CONSISTENT team selection could be the key to Argyle moving up the table as we travel to New Meadow tonight for a meeting with Shrewsbury Town in Sky Bet League One.
Argyle manager Derek Adams believes we are starting to see the benefits of a steady side, having won four of the last six games at Home Park, in the last of which, Freddie Ladapo, a one-time Shrewsbury loanee, bagged his third double in four home matches and his tenth goal of the season.
That late pair of goals gave the Pilgrims a 2-1 victory over Fleetwood Town at Home Park, where the starting line-up saw only the second change in the last five league games, with Ruben Lameiras replacing the suspended Graham Carey.
“We’ve had a consistent team for a number of weeks now,” said Derek. “We’ve had one in and one out, and they have been able to replicate the other person’s performance.”
If Derek has a selection headache over whether and how to include Carey in his opening 11 in Shropshire, he reported an otherwise clean bill of health for the Pilgrims’ last scheduled midweek league evening fixture until next March.
Reports over Jamie Ness’ eligibility after being yellow-carded on Saturday were inaccurate. The booking, which came in the final game before the EFL’s mid-season amnesty, was only his fourth in League One games, one short of the five that leads to an automatic suspension.
He was also shown two yellows at Coventry, leading to a sending-off that saw him serve a suspension. Players cannot be penalised twice for the same offence.
“We’re delighted Jamie Ness is available,” said Derek. “He has had bookings and was sent off in the league, but he’s fine to play.”
His inclusion will be a welcome one for the boss as he scored his first Argyle goal in the 2-1 win at New Meadow in February last season.
As well as Freddie, two other Pilgrims will be on familiar territory. Antoni Sarcevic will come up against a former team for the second time in four days, while Joe Riley’s comeback from a long-term injury saw him make a late substitute appearance against Fleetwood.
A player’s history has no bearing on Derek’s thinking about who he will select on Tuesday.
He said: “That does not have any influence on my team selection. Joe Riley isn’t 100%, he’s been out for a good period of time, but I do feel it’s important we get our injured players back as quickly as possible.
“He has been out since the middle of September, which is a long time. He is a player that gives us experience.”
Last season, Shrewsbury topped the table for large parts of the season, only to fall at the final hurdle.
Having progressed to League One in 2014-15, the Shrews were unfortunate not to gain automatic promotion into the Championship. In the end, Rotherham United beat them 2-1 in the play-off final, where Joe Riley was a 73rd-minute substitute.
Derek said: “You could look at it as a one-off season – sometimes that happens. They had a very good run at it; they got to the play-off final and didn’t get through. They’ll be looking to replicate that but it’s not as easy as everybody thinks it is.
“It’s about consistency at any football club. Shrewsbury have had that over a number of seasons now, they got out of League Two into League One and were in a consistent run of form.”