Posh v Plymouth: Fergie set to make changes

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DARREN Ferguson is threatening a defensive shake-up ahead of tonight's Championship fixture against rock-bottom Plymouth at London Road (7.45pm).

DARREN Ferguson is threatening a defensive shake-up ahead of tonight's Championship fixture against rock-bottom Plymouth at London Road (7.45pm).The Posh boss is rapidly losing patience with a team that has yet to keep a clean sheet in nine Championship fixtures. On-loan central defender Krystian Pearce and left-back Jamie Day are the players pushing hard for promotion from the substitutes' bench.

Posh conceded two soft goals in the opening 11 minutes of Saturday's dismal defeat at Blackpool to maintain a sequence of poor starts. Of the 15 Championship goals scored against Posh, 12 have arrived in the first half of matches - conversely Posh have 'lost' the second half of a match just once, at Leicester earlier this month.

Ferguson said: "I don't know why we keep letting in early goals, but it has to stop. We have to sort ourselves out defensively and Krystian Pearce is certainly in contention for a start, although I will take a lot of time over my team selection.

"You can't keep giving Championship sides the lead. It's hard to keep fighting back against them."

Pearce, who has started just the Carling Cup win at Wycombe on August 11 since moving to Posh from Birmingham, replaced Gaby Zakuani in the second half at Blackpool, but it's unlikely that Ferguson would go into a match without his most physically dominant defender.

Welsh international Craig Morgan might therefore be under more threat, while Day is keeping Tommy Williams on his toes.

None of the players on duty at Bloomfield Road escaped criticism for a lacklustre effort which was a crushing disappointment following stellar displays against Reading and Newcastle.

So Posh are on a make-up mission tonight and, on paper at least, Plymouth appear to be ideal opponents for a team looking for an immediate bounce back to form. The Pilgrims have lost their last seven matches and played out a tough fixture against Nottingham Forest just 48 hours ago.

Not that Ferguson is taking anything for granted. He added: "We won't fall into the trap of thinking we just have to turn up to beat Plymouth. They are all hard games at this level and this one will be no exception.

"The players know they let themselves down at Blackpool, but in recent times we've always followed a bad performance with a good one and hopefully that will be the case again tonight.

"Plymouth are not in good form and playing on Sunday won't have helped their preparations tonight, but they are desperate for a win and that makes them dangerous opponents.

"We must be on top of our game, we must concentrate for 90 minutes defensively and we must be more ruthless in both penalty areas."

Full-back Charlie Lee is the only senior player absent from tonight's match. The reigning Posh player-of-the-year is expected to be involved in Saturday's Championship match with Nottingham Forest at London Road.

Teams:

Posh - from Lewis, Martin, Williams, Morgan, Zakuani, Diagouraga, Coutts, Frecklington, Boyd, Mackail-Smith, Mclean, Batt, Keates, Pearce, McKeown, Day, Rowe, Whelpdale.

Plymouth - from Larrieu, Gray, Lowry, Sawyer, Gow, Fletcher, Dugoid, Clark, Mackie, Sheridon, McNamee, Letheren, Patterson, Timer, Wright-Phillips, Fallon, Judge, Chester.

THERE will be a minute's applause in memory of Posh legend Terry Bly before tonight's match. Striker Bly, who scored 54 goals for Posh in the 1960-61 season, sadly passed away last week.

The Posh players will wear black armbands. Former team-mates Roy Banham and Peter McNamee will be at the match along with members of Bly's family.