MANAGER John Sheridan has highlighted the strength of character of his Plymouth Argyle squad after their surge into League Two play-off contention.
Now the Pilgrims face the acid test of their promotion credentials with back-to-back games at Home Park against the top two sides in the division.
They take on second-placed Scunthorpe United, who are unbeaten in their last 20 matches, tomorrow (3pm), before playing table-topping Chesterfield next Tuesday night.
It promises to be a crucial period in their campaign.
Argyle have won five of their last seven fixtures – four of them away from home – to move up to eighth position in League Two.
They are level on points with seventh-placed Southend United, who occupy the last play-off slot, and have played one match less than them.
It is the first time in six years since Argyle have been challenging towards the top of a table, rather than being involved in a desperate fight against relegation.
When the Pilgrims beat Bristol City 2-1 at Ashton Gate on March 15, 2008 they sat in sixth position in the Championship.
Only six more points followed that season, though, and Argyle eventually finished 10th.
Since then, the club has been relegated twice, and come close to dropping out of the Football League on another couple of occasions.
Sheridan admitted there had been ‘hard times’ for the Pilgrims, but he wanted to focus on the future.
He told Herald Sport: “That’s all in the past. We are looking forward, and I think we are improving.
“I think the team has shown a lot of character this season.
“When I first came to the club, and this is nothing on anyone else who has been here before me, there was a losing mentality.
“It has been about getting a bit of positivity into the team, and the players I have brought in, and I think we have shown that.
“We have fought and got results this season. It’s a good sign when you lose a game away from home and then win the next one.
“We lost 4-0 (at home) to York and then we won three on the spin. That’s a bit of character in the team.
“I have said, it’s important you have a good dressing room, and I think I have got a really good dressing room.
“We have gone on a good run and picked points up, and one or two results are going our way, and we find ourselves a little bit closer to teams. That’s what we wanted.
“With 11 games to go, we are in a position where we can achieve something. We have just got to keep believing we can do that.”
Sheridan has set a points total target which he believes will get Argyle into the play-offs at the end of the season.
But the former Oldham Athletic and Chesterfield manager would not reveal what it was.
He said: “I set a target 10 games ago of what I think it will get us in the play-offs, like I did last season when we stayed up.
“I proved myself right then, and hopefully I will prove myself right again.
“I have got it in my office, the points tally which I think will get us up, and we are on course at the moment.”