Six back in contention, three out: Plymouth boss issues team news update ahead of Sunderland clash

Plymouth Argyle boss Ian Foster has given an early team news update ahead of this weekend's Championship fixtures
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Plymouth Argyle boss Ian Foster is hopeful that he will be able to call upon a significantly stronger squad for the long trip the Stadium of Light this weekend.

Plymouth faced a gruelling FA Cup replay on Tuesday night, in which they took promotion hopefuls Leeds United to extra time on home turf but eventually succumbed to a 4-1 defeat. It will be a much-changed Plymouth side to the one that beat Sunderland 2-0 earlier this season on Saturday, with Foster having replaced Steven Schumacher in the dugout following his move to Stoke City.

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It was then a busy turnover of players in the January window, with loanees Luke Cundle, Finn Azaz and Kaine Kesler-Hayden all departing. Plymouth moved quickly to replace those players with a number of incomings, but a larger number of those were then ineligible to face Leeds United.

As such, Foster is hoping that left-back Lino Sousa as well as the midfield trio of Adam Forshaw, Alfie Devine and Darko Gyabi will return to the fold this weekend. Foster could only name six substitutes on Tuesday night but should have some welcome fresh legs back in the ranks, with Mickel Miller and Julio Pleguezuelo set to return after time off for personal reasons.

Goalkeeper Mike Cooper is unavailable for Saturday's game due to injury, while Jordan Houghton and Mustapha Bundu are both also likely to be missing due to injury.

"It was really unfortunate," Forster told Plymouth Live after the Leeds defeat.

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"We have obviously got the four boys who were ineligible for the game, which we knew, which is fine. We have got a couple of injuries in Jordan and Mustapha, which is disappointing, but okay, that's part and parcel of football. And then we have got two boys (Mickel Miller and Julio Pleguezuelo) who missed the game with respective family commitments.

"I feel for both of them. Neither one of them wanted to miss the game but family comes first and we made sure those two boys are okay. It was more important they stayed with their families than it was to come with us tonight, which obviously challenged us in terms of the numbers in the group.

"I have got no issues with the number of subs we had. It was just circumstances. We will have another six players available to us at the weekend."

Foster said he was pleased with the efforts of his players and said there were a lot of positives they could take from the two legs against Leeds: "One thing we spoke about leading into the game was to come away from this with no regrets, and I'm proud of the way they approached the game, I'm proud of how difficult they have made it for Leeds over two games.

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"I think the scoreline is quite sobering for us in terms of their ruthlessness at the end, but we won't be too downtrodden with the scoreline or the result because I know how well we have played over the two games. We have got to take the positives out of that and use that going forward."