The Iron head to Plymouth for their longest away trip of the season this weekend, hoping to maintain their unbeaten league start.
Scunthorpe come into the fixture on the back of a 1-0 victory over high-flying Oxford United and a 3-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Middlesbrough on Tuesday. Argyle drew 1-1 away at Southend last Saturday and, unlike the Iron, they have had a week’s worth of rest after being knocked out of the Carabao Cup in the first round at Bristol City.
Graham Alexander has a number of injury worries ahead of the match, with Luke Williams, Jonny Margetts, Kyle Wooton and Lewis Butroid all definitely ruled out. The Iron boss expected Jordan Clarke to be back in training on Thursday morning, but the fixture could come too soon for the right-back. Kevin van Veen is also likely to miss out, after he picked up an injury in the first-half against Oxford.
In midweek against Middlesbrough, United lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Josh Morris, Duane Holmes and Hakeeb Adelakun playing behind Paddy Madden – but that system didn’t work too well. For the majority of the game, Scunthorpe simply were not good enough, and several players should be disappointed with their performance. Alexander may well revert back to a 4-4-2 at Plymouth, which proved to be the right formation last weekend against Oxford, as the Iron claimed their first three points of the season.
If Jordan Clarke continues to miss out, Levi Sutton will hold on to a starting spot at full-back. Funso Ojo is expected to come back into central midfield to play alongside Neal Bishop after being rested at Boro, with Sam Mantom dropping to the bench. If Scunthorpe do decide to play 4-4-2, one of Morris, Holmes or Adelakun will almost certainly be replaced by Tom Hopper, who has put in a couple of decent performances off the bench.
Despite the midweek loss against a superb Middlesbrough side, Josh Morris’ late winner against Oxford should give the Iron confidence ahead of their trip to Plymouth.
Plymouth Team News
Argyle have had a decent start to the season following their return to the third tier of English football. In their first game of the campaign, they were unfortunate to fall to a 2-1 loss away at Peterborough, who have won all of their games so far. The Pilgrims then defeated a much improved Charlton side 2-0 at home, before then drawing 1-1 at Southend, which is a tough place to go. Amongst those results, Plymouth suffered a 5-0 thrashing in the Carabao Cup at Bristol City.
There has been a huge overhaul of the Plymouth squad this summer, with eight players coming into the club and twelve departing. The most notable signings have been pacey winger Lionel Ainsworth, who joined from Motherwell, left midfielder Greg Wylde, who rejoined the club after a short spell at Millwall, and the arrival of talented forward Nadir Ciftci from Celtic.
Former Iron midfielder Jamie Ness was another Argyle recruit this summer, following his release by the club at the end of last season. Ness is a decent, tidy player, however, the fact of the matter is, Scunthorpe fans didn’t see anywhere near enough of the midfielder in his time at the club, due to injuries. Ness has been carrying an injury over the summer, but Plymouth boss Derek Adams is hopeful of him being in contention for Saturday’s clash against his old side.
The Pilgrims have no fresh injury worries coming into the game, so Adams could opt for the same lineup that has started their last two outings. As previously mentioned, Jamie Ness may well be involved in the squad, but it is unlikely he will come in from the start. Nadir Ciftci could be in line for his Argyle debut, as he battles Nathan Blissett for a starting spot up front. The Pilgrims are likely to set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Derek Adams has revealed this week that he believes he knows how to stop Scunthorpe playing, which is by nullifying the threat of Josh Morris – something many Iron fans will disagree with at this moment in time.
The Pilgrims danger man is Graham Carey, who turned down a move to Championship outfit Sheffield United earlier this summer, to stay at Home Park. The silky attacking midfielder is often given a free role behind the striker, in which he can pick pockets and be a real threat to his opponents. Carey scored 15 goals to go alongside 16 assists in all competitions last season. The Iron must stop the Argyle playmaker to have any chance of getting a positive result.
Scunthorpe have a pretty solid recent record against Plymouth, winning four of the last six encounters between the two sides.
In 2007, when the pair met each other in the Championship, they both won their home games. Plymouth were 3-0 victors in the first game at Home Park while the Iron defeated the Pilgrims 1-0 at Glanford Park. United then faced Argyle again two seasons later, where just like their previous fixtures, both sides were victorious on their home turf. It was 2013 before their next encounter, in which Scunthorpe won 1-0 at Glanford Park, before then beating Plymouth 2-0 away from home later on in the campaign.
The Iron will be hoping to claim their first away win of the season and continue their fine recent record against Plymouth this weekend.