A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Darcy Blake feels there is cause for optimism about Argyle’s prospects this season. After Saturdays game he said: "The result was disappointing. We had our chances, but we were made to pay for a lack of concentration in defence. We played some really good attacking football. We got the ball in the box a lot, and we were unlucky when we hit the post. I'm confident we can do well in the next game we play." Blake, who will spend this week with Wales' Under-21 squad to prepare for a game against Italy on Friday, added: "I can't wait to come back and have a full week training with Plymouth. I only had one training session before my debut, but I know my role as a right-back." Blake had to mark Wednesday winger Jermaine Johnson on his debut, and said: "He's an experienced player, and he's very quick. He got past me once or twice, but I stuck at it and I thought I did all right." Paul Sturrock was pleased with the way in which Blake recovered from his rough start. He said: "I was very pleased with Darcy Blake's debut. In the first five minutes, it was a case of 'welcome to the Championship', but after that I thought he was comfortable. He started to gain in confidence." Sturrock decided to give Blake his debut despite the fact that David McNamee had been passed fit to play after making a quick recovery from an ankle injury. Sturrock said: "McNamee wasn't injured. I felt it was appropriate to go with Darcy Blake. I didn't want to take a chance on McNamee and finish up with him coming off again. Then one of your substitutions is wasted – and do you want full-backs on your bench?"
Paul Sturrock is seeking further defensive reinforcements for his side. He said: "I'm in negotiations with two players. Whether we get them or not is in the lap of the gods. At this juncture, you wouldn't have to be a rocket scientist to work out what their positions are. I would be hopeful these two players will be paraded on Monday or Tuesday, but there is a lot of water to go under the bridge yet."
Paul Sturrock thought Argyle were their own worst enemy as they were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. He said: "I can assure you, I'm as frustrated as the fans are. We don't send teams out to lose football games. We don't send teams out not to be competitive. I don't think you could argue this team aren't rolling up their sleeves and battling. But every time we make a mistake at this minute we get punished." Sheffield Wednesday took the lead with a close range header which was almost a carbon copy of Derby County's winner last week. Sturrock said: "We work on defending set pieces a lot, especially when we have been losing goals that way. You saw the goal. I don't really need to explain it. And once you go 1-0 down at home, you have to chase the game. You can sometimes leave the back door open, and the second goal came from a sloppy penalty. There are moments in football games which dictate the result. Today, Carl Fletcher hit the post and Gary headed one wide. But Wednesday have taken their chances from their moments." For the second successive season, Argyle have picked up two points from their first five games but Sturrock insisted they were a better team now than last year. He said: "We have lost the last two home games 3-1 but we have dictated large spells in both of them. But against Swansea and Norwich at the same time last season we were second best to everything."
Simon Walton has joined Crewe Alexandra on a season-long loan.
Paul Sturrock was pleased with his new boys, despite the defeat by Sheffield Wednesday yesterday. Darcy Blake made his full debut at right-back and Kari Arnason made his home debut at centre-back, with Alan Gow and Cillian Sheridan in attack. Sturrock said: "I actually thought Arnason got better as the game went on, in a difficult 90 minutes. The first five minutes Darcy Blake had a welcome to the Championship. After that, he was comfortable and started to gain in confidence, and I was very comfortable with his performance. There were no substitutions today because I feel the front two need to get to know each other and to build a relationship, and I was very encouraged by some of the signs from their individual performances, and together. There is definitely something blossoming. Cillian and Gow looked as if they are going to be a handful, and with Bradley Wright-Phillips to come back, we have three very gifted footballers. This team went into this game today, through circumstance, with three players making their full debuts. That is straightaway a pressure on the team, but the boys I've mentioned definitely came out with pass marks from this game." Sturrock will continue to try and add to his squad ahead of Tuesday's transfer deadline. He said: "We are attempting to add to our squad and I hope to have players into the football club before Tuesday, if at all possible, which will strengthen the areas that need strengthening. If we stand still and don't bring anybody in because we can't get anybody out, we will go backwards."
Argyle lost 3-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Home Park, the goal scored by Alan Gow after 80 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Blake, Arnason, Seip, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, Paterson, Mackie, Sheridan, Gow. Subs (not used – Timar, Clark, MacLean, Fallon, Noone, Summerfield, Letheren). Attendance - 10,228
Paul Sturrock is determined to secure a victory over his former club Sheffield Wednesday today, and he is not concerned with the manner in which the points are won. He said: "We have changed the way we play. If you look at some of the games we've played this season, we're generally passing the ball much more than we probably did last season. We're a much more solid unit this season in terms of the players and the team spirit amongst the players. But as far as the style of play, the important thing is to put wins on the board. I've watched all sorts of styles of play over the years and normally what you find is, if you win the football game, your style of play is acceptable. When you don't win the football game, it's the reason why you're not winning the football game, so let's just put some wins on the board. We need a win. I don't think anybody would argue with that. It's an important game to try and set out our stall at home." Sheffield Wednesday beat Scunthorpe 4-0 last weekend and Sturrock added: "They came up with an impressive victory at Hillsborough, so they come here with a bit of confidence. We've got to be out there and grind out a result. A win's a win. Whether it's 4-0 or 1-0, I don't really care, it's important for the confidence of the team at this minute and the whole club that we get on the board with a victory. With three points on the board, we jump up five places in the league - it would be a benefit to everybody. If there's any comfort to take out of anything, we have played much better this year than we started last season. Anybody that's been at the games - there isn't a debate." Sturrock is determined to improve Argyle’s home form. He said: "It's been gnawing away for the 18 months that we've been indifferent. Funnily enough, a couple of the other managers have mooted that - people I know, friends in the game have mooted how they went through spells of exactly the same thing, and how they managed to saunter out of it. I had a fantastic spell with Sheffield Wednesday. For a spell, just before I got there, they couldn't buy a win at home, but we slowly turned it around. It's going to be a slow process here as well. You can always tell when the crowd goes silent, they're worried, and it seems to seep on to the football pitch. I'm very hopeful that some of the fresh players we've got, some of the new players, haven't been tarnished with that brush yet, so I'm very hopeful that their exuberance and the adding of a couple of loan players in as well, will all of a sudden rekindle the results here." The fans have an obvious role to play and Sturrock is confident the majority will back their team. He said: "I've been here for a lot of years now over the piece, and to be fair to them there's always a minority at any football club, but the majority are appreciative of the situation and I know will back the team to the hilt. As I've said all along and I'll say it again, if things haven't worked out at the end of the game, I think that's the time to vent your frustrations and I'm positive that 95% of the fans will give the team the backing they deserve."
Paul Sturrock is well aware of the tough task ahead at Home Park, but is keen to stress that time is the only healer to Argyle's recent slide: "The important thing for any football club is to have a solidity and uniformity, and not the usual chopping and changing," he said. "It's been well documented that this club has had four managers in four years. George Burley had six years before he pushed Ipswich Town into the Premier League. I'm saying six solid years, it took that time to build a squad. It took me five years at St Johnstone to build a squad that got promotion and then stayed up in the league for a lot of years after that." Sturrock insisted his position is safe, but admitted Argyle have trouble competing financially in the Championship. "I don't feel pressure like that; I don't see pressure like that," he said. "I see a job in hand; I see a job that I've got to go down the road with. The only way I can do that is by changing personnel, that's got to be done at a slow rate, and obviously try and shape a team to win football games. That's what I'm doing at this minute. You can sometimes get a quick fix, but this kind of club, with the financial restraints it's had over the years and still has due to this league - finances are shooting through the roof - it's got to go very much, much slower, so I think that's a lot of the worry of a football fan. A football fan wants it now."
