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McCall ready for Plymouth test

26 October 2018

Iron manager Stuart McCall is hoping for a return to winning ways when Plymouth Argyle visit Glanford Park on Saturday.

United enter the game on the back of a narrow 1-0 loss at Blackpool in midweek, which was the fourth in succession.

However, there were elements of the performance that encouraged McCall and he’s hoping to see his side put in a performance that can gain all three points this Saturday.

He told iFollow Iron: “It’s a chance to return to winning ways. We’ve had some disappointing results in the last four games – three of them away from home where we’ve lost by the odd goal and it could be argued that we probably should have taken a point out of each of them, but we’ve not.

“It’s time now to look forward, get back here and put in a strong performance against who I imagine would be a spirited Plymouth side. But no disrespect to them, it’s about how we go about our business. Tuesday was a really difficult game in the fact that it came straight after a defeat like we had on Saturday, which was probably in the hardest manner you can do being 2-0 up and then 2-2 against ten men with 10 minutes to go. To lose it to an individual error was tough to take, and it was a horrible journey coming back.

“To go to the in-form team in the league (Blackpool) and then lose a goal (after 19 minutes) was a real test of our character. We weren’t brilliant but we got what we asked for in terms of desire, character and sticking at it as a team. Because no matter what individuals you’ve got, if you’re not a team then you’ll never succeed. That’s the message we’re drilling into the lads and they’re taking it on board. 

“We’re all disappointed with recent results. You can look back at the last home game here against Peterborough where we were the best team in the first-half, had a couple of chances and should have been ahead, but we gave two silly goals away. We’ve got to eradicate the mistakes, which we did (on Tuesday). We didn’t give too many chances away to Blackpool and were strong defensively, but we now need to align that with good attacking football.

“You look at the stats and it’s the highest amount of ground we’ve covered. That’s what we need – a desire for each other and a work ethic. They showed that the other night and have to keep doing it.

“It’s our next chance to get three points and the players know what’s expected of them now – to go from the first minute to the last and get the result. We need everyone together to get these three points.”

Before the Peterborough game, United were picking up some form at Glanford Park and McCall is hoping for more of the same this weekend against the division’s 23rd-placed team. 

He said: “Bottom line is you want to win, but it’s nice to do it with a bit of style. You look at the game we had against Charlton here where we won 5-3 – if you could do that every week it would bring even more supporters through the turnstiles. Saturday is about winning. We need to get the three points and start moving back up the table. 

“Plymouth are in a position down near the bottom, where they were last season at this stage. They came to my ex-club Bradford City in December, were bottom of the league and had an unbelievable run. It might be a game where they sit in, defend and look to hit us on the counter. We have to cope and deal with that, making sure we don’t make any individual errors, but make sure we get at them and really put them under pressure because that’s what we need to do.

“It might be a similar game to Shrewsbury (which the Iron won 1-0) in that it’s one of few chances and opportunities if they come in and sit in. I’d imagine, on the back of their win on Tuesday night, they’d be coming here to look and hit us on the counter, which we’ve got to be aware of, but they’d also look at us as being fragile having lost four on the bounce. They will probably think it’s a good time to come and play us – we need to make sure it isn’t and never will be.”

In terms of injuries, Funso Ojo is likely to miss out after picking up a hamstring injury at Blackpool which will require a scan.

McCall said: “The other night, we had three of our most influential and experienced players out (Josh Morris, Matthew Lund and Lee Novak). Funso has gone for a scan (on Thursday) so I’d imagine he’ll certainly be out - so that’s four key players in a squad that isn’t blessed with great strength in depth. 

“Whoever goes out and gets that shirt has to make sure they play that well that they stay in the team. I always believe that if you get injuries you’ve got to make the best of it, and whoever comes in on Saturday has to put 100 per cent in.”

Novak is still expected to miss out with the calf problem that’s ruled him out of the last two matches. 

He said: “He’s done a little bit today and is still feeling it slightly, so we’ll see his reaction. I’m doubtful he’d be involved but we’ll look at it on Friday morning. I don’t think he’s done enough at this moment in time to come into consideration but there are 48 hours to go.”

Ike Ugbo is getting fitter by the day though and could be in line for a return to the starting eleven after two substitute appearances following his return from a hamstring injury.

“Ike’s looked sharp and he’d only been with us since last Thursday, having been out for three-and-a-half weeks, when he came on at Wycombe,” he stated. “We’ve seen more of him in training and know he’s there now and he’ll be raring to go.”

See much more from Stuart McCall, Jak Alnwick and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson on iFollow Iron. Click here to sign up.

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