John Sheridan hoping for good news on Jason Banton
PLYMOUTH Argyle are hoping the thigh injury to on-loan Crystal Palace winger Jason Banton is not a serious one.
The 21-year-old limped out of the 1-1 draw at League Two relegation rivals AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday night, shortly after the half-hour mark.
Banton had put bottom-of-the-table Argyle into a 26th minute lead with an accurately-placed low shot after a swift counter attack.
It was only the Pilgrims' third goal in their last six matches, and Banton has grabbed them all.
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His initial one-month loan from Palace is set to end after the visit of Barnet, who are in 21st position in the table, to Home Park on Saturday.
Banton was proving to be a constant attacking threat until his early exit against Wimbledon.
Manager John Sheridan said: "He has picked up a bit of a thigh strain. Hopefully, he won't be out for too long.
"It's a shame because he's a massive threat. He took his goal brilliantly and he's a big player for us."
Banton's replacement in the 33rd minute of the match at Kingsmeadow was 18-year-old defender Jamie Richards, who made his Football League debut for Argyle.
Richards played at left-back with Onismor Bhasera moving into the midfield role which had been vacated by Banton.
Sheridan called upon Richards rather than continuing with Bhasera in defence and sending on Paris Cowan-Hall, Andres Gurrieri or Luke Young as a substitute.
Richards had made one previous appearance for the Pilgrims in a Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie.
Sheridan said: "It was difficult for Jamie because he has not played at left-back a lot but I thought he did all right.
"He's a steady player and he has done well in training. He's working hard to try to impress me and try to force his way into the team.
"I don't think he did anything wrong. The pace of the game caught up with him in the end, but he did okay."
Sheridan thought striker Reuben Reid had his best game for Argyle since starting his second spell at the Home Park club.
Reid's one-month loan from Yeovil Town ended on Tuesday night and Sheridan is having discussions about his future.
The 24-year-old set up Banton for his goal against Wimbledon and also had a couple of chances himself.
Sheridan said: "I will talk to Reuben and to his club. I thought that was probably his best game for us on Tuesday. He worked a lot harder.
"I had a chat with Reuben. For me, he should be one of the best strikers in this division.
"Reuben knows he has got to work harder. If he does that, and moves the ball quickly, he can be a big player for us.
"I will have a chat and see what everyone's feelings are. I will make a decision and whatever one I make, hopefully it will benefit us."
Sheridan will have to take into account the injury to Banton and the return of striker Nick Chadwick from a six-match suspension.
Chadwick was a 65th minute substitute for Reading loanee Gozie Ugwu against Wimbledon.
Argyle's draw against Wimbledon leaves them three points adrift of safety from relegation with 12 games to go.
Sheridan said: "There was a lot at stake for both teams so, obviously, it was tense.
"They (Wimbledon) were at home and it was a chance for them to get further away from us.
"And it was a chance for us to get a positive result and get closer to the teams around us.
"I thought it was a good battling performance. We worked really hard. I can't fault their effort."
Sheridan was critical, however, of how Argyle relinquished their lead so soon after scoring.
He said: "We started the game really well and got the goal. The biggest downer for me was how we conceded their goal. That was just players switching off.
"I wasn't happy with the way we celebrated our goal. I was pleased we scored but I saw people run 60 or 70 yards. Just get organised quickly and let's get our shape.
"We had just scored a great goal and got ourselves in a winning position and, 30 seconds later, you are screaming your head off because you have conceded a very soft goal.
"We just didn't hold onto the lead for long enough and it gave Wimbledon a bit of momentum and they came back at us.
"They are a decent team and have had some really good results of late.
"I know other results didn't go great for us on Tuesday but it could be a valuable point for us. I can't fault the effort from the players."
Barnet will come to Home Park four points clear of Argyle after winning 2-0 at home to Paul Sturrock's Southend United on Tuesday.
Sheridan said: "It's a massive game on Saturday. They had a great result (against Southend). All the teams at the bottom are in form at the moment.
"I know we have only taken a point out of the last three games, but we are all scrapping.
"I believe we can get out of the position we are in. The most important thing is not to be in the bottom two at the end of the season, and I have got to make sure we do that. There are going to be a lot of twists and turns."