George Donnelly joined Luton Town on a one-month loan deal yesterday. He said: "I've never been to Luton but I'm looking forward to the experience of playing first-team football. I just want to play some games, improve my match-fitness and hopefully score some goals."
Argyle are still waiting for their first victory of the season and Marcel Seip is far from happy about that. "We're not doing well, to be honest," he said. "We have not had a win yet, and that is not good enough after five games. We're desperate for a win on Saturday. I'm not happy with the way I've been playing. I have high standards, and I was not happy with the way I played in the first few games. The only game in which I was happy with myself was the Derby game, and we still lost that. For me, Cardiff at home was probably my worst game. I got bullied all over the place. It isn't going to happen again, I know that. I just want to achieve what I did last year, and be consistent in every single game. Hopefully, I won't slip up again. I'm glad I'm still in the team, as I haven't played well." Seip does not want to be involved in another relegation battle. "We're almost at the bottom again, and we don't want to be there all season," he said. "It's still early in the season, but we want to get some points on board as early as possible." Seip hinted that Argyle might keep things simple from a tactical point of view today. He added: "The gaffer has mentioned the diamond but, points- wise, it has not worked out yet. Maybe we'll go back to 4-4-2, and see what it brings us." Asked if he felt that performances have been better than the results secured so far, Seip replied: "Yes. At Derby, we out-passed them in the first half, and it was the same in the first half at Crystal Palace. But our defence has not been perfect. We have given too many chances away, from open play and from set-pieces. As long as we can stop doing that, we have a chance – and, hopefully, the strikers can do their jobs and give us some goals."
Argyle have signed Cardiff City defender Darcy Blake on loan until January. Blake, a right-back, said: "I had a phone call from Cardiff City manager Dave Jones. I've asked him to go on loan for a while now and he just said Plymouth were interested. To be honest, I was delighted. I was expecting to go down a league or go up to Scotland, but when Plymouth came in it was brilliant, just a chance for me to prove myself. I haven't really been playing much this season and I've just come back from an injury as well. I can't wait to just start playing again. I want to prove to myself that I can play at this level and show Plymouth that I can as well, and do a good job at Plymouth." Blake played the second-half of Cardiff's defeat at Home Park last November, and added: "I played half a game last season. It was on TV, I came on in the second half. I already know Chris Barker, Steve MacLean, Kyle Letheren. It's the first time I've ever joined a different club, so it's good to have people you know, it makes it more comfortable for you." Blake will be eligible for tomorrow's game with Sheffield Wednesday and is desperate for regular football after a summer on the treatment table. "We'll see what the manager says," he said. "I'll have a chat with him now. I had my operation at the end of last season, I started out pre-season with Cardiff from day one so I'm fit as well, just need to get games under my belt and I'm excited to start playing again. I had a thing called compartment syndrome which is both of my legs, sliced open really. They're not the nicest scars."
Paul Sturrock believes the signing of Darcy Blake will have dual benefits. He said: "He is here because the full-back positions have been a problem to us. Duguid's injured and McNamee has been injured as well, and he gives us options. He can play several positions. He is an under-21 international and comes with a high pedigree. He has been unfortunate at Cardiff because a wonderkid has turned up - Adam Matthews - who is in the £5m category. He has signed here for six months and we are hoping to kick-start his career. I've talked to the Wales under-21 manager and all sorts of people, and they were all confident that he will settle in the Championship. I am very friendly with Dave Jones and he has reiterated everything everyone else has said."
Paul Sturrock is still trying to add another couple of players to his squad but is unsure whether any deals would be done before the visit of Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow. Sturrock has been away on a scouting trip this week and saw Hull City play Southend United in the Carling Cup on Tuesday. He was watching Hull right-back Nathan Doyle, but has decided not to follow up his interest. Sturrock was at another game on Wednesday night and said: "I have been able to tick off some people and get excited about others. I'm now talking to certain football clubs and agents to see about the availability of players. At the same time, I'm very hopeful several of my players will move on." When asked whether there would be any new arrivals before the weekend, Sturrock replied: "I'm looking into that. I can't promise anything, but I would like to think we could do a deal with somebody for one position. But while we are looking for players, other football clubs are doing exactly the same. We are trying to be competitive for one or two players that three or fours clubs are interested in. There is one player I would take permanently if I could prise him out of his football club. It might be a loan before a permanent transfer." There are several players that Sturrock would allow to leave Home Park, either permanently or on loan but, as yet, no deals have been done. He said: "We thought we had one or two on Wednesday but they fell through, which was disappointing, but we just live in hope. It's important that certain players at this football club move on and allow themselves to have careers. Too many people in this day and age sit down and think their contract is the important thing. I might be old school, but playing football was important to me. Yes, money is always nice, but you get paid to play football. When people don't play football and they think that their contracts are more important, that disappoints me." Sturrock admitted Argyle would consider paying off players who were under contract but did not figure in his future plans. He said: "It would have to suit the club financially, but I would be quite willing to go down the road of that." Sturrock also added that a possible loan deal for George Donnelly to move to a League Two club has fallen through. Sturrock did confirm that an unnamed Japanese goalkeeper is currently training with the squad.
Carl Fletcher has insisted there will be no hangover from the defeat at Derby when Argyle play Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow. He said: "We have taken the positives out of the Derby game and, at the same time, we have taken the negatives and tried to turn them around. The thing with the Championship is that it can change from one week to another. There are so many games and you have to put disappointments to the back of your mind and get on with the next game. We know it's going to be tough against Sheffield Wednesday because they have got a lot of good players. But I think the feeling at the minute is that we maybe haven't got the results our hard work and effort has deserved. Sometimes in football it works that way. The run of the ball can go half-an-inch one way or half-an-inch the other, and it can be the difference between winning and losing. Some days you can feel like you have played well and worked hard and you don't get anything out of a game. On another day you can come away thinking, 'How the hell did we win that?' You can't get too down about the results. You have got to keep going and, invariably, things turn around in football. The more work and effort you put in, it should even itself out." Argyle have only two points after four league games and have also scored only four times. Fletcher said: "We defend as a team and it's the same with attacking. It's not solely on the forwards to get goals. I think everyone can see it's not through a lack of effort at the minute. The lads are trying out there and we are working hard. We are working hard every day in training and I'm a firm believer that you get out of it what you put into it. Hopefully, that means we should get some more points on the board soon." The game against Sheffield Wednesday will be the last for a fortnight because of an international break and Fletcher believes it would be a timely boost for Argyle to go into the break on the back of a victory. He added: "Whenever you get a little break like this, it's nice to finish off on a win. It makes the next 10 days or so a lot more enjoyable. With me retiring from international football, it's going to be a new experience for me. Because there are so many games in the Championship, I think you need these little breaks. You don't really get time to recover from little niggles, knocks and bruises otherwise."
