Hamza Bencherif handed Football League lifeline by Plymouth Argyle
HAMZA BENCHERIF has been handed a Football League lifeline by Argyle manager John Sheridan.
The Algerian midfielder, 25, has signed a short-term contract until January after a trial with the Pilgrims.
Bencherif was registered in time to be eligible to play for Argyle in their Johnstone's Paint Trophy first round tie against Cheltenham Town at Whaddon Road tonight.
He will add to Sheridan's options in central midfield, which also include captain Conor Hourihane, summer signing Dominic Blizzard and Pilgrims' youth product Luke Young.
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Bencherif was released by Notts County in May after spending two seasons at Meadow Lane, during which time he made 40 appearances, including 21 starts, and scored two goals.
He had trials with League Two clubs Chesterfield and Mansfield Town in July but was not offered a deal by either of them.
Bencherif impressed Chesterfield manager Paul Cook but he was reportedly not in a financial position to add him to his personnel at the Proact Stadium.
The former Algerian under-20 international travelled to Plymouth last Monday and played for 78 minutes of an Argyle XI's 2-1 defeat by Bristol City's development squad at Home Park the following afternoon.
Although he was clearly some way short of being in peak physical condition, the 6ft 3in midfielder had a good game overall.
Bencherif went close to scoring on a couple of occasions, getting on the end of crosses with late runs into the penalty area.
He spent the rest of the week training with the Pilgrims before putting pen to paper on his short-term contract yesterday.
It is bound to take a while for Bencherif to catch up with the fitness levels of the rest of his new team-mates, who have a full pre-season behind them.
That will probably involve him spending a lot of time with Argyle's performance manager John Harbin.
The JPT tie against Cheltenham is a chance to get some much-needed match practice for Bencherif so it would be a surprise if he was not involved at some stage, either in the starting line-up or off the bench.
Bencherif has the potential to be a goalscoring midfielder, which is an asset for any team.
After being released by Nottingham Forest in 2009, he moved to Macclesfield Town and during a couple of seasons with them in League Two he scored 16 goals in 60 games.
A repeat of that sort of record would be perfect for Sheridan as he tries to add more attacking potency to his team. Bencherif will wear the number 20 shirt for Argyle and his short-term contract takes him up to the Devon derby against Torquay United at Home Park on January 1.
That is a period of 19 games in League Two and should give him the opportunity to prove to Sheridan he deserves a longer-term deal.
Sheridan was not at Home Park yesterday and, therefore, there was no pre-match media conference for the JPT tie at Cheltenham.
Bencherif was also unavailable for comment when Herald Sport asked to talk to the midfielder.