injuries, and after the best part of two years out, he was loaned out to Oxford to gain some experience. Bury took note, and took Joe to Gigg Lane on a permanent basis for a season and a half, where he played over 50 games for the Shakers, and gained promotion from League One.
Shrewsbury were the next to note Riley’s right-back performances, and signed him for an undisclosed fee. Somehow, despite separate injuries to his knee, hamstring and wrist, he managed 35 games in 2016-17.
However, he damaged ankle ligaments and broke his fibula in the final game of the season, and although he got fit quickly, he found himself behind fellow full-back James Bolton in the pecking order, and played just 20 times last term.
Adams, though, not only has form at picking up players from disappointment and play-off heartache, but patching up those with sketchy injury histories.