"Bring it on". That is the defiant message coming out of Home Park as relegation-threatened and managerless Plymouth Argyle prepare to take on Port Vale in npower League Two today.
Second-placed Vale are a couple of points behind leaders Gillingham and in 21-goal striker Tom Pope they have the top marksman in the division by some distance.
Pope's tally is only eight less than the number of goals the Pilgrims have scored collectively this season. The odds would appear to be stacked against Argyle, but first-team coach Kevin Nancekivell is undeterred by that.
Nancekivell and assistant manager Romain Larrieu have taken temporary charge of first-team matters after the sacking of Carl Fletcher on New Year's Day.
"Bring it on," was the response of Nancekivell when the prospect of Argyle's tough trip to Vale Park was raised with him. "Port Vale are flying high at the minute," he said.
"They are a good team and the league table doesn't lie. They have got some match-winners and good players. But we have some good players ourselves and they have been very focused in training.
"They have a point to prove and they desperately want to put things right. They will be well-prepared, they will know their jobs and we will give it a good crack.
"We will put our stamp on the team, for sure, but we won't be making wholesale changes.
"It's a tight-knit squad and apart from the results, which obviously show in the league table, some of our performances have been OK. The whole squad will be pulling together as one."
Larrieu said: "We already know what the plan is going to be. There won't be major changes."
Pope has scored 21 of Vale's 50 League goals this season, but he relies a lot on the service from wide men Jennison Myrie-Williams and Ashley Vincent. Nancekivell said: "Pope is a threat and we are going to have to be aware of that, but they have other players apart from him that we know about. They are a good team but we don't want to under-estimate ourselves too much. We have some good players and I'm sure they will do us, and the club, proud.
"When the ball is rolling, you forget everything else that is going on. We will be looking to cocoon ourselves a little bit, and concentrate on what we have to do. We're looking forward to it, and let's see what Saturday brings."
Argyle will not only be without Fletcher at Vale Park but also midfielder Mark Molesley, who completed a loan spell from Bournemouth on New Year's Day.
Molesley made four starts and two substitute appearances during a short stint with the Pilgrims. Earlier this week, he tweeted: "Grateful for the opportunity and very proud to have had the chance to represent Argyle. Thanks for all the support."
Nancekivell said: "Mark has gone back. He did terrific for us and I would like to thank him for all his efforts in his time here."
Meanwhile, winger Joe Lennox and first-year professional Isaac Vassell have both been offered one-month contracts with Argyle until the end of January. That will keep them at the club while a successor for Fletcher is found, and the new manager will decide on their futures.
Nancekivell said: "We are hoping to get something sorted out with them so their contract is extended until the end of January. It gives the new man the chance to make his own mind up. It would not be fair of us to offer, or not offer, contracts at the minute."
Lennox has played 15 times this season, including six starts, and scored the equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Exeter City last month. Vassell has yet to feature for the first team this term, but made eight substitute appearances in 2011-12.
Plymouth Argyle (from): Gilmartin, Cole; Berry, Nelson, Blanchard, Bhasera, Williams, Lowry, Hourihane, Wotton, Young, Lennox, Gurrieri, Cowan-Hall, Feeney, Chadwick, Griffiths, Harvey, Lecointe, Richards.