Plymouth Argyle defender Jamie Richards hopes he has proved a point
TEENAGE defender Jamie Richards hopes he has proved to Plymouth Argyle manager Carl Fletcher he is capable of making the grade at first-team level.
The 18-year-old was given his debut for the Pilgrims in the 2-1 win against Aldershot Town in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy second round at Home Park last Tuesday.
Richards, a graduate of the club's youth ranks, got his chance because Argyle had a number of players ruled out for one reason or another.
He started the game at centre-back with 19-year-old Curtis Nelson and both put in solid defensive displays as the Pilgrims came out on top and moved into the last 16 of the JPT.
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The pair were unused substitutes when Argyle won 4-1 at Barnet in League Two on Saturday, as Maxime Blanchard returned to action after concussion while captain Darren Purse was back from a one-match ban.
Richards, though, is determined to build on his encouraging debut performance.
He told Herald Sport: "I thought I gave quite a good account of myself in the game last Tuesday.
"Hopefully, the gaffer (Fletcher) knows he can trust me now and maybe I will get a few more appearances this season."
Richards was born in the Essex seaside resort of Southend and trained with his local Football League club until his family moved to Devon when he was aged nine.
He soon linked up with Argyle and has progressed through the centre of excellence and apprentice ranks to the senior squad.
Richards said: "I was very proud to make my debut. I have been waiting for this moment and it was a great feeling to be out there, and getting a win at the end of it as well.
"It was an enjoyable game to play in. We had a lot of the ball at the back and going forward we looked pretty sharp.
"The wingers, Joey (Lennox) and Paris (Cowan-Hall), were brilliant. They created a lot."
The partnership of Nelson and Richards was a new one at first team level but they had plenty of previous experience as a centre-back pairing.
Richards said: "I have known Nelse for a long time now. We played in the youth team together and know each other's games. I felt it worked quite well (against Aldershot)."
With Argyle not having a reserves' side any more, Richards had played only one full game of football this season before making his debut in the JPT tie.
That came when an under-21 'development side' won 2-0 away to Reading the previous week.
Richards said: "The young lads and the ones that aren't playing (in the first team) have to do a lot more after training and do extra running to ensure we don't get left behind fitness-wise."
Argyle were a Championship club when Richards first moved to Devon but, in recent years, they have had a turbulent time, on and off the pitch.
The defender believes there is now a brighter future for the Pilgrims.
He said: "I have seen the ups and the downs of the club. Hopefully, we are going to be on our way back up."
Richards is the latest in a long list of young players to break into the first team at Argyle under the management of Fletcher.
"The gaffer is always saying he won't go on reputations, he will go on how you have been doing in training," said Richards.
"In my case, I felt I had been doing all right in training and the opportunity opened up for me to make my debut through injuries and suspension."