Paul Sturrock seems set to try out a new-look strikeforce against Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow, with Alan Gow and Cillian Sheridan expected to be paired together for the first time. Sturrock said: "It was gut-wrenching to concede the second goal against Derby so late on. But there were some reasonable performances through the 90 minutes. So there will not be what you would call wholesale changes, but there will definitely be some changes, enabling me to start creating the team that I think is on the verge of pushing on." David McNamee faces a late fitness test on the ankle injury he suffered at Derby. Sturrock said: "McNamee will be given every opportunity to be fit for tomorrow."
Bradley Wright-Phillips faces another three weeks before he can return to training and Paul Sturrock hopes that when fit, he will provide the goals Argyle have been lacking. Sturrock said: "It was a huge blow to us. We were all excited about what he was looking like in training. He was getting sharper every day and now he's back to square one because of this injury. But Maxie is working him very hard to get him fit again, and he's looking better and better. I said all along that he was brought in to score the goals we were missing out. If you go on YouTube and type in the name Bradley Wright-Phillips you will see him scoring all sorts of goals. He probably hasn't scored enough, and I think he has had a career where he has allowed himself to just saunter along. But he has got it in his mind now that he has to go and grab any opportunity of progressing in football. So I think we have got a player on our hands who is totally committed to doing well at this football club and scoring the goals we need. We are going to give him that opportunity."
Paul Sturrock has run out of patience with some of his strikers over their lack of goals and has vowed he will now be turning to recent signings Alan Gow, Cillian Sheridan and Bradley Wright-Phillips. He said: "We haven't scored the goals I would have expected and, as far as that's concerned, a new strikeforce has been brought in to take us forward as a football club. Unfortunately, we haven't seen that forward line yet. But, as soon as Bradley is fit, it's my aim now to put those three players into a mix as far as our strikeforce is concerned. I think the other players can have no argument about it because there is a lack of goals. There has been a lack of goals for the last 18 months from the strikeforce I have. At the end of the day, they will pay the penalty for that. But the important thing is there is a competition for places. I think that's the key to it all." Sturrock has also been frustrated by some of his team's defensive deficiencies this season. He added: "We pride ourselves on being a solid defensive unit, but that has been disappointing as well. It's something I'm going to look at in the next couple of weeks. We need to bring in players who will put pressure on the ones who are in the team at this minute in time, or to take over the position of the ones who are in the team. I call on the squad, as a whole, to stand up and be counted. We need to kick on and if we were to pick up three points on Saturday it would be a reasonable start given the opposition we have played. The aim is to put ourselves in the mid-pack with a good result on Saturday. We are going to be in transition for a wee bit longer because, obviously, we want to add to the squad. But we have to start winning football games as well because confidence can be eroded. The players are up for this challenge, and I think you saw that against Derby with their combativeness throughout the 90 minutes."
Karl Duguid will miss Argyle's game against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday because of the ankle injury he suffered at Derby County, but David McNamee and Cillian Sheridan are both expected to be fit. Paul Sturrock said: "Karl’s injury is quite a bad one. The ankle is sore, it's black and blue and it's well swollen. He's going to miss Saturday and we will take it from there. McNamee is not training yet but is hopeful he will be back into it by Thursday and available for Saturday. Cillian is going to do a wee bit of striking and running this morning and if he feels okay he is going to join in the rest of the training." Alan Judge was substituted at Derby because of a sore ankle, but it was not a serious injury. Sturrock said: "Judgie's not as bad as we first envisaged, so I am sure he will train and we will just have to see what reaction he has. He had rolled his ankle just before I took him off. You could see him limping when he came off the field." Bradley Wright-Phillips and Chris Barker could both be back in first team contention by the end of September. Sturrock said: "Bradley is just starting to build up his pace, and Barker is doing the same thing. Barker's injury is a wee bit worrying. If you over-exert yourself you can go back to square one with that one."
Simon Walton has returned to Home Park after an unsuccessful trial with Scunthorpe United. Paul Sturrock said: "Walton has come back after his trial time at Scunthorpe. We get on with it."
George Donnelly could be set for a loan move to a League Two club. Paul Sturrock would not confirm the identity of the club, but admitted talks were taking place. He said: "We were supposed to play against Elburton Villa tonight but that was cancelled. So it means that's another week without George getting a game. One club in League Two have come in for him and I'm very interested in doing something with them. I have got another player who needs games and he's maybe going to a club in League One. That's a decision to be made by the other club."
Damien McCrory completed a loan move to Port Vale on Monday and Paul Sturrock believes it will be good for his development. He said: "I think that's a fantastic move for him. He came back a much better player last time. I have got several other young players I will be doing the same with. It all depends on who people want. We have got to get as many of our development players as possible out on loan. Last season, Barnes and Smith went to Eastbourne. This year, Head, Mason, Gerring and Brett are all ones I want to see developing."
Paul Sturrock has no intention of quitting as Argyle manager. "I am going nowhere," he said. "I have got a challenge that I knew would be huge when I came back. I knew I was going to have rough parts to my career back at Argyle. I am totally, totally committed to turning this football club around. I start to see signs of when we were here last time, of changes to personnel, and it clicked into place - we can do the same again. We have had five very successful years and that has been a progression I want to keep. The only way we can keep that is by staying in this league. That will be our aim for this season - the first year of our five-year plan." Sturrock called on the fans to get behind the team in this transitional period. He said: "It is important, as a manager, to monitor situations at a football club and the first people that should know are the fans. At times in the past, this football club has sauntered along and there have been a lot of criticisms that we have not enabled our fans to really have an insight into where we're going. This Board has shown a freshness and a commitment to the football club in a big way. There are an awful lot of things; the World Cup, the stadium, the training ground and everything else that has been taken on board, and they are going to be developing that side of it. At the same time, a five-year plan is being slowly brought into play. When that happens, football clubs go into transition, probably more of a transition than I expected. We have brought several players in. Johnson, Arnason, Gow, Wright-Phillips, Sheridan have all come in and giving them their opportunities has been a very slow process. I went back to the squad of last year to break us into the season. As far as football fans are concerned, they would like all their new signings to play from day one - that is sometimes difficult. We have already explained the problems with Johnson's communication, Arnason's fitness, Wright-Phillips has been taken away from us through injury and Sheridan and Gow are very new to the whole thing. I have looked at other football clubs, like Ipswich and Nottingham Forest, who have remoulded their squads, and how much they're in transition as well. They are obviously appreciative of their performances but the results have not come at the same time, and I think we are very much in that mould at this moment. I am excited, and it is not often I use that word in a football sense, due to what I've seen on the training ground and what I've seen in the matches up to this point. We have played the top of the league side, and they merit top of the league after watching them play Bristol City the other day. They are a formidable squad of players, who I think will be in the top three near enough the whole season, unless injuries are a factor. We have also played away from home against a strong Crystal Palace side and Derby County, one of the main spenders in the league. It has been a difficult start for us as far as results are concerned. If a home fan looks at these games, the results have not gone our way. If you're an away fan and you've watched some of the games we've played, you're obviously going to take heart from some of the performances. We were not out of sorts in any way against Derby on Saturday. There have been several players given the opportunity from last season and I sometimes have to hold my hand up and say I've maybe given them more opportunities than their performances have merited. We have not scored the goals that I would have expected and a new strike-force has been brought in to take us forward. That forward-line has not been allowed to tiptoe onto the green baize yet but that's my aim now - to put those players into a mix. The other players can have no argument because there is a lack of goals. There has been a lack of goals for 18 months with the strike-force I have, and they will pay the penalty for that. It is important there is competition for places. What we pride ourselves on as a unit, defensively, has been disappointing as well, and it is something I am going to look into over the next couple of weeks - to bring the type of player to this club to put pressure on, or take over from, the ones in position. I call on the squad to stand up and be counted - we need to kick-on. If we were to pick up three points on Saturday, it would be a reasonable start with the type of opposition we've played, and that is our aim. We would put ourselves in the middle with three points on Saturday and we obviously have difficult games coming up. The league has got much harder than last season. We are going to be in transition for a bit longer because we want to add more players, but we have to start winning football games. The players are up for this challenge. We saw that on Saturday with their combativeness through the 90 minutes. We need the supporters to be appreciative that this is an ongoing process. There are all sorts of rumours about Paul Sturrock, and whether he is here or not. There is a five-year plan in position. My Board have been supportive and I am very pleased with their support. They are appreciative; the whole club is appreciative, that we are going in the right direction. We will not be quickened up or panicked with knee-jerk reactions to some results. We have a job of work to be done between now and when the finance comes into the football club to enable us to reinforce our squad. That has been reiterated by the Board and it will be vitally important for us to be competitive over the next five years. I am in contact with the Chairman and Keith Todd on a daily basis and we are all in this together. We hope to tie up together over the next week to really discuss the squad of players we have at the football club and the direction we want to take the team. We have to put ourselves in an area of the league where we can relax, to give us the timeframe to bring the finance these people can bring. Even though the budget is important, they are very receptive to me bringing in loan players to bolster the squad. I would like to say to fans that I am a 35-year veteran in this game. I am hard-skinned. It is the key to being a football manager. Giving me stick is part of the job and I am receptive to the frustrations of football fans. I would just ask them to keep off the backs of the players. Keep giving it me, if they think it is merited, but be appreciative that the team is giving as much as it can. We have got to be positive. This Board is very positive, very fresh and they want all the right things to happen at this football club."
