Plymouth Argyle take on League Two Cheltenham Town this Tuesday in the group stages of the EFL Trophy.
The Robins, managed by Michael Duff, will look to make it two wins from two in the competition after a 1-0 away victory against Newport County last month.
If Argyle have plans of progressing in this competition, then Tuesday’s fixture is a must win. Ryan Lowe’s side were defeated by Norwich City U21’s in September and a loss against Cheltenham could see them fall six points adrift of second place.
The Pilgrims have never progressed out of the group stages of this competition since its introduction in the 2016/17 season. The season prior to the format change saw Argyle reach the southern quarter-finals where they came crashing out to then-League One Millwall.
Argyle captain Gary Sawyer will miss the cup match. The 35-year-old damaged his ankle in the Pilgrims first EFL Trophy match against Norwich U21s. Lewis Macleod is a doubt, the central midfielder was not risked against Hull City but is back in full training.
Ben Reeves and Luke Jephcott are both available for selection. The duo travelled to the Humberside with Reeves making an appearance off the bench.
For Cheltenham, Callum Ebanks is out for the foreseeable future with a knee injury. Finn Azaz, who scored on Saturday, picked up a knock against Leyton Orient and is a doubt for Tuesday.
Alfie May could start for the Robins. The attacker, who missed the away fixture at Tranmere Rovers, came off the bench in Town’s 2-0 win over Orient at the weekend.
Both sides will rotate heavily, emphasising this match as an opportunity to give players returning from injury, or out of favour, a run out.
Cheltenham (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Bowry, Boyle; Blair, Bonds, Clements, Chamberlain, Freestone; May, Reid.
Argyle (3-5-2): Ruddy; Aimson, Canavan, Opoku; Edwards, Fornah, Reeves, Lolos, Law; Jephcott, Telford.
Cheltenham are coming off the back of two away wins with five goals scored and none conceded. In the league, the Robins find themselves two points off automatics with a game in hand on third place Salford City.
Argyle were unbeaten in League One throughout September. The Pilgrims latest contest against Hull proved that they have what it takes to compete in the third tier, despite losing 1-0, with Lowe’s side the dominant for most of the second half. Argyle are 13th in League One, two points outside the playoffs.
Ones to watch
Tyrese Fornah is Ryan Lowe’s latest, and most likely last, summer signing. Announced on Friday night, the Nottingham Forest prospect was an unused substitute against Hull. The Green Army will want to keep a close eye on the defensive midfielder’s debut.
Dom Telford is in his second season at Argyle. As the youngster Luke Jephcott and Blackpool loanee Ryan Hardie were preferred last season, the striker only managed seven starts in the last campaign. With Jephcott missing most of this season through injury, Telford has appeared in every fixture. He has repaid the faith shown to him by manager Ryan Lowe, equalling his goal tally from last season with strikes against Norwich u21’s and AFC Wimbledon. With Jephcott fully fit again, the 23-year-old will have to play well against the Robins, if selected, to stay in the starting 11.
Cheltenham’s Alfie May has endured a slow start to the current campaign, scoring once in six appearances. With six goals in 12 appearances last season, though, the Pilgrims must be cautious of the attacker if he plays.
West Bromwich Albion loanee Finn Azaz has scored twice and assisted the same amount from central midfield. The 20-year-old was voted Cheltenham’s player of the month award for September. He will prove to be a handful for Lowe’s side if selected.
The Robins have met the Pilgrims 23 times in all competitions. Argyle have won 13 times to Cheltenham’s 7, with three matches ended in stalemate.
Lowe’s side have won four of the previous five meetings. The Gloucestershire club have failed to beat Argyle at home on the past five occasions, with their last win coming in 2012.
The most recent bout came on Boxing Day last season. A Zak Rudden effort in the first half earnt Argyle all three points.
How to watch
The match has not been selected for television coverage, though, a match pass is available to purchase via either club’s iFollow websites for £10.
Kick-off at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium is 19:45 BST.
What has been said
Argyle Assistant Steven Schumacher will take the reins on Tuesday instead of Ryan Lowe, who will watch, and undoubtably throw his two cents in, from the stands.
Speaking about Cheltenham to Plymouth Live, Lowe's right hand man said: “Nothing changes in the planning and preparation. I deliver most of the game plan stuff anyway. So that does not really change, the coaching does not change.
“There will not be as many [changes]. The team we picked against Norwich was really young.
“Now we have got a few more senior players who need minutes. We will definitely be a bit more experienced than we were in that first EFL Trophy game.”
Schumacher confirmed that goalkeeper Jack Ruddy, midfielder Ben Reeves and new signing Tyrese Fornah will all feature for the Pilgrims.
“There will be a couple young lads in there, but it will be a strong team, one that has got lots of experience.
“We are going there to Cheltenham to try and win the game, so fingers crossed we get a result.
“We are expecting a tough game. It is always a tough game when you play Cheltenham.
“They were one of the better teams in the division last year. We had a really tough game here [at Home Park] against them, which they won.
“I am expecting them to make a couple of changes, but they will still have a strong team.
“We will have to be at our very best to get anything from it.”
Cheltenham boss Michael Duff has yet to comment on the fixture.