Matthew Crichton: Plymouth have lost nine of their last 13 League One matches, what factors have caused such a poor dip in form?
Ian De Lar: We do have several young players in the team, some of these are loanees, so the lack of experience, a dip in confidence, and a long hard season have all contributed to poor results. The team also lacks leaders, so when the chips are down there are not enough old pros to rally the team.
MC: Despite enduring such a poor run, Plymouth have successfully avoided relegation, would you say this season has been a success for the club?
ID: Yes! The majority of Argyle fans said at the start of the season the aim would be to avoid relegation and start again in League One when football and finances return to some sort of normality for season 2021/2022. However, the poor end to the season has deflated the fanbase.
MC: Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe received vast praise for guiding the club towards mid-table in League One earlier this season - do you expect him to be in charge next season?
ID: Yes, definitely, he recently signed a long contract extension and is building a project at the club. Our next season is a big one for him, almost a career-defining season depending on which way it goes. He is regularly linked with managerial vacancies at lower Championship/League One clubs.
MC: Luke Jephcott is the only Plymouth player to score double figures this season, is it the case that if you stop the 21-year-old, you stop Plymouth?
ID: Luke Jephcott had a fantastic first six months of the season, scoring 18 goals before mid-February but hasn’t scored since, a run of 18 games with no goals. Our January signing Niall Ennis has since stepped up and has been amongst the goals.
MC: The Pilgrims have conceded the joint-second most goals in League One this season, what makes your defence so vulnerable?
ID: We lost our experienced captain Gary Sawyer through injury early in the season and two more experienced centre-backs departed in January. Consequently, the defence has consisted of young players on loan and they’ve struggled.
MC: Aside from Jephcott, do Plymouth possess any on-form players who Sunderland will need to be wary of?
ID: As mentioned above, Niall Ennis is in good form, stand-in captain Joe Edwards has been consistent all season, perhaps our best player currently is keeper Mike Cooper who came through the Academy and is playing his first full season.
MC: Ex-Plymouth left-wing-back Callum McFadzean is likely to leave Sunderland after a highly inconsistent season - which level do you think he will be playing at next season?
ID: We have really missed him this season, he and Danny Mayor formed a great partnership on the left side last year, a throw-back from their days at Bury. McFadzean is good enough for League One; some players just don’t work out at clubs but prosper at other clubs.
MC: Who are the eleven Plymouth players you believe Lowe will select and what style of play can Johnson’s men expect to encounter?
ID: The starting 11 is up for debate because it’s the end of the season and I believe a few youngsters will get a chance, it will still be a strong line-up. Our style is possession-based, although Lowe has switched formations in recent games and gone more direct, a sign that he is learning on the job.
MC: Plymouth beat Sunderland 2-1 back in January, what is your honest prediction of the score this time around?
ID: Despite the 6-0 defeat against Charlton in our last home game, we do have the eighth-best home record in League One, so a draw or a narrow win will be a satisfying end to the season at Home Park. Having said that, we really struggle in the second half of games, Plymouth have one of the best records in League One for our first half “results” but one of the worst for our second half scorelines.