Paul Sturrock has challenged Krisztian Timar to force his way back into the team after the defender did not travel to Derby on Saturday. He said: "Krisztian is an experienced player and I did not want him to travel to a football game where I wasn't going to use him," he said. "I see no sense in that because you can tire people out, whereas Krisztian's had a rested weekend, ready for the challenge to get back in the team. Like any footballer, when they're not in the team, they want to know. We have had a discussion. It was very amicable. He is a professional man and appreciative of the challenge."
Paul Sturrock will spend the next two days assessing loan targets. "I am going north today, watching games and coming home Thursday morning," he said. "My staff will be watching games as well. I'm going to see two games and my staff will see another two. The aim is to hopefully bring in a couple of loan players to cover our problems at this minute in time. We have targeted and talked to some managers, who are then going to play some of the players. The managers have marked our card on the availability of certain players, and that they will play, so we do know that our targets will be playing in the games we are going to watch."
Paul Sturrock faces a dilemma surrounding the future of Kyle Letheren. He said: "The problem for Kyle is that we can't get any games. He is a nice lad and he has done very well. He has been very professional in his approach, we're pleased with him in training but the proof is in the pudding of games. If I gave him a contract and then didn't like what I saw in the two reserve games, it would be very unprofessional of me to finish up with a goalkeeper in no-man's land. We have two reserve games but the problem is the deadline comes in on Monday and, if he is a registered player and we then didn't fancy him over the two reserve games, he would finish up with nowhere to go until January. We're looking into safeguarding him from that scenario. I would hope to think he will play two reserve games in the next two weeks but we are in the lap of the gods with the rules and regulations. We tried to arrange one this week but everybody's obviously got Carling Cup games and everything else." Sturrock is pursuing the option of using Letheren as a trialist so the he would not be registered, and therefore still able to leave Home Park as a free agent after the window. "Either we take a chance with no goalie on the bench to see one game of him. The problem is then I can't sign him," Sturrock said. "He can cancel his registration so it means he has to be able to find a job, but he can't register for a football club after the window. The other problem we've got is we're not sure if he can go back to the same club he has been registered with and sign again, and how many registrations are you allowed in one season?"
Rory Fallon is one of five Argyle players who will be on international duty next month. Fallon has been called up by New Zealand for a friendly in Jordan on September 9th. Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan will be away with the Republic of Ireland under-21s for their game in Estonia on the same day and Reda Johnson has been named in Benin's squad for their World Cup qualifier at home to Mali on September 6th. Also, Joe Mason has been selected in the Republic of Ireland under-19s squad for a Four Nations Tournament with Holland, Turkey and Portugal to be played in Dublin and Bray from September 5th to 8th.
Argyle are still searching for a settled playing formation this season and Paul Sturrock does not expect his team to stick to one shape until he can call upon his full allocation of attacking players. He said: "If we can get settled, we can be a good team. The injuries have affected us. We still have our two pace players – Wright-Phillips and Sheridan – to come back into the fold." Sturrock knows that two points from four games is far from satisfactory, but he maintained that his team merited more. "Taking the Cardiff game into consideration, we deserved to lose," he said. "We were beaten by a better team. In the two games before that, there's a debate that we could have taken something more out of the games, and I felt a draw would have been a fair result on Saturday. We deserved to take something out of the Derby game." Argyle do not have a midweek match this week, which will allow Sturrock to embark on a scouting trip, but he would prefer an Argyle assignment. "My worry is that it's seven days until we play again," he added. "I'd rather have a game tomorrow, to get the frustration out of the team. We're going to have to be on top of our game, because Wednesday beat Scunthorpe 4-0 at the weekend, and we have to put some points on the board."
Kari Arnason was inconsolable after his Argyle debut ended in defeat against Derby County. Miles Addison scored a 90th minute winner and Arnason admitted he should have been picking him up when the ball was played into the area. He said: "It was my fault. It was my man who scores the goal. It's hard when it goes to the back post like that, but it was my fault. It was a horrible way for my debut to end. We had the chances to win the game but we didn't take them, and we got a slap in our face at the last minute. I think the team's work ethic today was brilliant, and I felt we played a very good away game. But two sloppy goals from corners have cost us the game. It's a terrific stadium and the atmosphere was great. I enjoyed the game until the last minute." Arnason had not played as a centre-back for a couple of years, but felt comfortable alongside Marcel Seip. He said: "Me and Marcel had a good connection in this game. I thought it was okay."
Paul Sturrock is stepping up his search for a new right-back after David McNamee and Karl Duguid suffered ankle injuries on Saturday. Sturrock said: "Yes, I'm going to have to travel to two or three games this week, to see if there is anything that slaps me in the face. We have to bring somebody in at right-back. But there is also one other position I want to strengthen as well." Sturrock is thought to be keen on adding another centre-back to his squad, although he would not confirm that. "You can surmise anything you want," he added. Sturrock has been strongly linked with another loan move for David Gray but said: "I think United have decided they would like to sell David and, at this minute in time, that's not feasible for me. Somebody on a loan or a free from a football club is what I need to be looking for."
Carl Fletcher was shown a yellow card after the final whistle against Derby after a rant at referee Craig Pawson. Derby's winning goal came from the third of three consecutive corners and Fletcher thought Argyle should have been awarded a free-kick immediately before that. Paul Sturrock said: "I think there was a foul before the first of those corners. He wasn't too happy about that and the frustration came out. In a way, sometimes I'm quite happy to see that because it shows people care."
