Plymouth Argyle can cope without Darren Purse, says Carl Fletcher
PLYMOUTH Argyle will turn to Maxime Blanchard to replace suspended captain and centre-back Darren Purse.
The Pilgrims are set to be without Purse for the next three matches after he was sent-off in the 3-0 defeat at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
Purse became involved in a feud with Fleetwood midfielder Jamie McGuire which eventually led to the second dismissal of his Argyle career.
The Pilgrims' experienced defender was perhaps fortunate to only be booked by referee David Webb in the 76th minute after a clash with McGuire.
Then, moments later, the pair were involved in an off-the-ball incident, which was not spotted by Webb.
He consulted with both of his assistant referees, Alan Clayton and Martin Coy, and then pulled out his red card.
Purse will start his three-match suspension when Argyle play at Bradford City tomorrow.
The 35-year-old will also be banned for the home game against Chesterfield on Saturday and the visit of Oxford United in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy on December 4.
Blanchard, Argyle's 2011/12 player-of-the-year, has been a substitute for the last two fixtures.
He lost his spot in the starting line-up after Purse returned to action following a toe injury, but will now be called upon against Bradford.
Pilgrims boss Carl Fletcher did not want to dwell on the length of the suspension to Purse.
He said: "Max comes in. The ones who can't play, whether they are injured or suspended, you don't worry too much about them.
"You have got to concentrate on the ones who are available to be out there on the pitch."
There were some reports over the weekend that Purse was sent-off for a second bookable offence, but Fletcher confirmed it had been a straight red card.
He said: "I haven't seen it, but I will watch it on the DVD and then go from there."
Argyle were trailing 1-0, to a second-minute goal from striker David Ball, when Purse received his marching orders.
McGuire took to social media site Twitter on Saturday night to protest his innocence.
He wrote: "Listen, not my fault Darren Purse got sent-off. Thought he could bully me – not a chance. That's why he got sent-off."
Fletcher suggested a number of factors could have been behind Purse's uncharacteristic lost of composure.
He said: "I think when you play a football match, sometimes a will to win spills over into actions that maybe you wouldn't normally do.
"I have played games and you do things on a pitch that, in the cold light of day, don't seem normal.
"With the adrenalin, the frustration, the will to win and the hard work, sometimes you do things you probably wouldn't normally do."
It is not clear whether Purse will face further punishment for confronting Fleetwood captain Steve McNulty after he was red carded.
Purse took a swipe at McNulty before heading from the visitors' dressing room, taking a kick at the retractable tunnel on his way.
When Fletcher was asked about the incident involving Purse and McNulty he replied: "I didn't see that.
"I was too busy speaking to the ones that remained on the pitch to try to sort out what we needed to do formation wise."
Fletcher did not speak to Purse before answering questions from the media after the match.
He had not decided at that point whether Purse would remain with the Pilgrims squad in the north of England as they prepare for the game away to Bradford.
Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon did not want to get drawn into talking about the events surrounding Purse's dismissal.
He said: "I wouldn't get involved with another manager's players. It's not my place. He's an experienced player.
"I didn't see anything, and I'm not doing the old, 'I was too far away' job. I genuinely didn't see what happened."
Mellon added: "You don't want anybody to get sent-off. I'm not the type of manager that wants to see that, but it's not for me to get involved in."
Fleetwood scored twice after Purse was red carded, including an unfortunate own goal from centre-back Curtis Nelson.
Mellon said: "Credit to Plymouth, they have come here and had a right go, and tried to beat us.
"Maybe three goals in the end flattered us as far as the distance between the two teams, but we are delighted to be scoring and picking up points."