Plymouth Argyle's 18-year-old left-back Jamie Richards delighted by Football League debut
DEFENDER Jamie Richards has admitted his Football League debut for Argyle caught him by surprise.
Richards was a 33rd minute substitute in the 1-1 draw away to AFC Wimbledon on Tuesday, after a thigh injury to Jason Banton, the on-loan Crystal Palace winger.
Argyle manager John Sheridan decided against a straight swap for Banton, despite having Paris Cowan-Hall, Andres Gurrieri and Luke Young on the bench and all capable of playing in that position.
Instead, 18-year-old Richards slotted into the defence at left-back, with Onismor Bhasera moving into the role vacated by Banton.
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Richards told Herald Sport: "It was a great feeling to be thrown in when I was least expecting it.
"It was a winger that went down and I never thought it was going to be me that would go on, but it was brilliant it was.
"We had Paris, Andres and Youngy, who can all play in that position out wide."
Banton had put the Pilgrims into the lead in the 26th minute, only for Wimbledon to equalise almost immediately.
It remained 1-1 until full-time as Argyle stayed bottom of the table and the home side dropped into the relegation zone in 23rd.
Richards said: "Three points would have been nice, but it was still a point. It's vital at this time of the season.
"They had some very tall, quick players. It was hard for me to make that adaptation from reserve team football.
"You have got to switch on and concentrate so much more in first team football. The pace of the game is so much quicker."
Richards has been at Argyle since the age of nine, developing through the centre of excellence and apprentice ranks to the senior squad.
His only previous first team appearance, prior to Tuesday, was when he started at centre-back in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie against Aldershot Town at Home Park in October, which the Pilgrims won 2-1.
Since then, Richards has been restricted to occasional run-outs for the reserves, who have been starved of matches for much of this season, although that has improved since Sheridan was appointed as manager at the start of January.
Richards admitted there was a considerable difference between playing for the reserves and the senior side.
He said: "It's literally the pace of the game. There were a few times on Tuesday where I got caught out on the ball with my first touch.
"In the reserves I'm used to having a bit of time and picking out a pass, but it's a lot quicker in the first team.
"You get someone closing down so I have got to make sure I'm ready for that."
Richards had recently received a clue from Sheridan that a League debut could be on the cards for him.
"The gaffer picked me out the other day in training and said 'be ready because I might throw you in' and asked if I had ever played left-back," he revealed.
"That was a little indication for me. I have been working hard in training and, thankfully, it has paid off.
"Hopefully, the gaffer knows he can trust me now. I will always give 100 per cent if he does throw me in."