Damien McCrory has re-joined Port Vale on a one-month loan.
Argyle’s youth team lost 5-2 to Bournemouth on Saturday, both goals scored by Sean Kinsella. Argyle: Chenoweth, Leonard, Nelson, Trott, Clifford, Harper-Penman, Young, Kinsella, Baker; Rickard, Head. Subs - Copp, Sawyer (not used - Troupe, Coombes, Clarvis).
A 90th-minute goal gave Derby County a 2-1 win over Argyle yesterday, leaving Paul Sturrock devastated. "I'm gutted," he said. "I'm gutted for the players. I think they gave everything they had under difficult circumstances. We had a centre-back making his first appearance for the club and we had to use three right-backs in a 90-minute game. We weren't able to make the substitutions that would have affected the game for us, but it looked as though our hard work and desire would give us a result, of sorts. Football is a strange game that kicks you in the teeth at times. I feel real heart-sorry for the boys." Argyle took the lead through a first-half Alan Judge penalty and had a chance to win the game late on through Jamie Mackie. Sturrock said: "I thought we'd weathered the storm. In fact, a minute before, we probably should have scored up the other end. Derby go straight back down the park, we don't defend the corners well enough to clear; and it finishes up that the last one is the killer. Jamie's not lacking in confidence, but I think his head's a wee bit down. There have been two or three games now when he's had the opportunity to get on the scoresheet with what I would have called easy finishes." Despite the defeat, and two points from their opening four matches, Sturrock believes that things are not too far off from clicking for Argyle. He said: "When I look at the team and the games we've played, we are a better side than we were last year, no doubt about it, but two of the forward-line that we were going to be using -Sheridan and Wright-Phillips - haven't been available to us. We have the pace of Sheridan and Wright-Philips to come back into the fold. Added to that, there's still two other positions we have to strengthen, big time, the quicker in the season, the better. This week, if at all possible. Trying to do that, at the same time as winning football games, can be very difficult, at times. We were a good team away from home last year, and I think we have shown that we are going to be resilient away from home - we are going to be hard to beat, and we can steal things." Sturrock chose not to start with Alan Gow yesterday, and said: "I just felt he didn't know any of the players, really, how they play and everything else - he will need a full week to get to know everybody and where we are coming from." Sturrock was then prevented from bringing Gow into play after losing Karl Duguid and David McNamee to identical ankle injuries. Sturrock said: "Duguid's one was a naughty tackle; McNamee rolled his ankle. He couldn't play on. They are both swollen up, so we'll wait and see." Sturrocks thoughts now turn to next Saturday's game with Sheffield Wednesday and Sturrock added: "We're going to have to be at the top of our game. Wednesday won 4-0 today, but we have to put three points on the board."
Paul Sturrock has predicted big things from Kari Arnason after his debut at Derby County yesterday. "I thought he was outstanding," said Sturrock. "He did everything right that we were looking for. I think he'll be real asset to the football club. I don't see him playing there as a regular occurrence - just ahead of that is where he'll find a niche. I think his aerial threat in both boxes will be a great benefit to us." Arnason was drafted in to take the place of Krisztian Timar, who did not travel despite playing in all three Championship matches so far this season. Sturrock said: "There's no point in bringing along a player who's not going to get stripped. We're just tiring a player out. It's a waste of energy. I made a conscious decision I was going to go with Arnason today, and I feel Reda Johnson is good coverage on the bench. I'm sure Krisztian and I will have a conversation before long."Sturrock assigned no blame to Arnason for Derby's last-minute goal. He added: "Romain's held his hands up. He shouted that he was going to take it and Arnie's left it to him. The next minute, it's in the back of the net."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Derby County, the goal sored by Alan Judge after 17 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Arnason, Seip, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, Duguid, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs – Summerfield, Clark, Johnson (not used – MacLean, Gow, Barnes, Letheren). Attendance - 26,186
Bradley Wright-Phillips hopes of a successful start to his career with Argyle were scuppered by a knee injury only five days before season kicked off but he is still smiling, and determined to return to action as soon as possible. He said: "It was frustrating when it happened, and I found out how long I was going to be out. You could get depressed, or you could just try to get fit, and that's what I'm trying to do." Wright-Phillips was injured in a practice match with Exeter City. He said: "It wasn't a bad tackle or anything. I tried to turn on the ball and their player got his body there, in front of mine. I just remember feeling my knee lock, and I knew it was quite a serious one. It has been two weeks already, and I have still got about a month left." Wright-Phillips was allowed by Paul Sturrock to spend a couple of weeks in London with his family after his knee surgery. "I have got a seven-month-old daughter, Riley, and I hadn't seen her for a while, so it was good to go up there," he said. While he was in London, Argyle started the season with a draw at Crystal Palace. He said: "I went to watch the game and I thought we looked good for about an hour. The Cardiff game wasn't so good, but that's how it goes. Get them out of the way early." Wright-Phillips is now spending a lot of time working with Paul Maxwell on his rehabilitation. He said: "I have done some running, and I have also been doing some upper body weights in the gym. It's a good little programme I have got. Hopefully, if it all goes well, I will be back by the end of September. It's just like doing pre-season again because I haven't done anything for two weeks. I have got to do a mini pre-season now – and I'm not a big fan of pre-season anyway! I don't like it at all so it's horrible to have to do two of them." Paul Sturrock has added two strikers to his squad recently, so when he returns to training Wright-Phillips will face competition for places. He said: "I think that's what we need. Whoever is scoring, or whoever is playing well, will be in the team. That will make the other strikers play better." While frustrated by his injury lay-off, Wright-Phillips wants to get something out of the situation. He said: "When you watch from the stand it makes you think about your game and you can learn a lot."
Paul Sturrock believes the Championship will be more fiercely contested than ever before this season. He said: "This is the first year I would say finances are dictating this league. It wasn't as severe a problem before, but people are now chucking a lot of money at their teams. So every game is going to be difficult, and Derby are no different. They have signed quite a lot of players. They have had a rollercoaster start to the season, as many teams have had." Sturrock admitted that Derby striker Rob Hulse would be one of the main threats to Argyle today. He said: "He seems to have the knack of scoring against Plymouth Argyle. We have to be much more thoughtful when the other team has got the ball. I think we have overemphasised the passing and the shape of the team. The one thing I never thought I would have to start going down the road of again was, 'You have got to be here when they have got the ball'. I thought that was plain and simple and it was part of our remit. But, lo and behold, it has reared its ugly head. People forget these kind of things and now we are re-emphasising them again."
Chris Clark will have to bide his time for a first team call-up, according to Paul Sturrock. He said: "Chris and I have had a chat. I made it plain to everyone at the beginning of pre-season that the people who did well in the friendlies would get the jerseys, and that's exactly how I did it. Chris is appreciative that people have played slightly better than him in one or two positions and he's quite happy to bide his time to stake a claim."
