IT is almost exactly 12 months since Leam Richardson played a competitive game of football.
But the Accrington Stanley boss could be required to lace up his boots again this weekend with his side down on defensive numbers.
The duo were casualties in Tuesday night’s FA Cup second round replay exit at Oxford United.
Winnard, who has been playing at right back, suffered suspected concussion after a clash of heads as he attacked a first half corner, while Murphy limped off with a hip injury early in the second period.
Following on-loan Rob Atkinson’s recent recall to Fleetwood Town, that leaves Toto Nsiala as the only recognised senior centre half, and a gap at right back, if neither Winnard and Murphy are declared fit.
It could call for drastic action from Richardson, but without a win in six league and cup games, the Stanley boss is prepared to do whatever it takes to get a result.
“The physio and the medical team will be assessing the players so we’ll keep our fingers crossed because we are very light in certain areas,” said Richardson.
Asked if naming himself on the teamsheet to take on the Pilgrims was a possibly, he added: “Definitely. I’m still registered as a player. I haven’t been able to do as much training as I would have liked over the last six to 12 months but the option is there and it’s something I am conscious of for the future.”
In an ideal world Richardson would look to make loan signings, but until the transfer window re-opens on New Year’s Day, he can only make plans.
“To be fair I would have probably been looking at bringing four or five in,” he said. “We must go and get a couple of loans right and not just add them for the numbers.
“We need to be better in my opinion.
“There are a lot of young lads here and sometimes it takes its toll.
“When you assess the season so far when we’ve won, we’ve won well.
“When we’ve lost we’ve lost in a sense you can tell we’re young.
“With a bit of experience if we can get that balance and we can kick on after Christmas and get a couple (of additions right) we’ll be fine.”
But first Richardson knows a win over Plymouth, who sit a place below them, would be a boost.
“A home game against Plymouth going into a busy Christmas period, it’s a big three points that we must get,” said the Stanley boss, who is today set to extend the emergency loan of goalkeeper Paul Rachubka.
Midfielder Matty Whichelow has returned to Watford at the end of his three-month loan.