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Fletcher counts on fitness telling against injury-hit Accrington

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 21, 2012

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Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher carried out a spying mission on tomorrow's opponents, Accrington Stanley, when they played in the FA Cup this week.

Accrington lost 2-0 away to Oxford United in a second-round replay on Tuesday, with Fletcher among those watching at the Kassam Stadium.

Not only did Stanley miss out on a third-round tie against Sheffield United, both of their centre-backs had to be substituted due to injuries.

Dean Winnard was replaced at half-time, suffering from concussion, while Peter Murphy was taken off later in the game with a hip problem. Both players are rated doubtful for the visit of Argyle to the Crown Ground.

Fletcher said: "I went up to see Accrington at Oxford. It was a good opportunity for me to watch them.

"It's very rare me, Ro [Romain Larrieu] or Nance [Kevin Nancekivell] get to see a team we are playing so close to the game."

Oxford scored both of their goals after Accrington had lost the services of Winnard and Murphy.

Fletcher said: "There was nothing in the game. It could have gone either way and they [Accrington] were unlucky with injuries."

While Accrington have had FA Cup commitments this week, Argyle have had no distractions before their visit to the Crown Ground.

Asked whether that would be an advantage for the Pilgrims, Fletcher replied: "Maybe, maybe not. You just have to wait and see. You can't really tell until the day of the game.

"Whatever side we put out, we have always got good energy and lots of legs.

"I think our fitness levels are really good at the minute."

Fletcher pointed to Argyle's 1-1 draw away to local rivals Exeter City last Saturday as an example of that.

The Pilgrims ended the game with only ten players after centre-back Maxime Blanchard was sent off in the 88th minute.

Fletcher said: "Even against Exeter with ten men, we still looked strong. We were able to cover the distances we needed to."

Argyle's only previous trip to the Crown Ground was in February this year, when they won 4-0 against Accrington, with loan signing Alex MacDonald getting two of the goals. Fletcher said: "We had a good result there last season.

"It brings back happy memories. Hopefully, we can go up there and put in a good performance and get a good result.

"It's a long journey for us but we have got to make sure we are fully prepared and ready to face a tough challenge.

"They have got a different manager to when we faced them last time.

"They play with a different formation and there is obviously different personnel.

"We will look forward to the game but we have got to be at our best to have a chance of getting a result," the Argyle boss concluded.

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