Argyle seem set to be without Cillian Sheridan for the trip to Derby County tomorrow. Sheridan suffered a thigh injury on Tuesday and Paul Sturrock admitted he would not take any chances with him. He said: "Cillian has got a haematoma in his thigh – a dead leg, a charley horse, whatever you want to call it. It's a severe one and he will be touch and go for tomorrow. I won't take a chance with him because another couple of kicks on it could make it even worse and he could be out long term. We have no game next week, which will enable him to be ready for the following Saturday." Sturrock has also confirmed that it will be some time before Chris Barker makes his comeback. He said: "Chris is more long term than we thought. It's quite a severe tear and it's in one of those places where if you move about on it too much it can reopen and cause the same problem again. We are going softly-softly with him, so I can't really put a time-frame on it. But it's not a nice injury." Sturrock is hoping Bradley Wright-Phillips will be back in action by the end of September. He said: "The physio has got him jogging and we will build him up from there. We actually need Bradley. He gives us a different complexion to our forward line. He gives us somebody that can go beyond defences with his pace, and he's also a reasonable finisher. We have definitely missed his contribution." Sturrock was keeping his options open about who would lead the attack against Derby. He added: "I have got to decide what type of strikers I want to blend together up there. Last season, we were very successful for a spell away from home with Rory as our target man and we ran off him. Then we had a spell where Ashley Barnes and Jamie Mackie did a sterling job for us. We went to places like Birmingham and Wolves and got results. So there is a lot for me to take into consideration."
Reda Johnson and Kari Arnason are both still waiting to make their first appearances for Argyle but could be given their debuts at Derby County tomorrow. Paul Sturrock said: "The language has been a problem for Reda, and Arnie's fitness levels weren't up to standard. But I'm comfortable with both of them now, that they are getting into the swing of things, so they come into my thoughts for tomorrow. The only way we are going to make a judgement on these players is when they get into battle conditions." Sturrock was critical of centre-backs Marcel Seip and Krisztian Timar after the defeat by Cardiff City on Tuesday and he is unrepentant about making those comments. He said: "It's the poorest I have ever seen the two of them play individually and collectively. Whether that takes them out of the team or not, let's wait and see." Johnson has not played much first team football so putting him into the side against Derby would be a gamble but Arnason could be a candidate, even though he was signed primarily as a midfielder. Sturrock said: "You have got to remember that Arnason has played a lot of his career at centre-back. He has played there several times for the national team. He has that in his locker as well. I have got to weigh up what's the best pairing for the team at centre-back. I'm open minded at the moment. I have still got to read the Pro-Zone reports on Derby."
Paul Sturrock has admitted Steve MacLean was 'disappointed' to be dropped from the squad for the game against Cardiff. Sturrock was asked about MacLean yesterday, and whether the club would now listen to any offers for him. He replied: "We are open to offers for all of our players until the end of August because we have got to get inside budget. Obviously, there are players I don't want to lose but the budget is vitally important because of the circumstances we are in. Steve is disappointed, but you have got to remember he has played in three of the games. He has committed himself to being an off-the-front player now and selection comes with comparison to others who can play in the same position."
Paul Sturrock believes the pressure of playing at Home Park, which caused a disappointing home record last season, has continued into the new campaign. "There is less pressure away from home," he said. "The players are comfortable away from home, as the Crystal Palace game proved. If we can take that Crystal Palace performance into the game on Saturday, we will be competitive. We had a torrid season at home; the worst home record in the league. There is an apprehension at times. The game against QPR, we got back into it, and even the other night against Cardiff had we taken one of our chances, it could have been different."
Argyle have launched a bid to host matches at the 2018 World Cup if it is held in England. The plan would see a new 40,000-capacity stadium built in Plymouth and Chairman Roy Gardner said: "We are starting some way behind the other cities, but we've been given the green light by the FA so we're going for it 100 per cent." A new company, Plymouth World Cup Bid Ltd, has been set up to organise the bid and its supporters include Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council, Cornwall Council, the University of Plymouth and the Plymouth City Development Company. As well as a new 40,000-seater stadium to replace Home Park ground, for which plans are being drawn up as a priority, the bid includes plans for modern training facilities in South Devon and Cornwall and investment in transport, hotel and leisure facilities in Plymouth and the surrounding area.
Alan Gow played 30 games in the Championship last season, which was enough to give him a good idea of what the division is all about. "The Championship is a great league to play in," he said. "It's competitive, and everybody can beat each other. Cardiff are a good team. They came here and they played well, but you're only as good as your last game. We got beaten, so we need to pick ourselves up. We'll have to try and get something from the next game." Gow began Tuesday's game on the bench but made his entrance before half-time, when Cillian Sheridan was injured. "You're never happy to be on the bench, so I was happy to get on early doors, but it was a shame for Cillian," Gow said. "Hopefully, the injury isn't too bad. It looks like he might miss the Derby game this weekend, but hopefully he'll be back next week." Gow has no such injuries to deal with. "I'm fit and ready to play," he added. "Wolves said I'd failed my medical last season because of a tear in my hip, but I'd never had a problem with or any pain in my hip. I did have a problem with a tight hamstring, but it didn't have any effect on my hip. Rangers sent to me see a specialist, who said I didn't need an operation. I went out on loan to Norwich and played again. The hip never stopped me playing, and neither did my hamstring."
Cillian Sheridan is hoping that the injury he suffered on Tuesday night will not keep him out for too long. He said: "I probably couldn't have had a worse full debut, but hopefully I can bounce back and get another chance to start the next game â€“ if I am fit for it. I don't know yet if I will be fit, but hopefully I will. I will try my best to be anyway." Anthony Gerrard was booked for the tackle but Sheridan holds no grudges. "The ball was up high and I've just got in a head of him and his boot has followed through into me," he said. "It's just one of those things that can happen and unfortunately it did." Sheridan had come as a second half replacement against QPR and had been hoping to build on that on Tuesday. "Things started off well there in my first game on Saturday," he said. "But I would have liked the team to have won that one and won on Tuesday. But it does not always happen. We definitely had chances and on another day they might have gone in." Sheridan and Alan Gow have both only had a few training sessions with their new team-mates, but he hopes it will not take long for them to settle into the team and start putting the chances away. "Sometimes it does take a bit of time, but then sometimes it can just click instantly," he added. "Hopefully, it can happen sooner than later."
Alan Gow is confident he can score the goals that move up the table. Gow made his debut against Cardiff and finished the evening with a goal from a penalty. He said: "Obviously it was a bad result for the team, although there was a positive for myself as I got a goal â€“ a soft penalty. But there is still a long way to go in the season. We are only a few games into the campaign, so hopefully we can pick up. There was a point in the game when we probably were on top, but unfortunately we didn't score and then we lost a couple of goals. Once that happened it was hard to get back into it. Things might have turned out differently if we had scored earlier on. We probably would have had the upper hand then, but it didn't go that way. Cardiff, though, are a good side. They have got a lot of good players. Chopra has obviously had a lot of Premier League experience, but we now have to consolidate and come back from this game and look to the weekend. There are no easy games in this league, but we have to pick ourselves up and try and get something from the Derby game." Gow knows Argyle have to start finding the net and is confident he can do that. "I'd like to think I can," he said. "This is a tough league and if you don't take your chances you will get punished, so we do need to look at that going into the next game." Gow showed no nerves as he stepped up to take the penalty against Cardiff. He added: "I don't get nervous. However, it was my pal in goal, David Marshall, so I did decided to change sides because I thought he would probably know I would go to the other. I know him from Glasgow and we were at Norwich together." Gow is now looking for his first Argyle start. He said: "I had only trained two days with the team so I did not really expect to start. I had also been injured last week at Rangers. I had missed a week's training, so it was just good to be involved. I certainly did not really expect to go on so early, but it was just good to play. I know some of the boys from back home in Scotland. And I have been about enough now to know that it is my job. I just go wherever football takes me."
