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Pilgrims ready to sacrifice style for success as safety becomes a priority

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 16, 2013

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Plymouth Argyle manager John Sheridan is ready to sacrifice style for substance as the Pilgrims fight for Football League safety.

Sheridan arrived at Home Park last month with a reputation for his teams playing attacking, attractive football.

By his own admission, the Pilgrims have not come close to that in his first four matches as boss.

However, Argyle have been unbeaten in those games – picking up eight points out of a possible 12 – and, given their lowly position of 20th in npower League Two, he is taking a pragmatic approach.

Sheridan said: "I think there is a lot more improvement in this team. I do like to play attractive football but, where we are and what's at stake, sometimes you have to sacrifice it.

"That's what I will settle for if we are going to get the points and keep working as hard as we have done because we seem to be getting our rewards. But everyone knows I would like us to play better and I'm trying to preach that to the players. Hopefully, it will come.

"I think we are improving a little bit. The new players are still bedding in and training hasn't been ideal with the weather.

"The training ground [at Harper's Park] isn't the way I would like it so it makes things difficult, but we are working the best we can.

"We know our ball retention has got to be a lot better. I would like us to improve on that."

Argyle are two points outside the relegation zone after their 2-1 win at Aldershot Town last Saturday.

Sheridan expects there to be plenty of twists and turns between now and the end of the season on April 27. He said: "I think it's going to go right to the wire. I really do. Teams are going to get drawn into it, hopefully.

"We are going to lose some games before the end of the season, but we are going alright at the moment.

"We have just got to keep picking points up from games and then everything will take care of itself.

"I have got a points tally in my head which I think will see us safe.

"I have also got a points tally which I would like to get from each month. I'm not going to say what they are.

"It might be the kiss of death so I will just keep that in my head. My staff know but the players don't. I think it will keep us safe."

Argyle will try to build on their recent improved results when they take on Oxford United at Home Park today.

United have not won any of their last five league games, picking up only one point in the process.

However, Sheridan saw Oxford in action on Tuesday when they lost 2-1 at home to Fleetwood Town and believes they are a better side than their recent record suggests.

Sheridan said: "I watched them the other night. They lost the game but have still got very dangerous players, attacking-wise, so we have got to be respectful of that.

"We know it will be a very tough game. On their day, they are probably one of the better sides in the division, in my eyes anyway."

Goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin and defender Curtis Nelson are still ruled out by hamstring and groin injuries respectively. Striker Nick Chadwick will also serve the fifth out of a six-match suspension today.

Midfielder Paul Wotton can move into equal third in the all-time Argyle appearance list by playing against Oxford.

Wotton was recalled to the starting line-up for his 466th game in the vital victory over Aldershot. The 35-year-old played the midfield holding role in a 4-1-4-1 formation, but Wotton could be back on the substitutes' bench should Sheridan decide to play 4-4-2 against Oxford.

Sheridan said: "I'm not one who gives my team away and my formations before a game.

"Wotts came in and did very well last week. I went with my instincts and I thought it was a game where he could help us out. He's a good talker.

"This is a different game. We are at home and whatever team I put out it will be one which will try to get us a win."

Plymouth Argyle (from): Cole, Chenoweth; Berry, Branston, Charles, Blanchard, Bhasera, Lowry, Cox, Hourihane, Wotton, Young, Gurrieri, Cowan-Hall, Murray, Ugwu, Banton, Reid, Harvey, Lecointe, Vassell, Richards.

Unavailable: Chadwick (suspended), Nelson (groin), Feeney (ankle), Gilmartin (hamstring).

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