Plymouth Argyle borrow Crystal Palace winger and reach settlements with Williams and Griffiths
Plymouth Argyle manager John Sheridan hopes that new recruit Jason Banton will bring some excitement to Home Park.
Sheridan believes the 21-year-old winger, who has arrived on a one-month loan from npower Championship club Crystal Palace, has the pace to stretch opposition defences and make Argyle more of an attacking threat.
Banton will train with his new team-mates for the first time today as the Pilgrims prepare for their League Two home game against Dagenham and Redbridge at Home Park tomorrow. His arrival has coincided with the departures of left-back Robbie Williams and striker Rhys Griffiths, who have both had their Argyle contracts terminated by mutual consent.
Banton signed for Palace at the end of October after a trial period and made his debut for them in a 0-0 draw at home to Stoke City in an FA Cup third round tie on January 5. He was a second-half substitute for former Argyle winger Yannick Bolasie.
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Banton had spells in the youth set-ups at Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers before signing for Liverpool in January 2011. He then moved on to Leicester City on a one-year contract that summer. He did not play for the Foxes, however, and appeared once as a substitute for Burton Albion during a short loan spell with them in October 2011.
Sheridan said: "Jason has been at some really good clubs. I have seen clips of him, and spoken to one or two people who know him, and he can be a very exciting player.
"I thought it was important we got a player who is going to gain us that ground, 30 or 40 yards on up the pitch, quickly. He will get at people.
"He was involved in the Palace first team against Stoke a couple of weeks ago. He's highly recommended and, hopefully, he's going to excite us, give everyone a lift, and play at a good tempo."
Banton, a former England Under-17 international, is the sixth signing made by Sheridan since he was hired as Argyle manager on January 6. He has followed Ronan Murray, Guy Branston, Gozie Ugwu, Anthony Charles and Reuben Reid into Home Park.
Although the January transfer window closed at 11pm last night, Football League clubs can resume making loan signings from February 7.
Banton has scored three goals in 12 games for Palace's development side this season. His loan spell with Argyle will last up to and including the visit of Barnet to Home Park on Saturday, March 2, a period covering six games.
Banton will wear the number 19 shirt after it was vacated by winger Joe Lennox, whose contract with the Pilgrims ended yesterday, while Williams and Griffiths both parted company with Argyle after Sheridan told them they did not figure in his first-team plans.
The pair had deals with the Pilgrims until the end of the season. Williams made 44 starts and two substitute appearances for Argyle, and scored five goals, after signing as a free agent in July 2011.
Griffiths was signed by former manager Carl Fletcher from Port Talbot Town last summer, after a short trial period. He put his career as a firefighter in Wales on hold to take up the chance of playing professional football for the first time.
Griffiths struggled to stay fit, however, making seven starts and ten substitute appearances for Argyle, and scoring three goals. Both he and Williams are now free agents. Sheridan said: "It's not a nice thing to tell people, but it's totally for the benefit of the lads. They are both experienced players and I don't think it's right for them to be sitting around at their stage of their careers. Hopefully, they will go and get somewhere else, which I'm sure they will. I have just got to look at what is going to be good for us.
"Having too many bodies and people not really doing anything is something I don't really need, and I don't think the players need it."
Sheridan still has plenty of cover at left-back even after the departure of Williams, with Onismor Bhasera and Charles both capable of filling that role.