Argyle's early struggles continued when they were beaten by Cardiff City last night and Paul Sturrock admitted they had been beaten by a better side. "I am bitterly disappointed with the result," he said. "You cannot play a quality side like that with the way our two centre-backs performed in the first-half. They weren't anywhere near the pace of the game, to the standards they have achieved individually, and together. After a wee chat at half-time, they were much better as a pairing, and we were able to get on the front foot and get around their box a lot more. It is a simple game made hard by footballers. Take nothing away from Cardiff - they have got a team further down the road than us. They are well down the road as a solid unit. They have a lot of good players who have played there for a long time, and they've played in high standards. It is going to take us a lot longer to be the finished unit. We are not going to be able to just all of a sudden go hell for leather. There was one other manager, Roy Keane, I actually read and I took his point - he's brought a whole load of players together and he is trying to get that unit to work. I've been a wee bit slower in my development of the players that have come in, due to circumstance. The new owners have been very thoughtful in their approach and they have already mooted to me that it is a five-year plan to get a good team together. We have worked very hard in pre-season training to give us another option as far as playing is concerned, but there is nothing you can do when certain individual players play to the standards they did tonight." Sturrocks problems were increased by an injury to Cillian Sheridan, who will be out for at least a fortnight. The result however, could have been very different, if Jamie Mackie had taken a glorious chance to equalise before half-time. Sturrock said: "We have gone down the road of people that played for us last season. If Jamie puts that ball in the net in the first-half, the whole complexion of the game can turn. We would be walking in at half-time 1-1, instead of still 1-0, but, I'll say it again, you cannot defend the way we did in the first-half. It set the tone for the whole game and the second goal was a killer. It was again a poor defensive error that cost us dearly. Sheridan was a blow tonight. He has got a haematoma in his thigh, so he's going to struggle for a couple of weeks. Gow had to come on in an environment I did not want him to be in to too early. He did ok but it is finding their feet, and getting them all together, and getting the right shape on the football pitch. Gow has got fantastic talent and great vision. Sheridan and Wright-Phillips have come to this football club for one reason. Basically, the strike-force that has been here for the last 18 months have not come up with the goods as far as goals are concerned. These three boys were brought to see if they are the answer, but Sheridan's now out, and Bradley's out. It means the opportunity falls to the strike-force that has been here to keep them from getting into the team - that is the challenge they have now. There are certain players that got themselves selected at the start of the season through their performances in pre-season, but it has now got to the stage that their performances are not up to the standards they were achieving earlier on." Sturrock received criticism for replacing Alan Judge towards the end of last nights game, but he added: "The Judge affair tonight, and that's twice I've taken him off now, and he has been doing very well, but I just felt he had run his race tonight. We needed somebody to come on with that zest and Nooney brings that to the game. Judgey has done very well and there was nothing untoward in taking him off." Sturrock guaranteed one thing for the game at Derby County on Saturday: "There will be changes," he said.
Argyle lost 3-1 to Cardiff City at Home Park, the goal scored by Alan Gow after 90 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Timar, Seip, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, Paterson, Mackie, Sheridan, Fallon. Subs – Gow, Noone (not used – Duguid, Arnason, Summerfield, Johnson, Letheren). Attendance - 11,918
Paul Sturrock will find out tonight whether Argyle have learned their lessons from the draw with QPR on Saturday. He said: "As Saturday unfolded, you could see that QPR have quality players who can hurt you. I see Cardiff being no different. In fact, I think their strikeforce is more potent than QPR's so if we aren't on our mettle we could cause ourselves a lot of concern. But we have got to take some positives from Saturday. We kept fighting right until the last whistle and in the second half we did get around their box and create several chances. I would like us to do that from the kick-off tonight. We have worked very hard at taking the ball at the back and trying to pass it. QPR made it difficult for us and we didn't really push ourselves to get into the right positions. It was something we worked on in training yesterday. We did get a bit of joy off Rory early on but, over the piece, I think it's important that we mix it up. It will give us two avenues of attack – we can take the ball at the back and we can also play the ball long to Rory from goal kicks." Sturrock was angry at the way Argyle defended in the defeat at Gillingham in the Carling Cup last week, but his critical comments had an unwanted consequence against QPR. He said: "Our full-backs didn't get forward as much as I would have liked. That was maybe after the emphasis from me that we had to be solid after the disappointment of the Gillingham game. I think people took me to the extreme, so we have to let them loose a bit to get more crosses into attacking areas from them. The important thing is that we show the same the mental approach as we did on Saturday." Argyle's perseverance against QPR was rewarded with a goal in the third minute of stoppage time and Sturrock added: "That was a great lift for everybody at the football club. We didn't do that very often last season. When we went behind, we normally lost the match. Now it would be nice to put a win on the board tonight." Cardiff will arrive at Home Park without injured striker Ross McCormack but Sturrock insisted they still had a lot of talent. He said: "McCormack is a tricky wee player who scores a lot of goals, but Chopra is still about. Burke is coming in, they have got Bothroyd and Ledley has a finish in him. They have sold certain players and brought other players in and they never weaken themselves with their signings. Where they can pitch their tent as far as wages are concerned, they are bringing real quality in. It's always a tussle against Cardiff and I have been involved in the bad, good and indifferent over the years. Dave Jones is a very shrewd manager and he has a good squad of players. But Blackpool got in their faces and caused them a lot of concern. That's what we are going to have to do."
Cillian Sheridan could make his first start for Argyle tonight and Alan Gow has been added to the squad for the visit of Cardiff. Paul Sturrock has not ruled out putting both of them in the starting line-up and he said: "I could do it, and I wouldn't be afraid to do it. I think Sheridan was a tonic to us on Saturday. He gave us something different and it enabled me to see him in battle conditions." A decision on whether to start Gow, or name him among the substitutes, could come down to his fitness levels. Sturrock said: "That's something we are going to have to look into. We have got a free week next week, so we will have a wee rattle at him then, to see what his general fitness is like. I don't think Sheridan and him have had as many games as our boys, but they are young laddies, so I'm very expectant they are going to handle. But if we have to top them up, we have to top them up." Sturrock admitted there were several reasons why he decided not to start Sheridan against QPR. He said: "Cillian didn't know the players and didn't know the set pieces. I didn't want to put him into an environment where he might struggle, not having seen him tested in any practice matches, or anything else like that. I just felt it would be inappropriate, but he definitely was a bonus in my mind to what I'm looking for."
Simon Walton is currently on trial with Scunthorpe United.
George Donnelly is being lined up for a loan move away from Home Park. Donnelly has returned to full training after recovering from a torn hamstring and Paul Sturrock will be contacting other clubs alerting them to his availability. He said: "George Donnelly needs games and I think he would be ideal for some team to take for a month or two. He's fit and raring to go, and he's desperate for a game. So that would be one way of getting him back up to speed very quickly." Sturrock is also keen on loan moves for several of his young professionals, such as Ryan Brett, Ben Gerring, Liam Head, Joe Mason and Damien McCrory. Sturrock added: "I have had a word with several of my players about their availability to go out on loan, especially the young ones, as well as McCrory. The benefits shown by Barnesy means it is vitally important these players go out for development."
Jamie Mackie could not quite bring himself to claim Argyle's last-gasp equaliser in the draw against QPR. Mackie was initially credited with the goal, but after the game admitted: "There was a big crowd in the box, and I think the ball bounced off a couple of defenders. It went in the back of the net. They can give it to who they want they give it to, but I'll score more goals. The gaffer has told me to make sure I'm in and around the box and, the more we do that, the more things like that happen. We flooded the area, and we made things happen." Rory Fallon's ability to win possession in the air also contributed to the goal. Mackie added: "He's hard to pick up, and we need to utilise what we're good at. We need to get the ball in the area, and that's what we did." Asked if he felt that Argyle deserved the draw, Mackie replied: "I think so. We were looking for the win, because drawing home games is not really good enough, but we had to come from a goal behind. We'll have to go and get the win on Tuesday to make the two points we've got so far look half-decent." Argyle improved after the break on Saturday, after not causing much trouble for Rangers in the first-half. "That happens, because we're trying to change the way we play at home, and this was our first home game," Mackie said, "but we still had a couple of chances. We weren't panicking at half-time. The sort of team we are, we need to be really solid. It doesn't look like we're going to score three or four goals in a game, so we have to work really hard to cut out silly goals. If we can do that, I think we've got a good chance." Argyle have gained two points from their first two fixtures of the season. "We haven't lost yet in the League but, the sooner we can get a win on the board, the better we'll do," Mackie said. "Wins breed confidence." Mackie knows that he is under pressure for his place in the team, as are his fellow forwards, following some new arrivals. Speaking about Cillian Sheridan, he said: "We haven't seen a lot of him yet, but the gaffer has brought him in to do a job for us and hopefully get a few goals for us. It's competitive up front now and, as a striker, you thrive on that. You need competition, and you play better if you've got people breathing down your shirt."
Paul Sturrock thought Jim Paterson and Krisztian Timar both had good games against QPR. He said: "I thought Jim Paterson was very solid. The substitutions towards the end were in no way meant to be critical of the players' performances. If I was changing system, I wanted somebody different out there to do that. Kris has been much more like he was before then head injury. Last season, I think there was always a subconscious worry in his mind, which didn't benefit his performances. But he has come back very positively. He trained very hard in the pre-season. He's a very aggressive player and I think he's back to bringing that to the table. It was a very serious injury he had and it takes a long time to get over something like that. It definitely affected his performances, but I have seen a different player this season."
Paul Sturrock set a deadline for Alan Gow to agree to move to Argyle last week but insisted the delay was not because of the personal terms being offered to the striker. He said: "It was pretty evident on Wednesday – even Tuesday – that it was going to happen. There were still things he was haggling over with Rangers. It was nothing to do with the deal that was coming from us. It was a debate between Rangers and the individual player. It was a big decision for him to move to Plymouth. He's very close to his family so he wanted to tick all the boxes before he arrived. I gave him that opportunity, but it was getting to a stage where I had to force his hand. I'm delighted he then made the positive decision to come to Argyle."
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle got what they deserved out of the game with QPR yesterday. He said: "Over the piece, we were chasing the game and left ourselves a wee bit open, but I felt our efforts merited something out of the game - we kept going right up until the final whistle. We played a very good team with some very good players and a very strong bench. It was always going to be a difficult game. QPR are a quality team. They have spent a lot of money on their squad and are expected to be there or thereabouts. I wouldn't have said we were totally out of sorts with them. We had parts of the game as well. I think it will be a tonic for everybody involved with the football club that we've walked away with something out of the game. When you look at some of the half-chances we had in the second half and some of the ones they had, at the end of the day I'm going to toss my cap on the draw being a fair result." Sturrock changed things around at half-time, Cillian Sheridan replacing Steve MacLean, along with a switch to a 4-3-3 system. Sturrock added: "The system change definitely was a benefit. Sheridan came on and showed a willingness. He's big, he's got a good touch and wants to shoot at goal. He has all the ingredients that we need at this minute. I also thought Jim Paterson had a very solid performance today. The substitutions at the end were in no way critical of their performances. With Steve, I wanted something different. That was the be-all and end-all of that substitution. If I was changing the system, I needed someone different."
Argyle were notorious last year for falling behind and failing to recover but Paul Sturrock believes that mindset is in the past, and a new, determined attitude will prevail. He said: "To lose a goal like we did, two minutes before half-time, is a killer. Last season, it would have been the start of us losing the game, but the boys have shown a commitment, an attitude, and a will to win this season in the friendlies. We came back against the Romanians and the boys played right to the final whistle today. It's a start. Last year, we'd have lost that game 2-0."
Paul Sturrock is hopeful that Alan Gow will be available for Tuesday's game with Cardiff City. He said: "Gow's missed out with international clearance, but he had a bit of a knock anyway. I wouldn't have taken a chance on him today. He should be okay by Tuesday. We have to decide whether we go with him. There were a few tired looking boys out there at the end of the game, although I did feel we looked stronger as the game went on. I'm quite pleased that we kept going." Sturrock also hinted that he is not finished in the market-place, but there may be movements both in and out of the club. He added: "I'd like to send some players out on loan, I'd like to send some players to other football clubs and move them on. But, at the same time, there are two glaring holes in my squad I'd hope to bring players into."
Argyle drew 1-1 with QPR at Home Park, the goal coming from a Kaspars Gorkss own goal after 90 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Timar, Seip, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, MacLean, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs – Sheridan, Noone, Duguid (not used – Arnason, Summerfield, Johnson, Letheren). Attendance - 11,588
Alan Gow has joined Argyle with a simple plan - to play well for his new club. He said: "I just want to play as well as I can for Plymouth. I am delighted to be here and get it sorted, and I'm just looking forward to playing. The Championship is a good standard. Obviously, I've played most of my career up in Scotland but I was in the Championship last season. I prefer playing up front with another striker but I will play wherever I'm required." Gow added: "It never really went too well for me at Rangers. It was just one of those things but everybody knows how good a player I am in Scotland, and I went out on loan last season and proved it. I wanted to player for Rangers – that's why I went there, but it never worked out. I've got a wee knock, so I've not trained for the last few days. I'll be watching the game from the stands and hope to join training on Monday or Tuesday."
Jim Paterson is enjoying his return to favour at Argyle and is determined to stay in the side. "I wanted to stake a claim this season and get in the team, and I have done that," he said. "The manager has spoken to me and he's happy with me in the centre of midfield. But if we get injuries I will play left-back. It's not a problem. I don't mind playing anywhere for the team. If it's needs must, it's the team that comes first and foremost." Paterson thought Argyle missed the presence of Carl Fletcher and Krisztian Timar in the defeat at Gillingham, but it is hoped both will be available for the visit of QPR. Paterson said: "I did enjoy being in the centre of midfield last Saturday. It was good in there, playing with Fletch. He was a miss for us on Tuesday, and so was Krisztian. There were a lot of good performances last Saturday, but I thought Krisztian was our best player. He was solid and looked back to the way he was a couple of seasons ago before he had his horrific injury. Krisztian got a goal for us as well. The big man is always a danger at set pieces. If he and Fletch are fit for today's game, it will be a massive bonus for us." QPR thrashed Exeter City 5-0 in the Carling Cup, a result that impressed Paterson. He said: "We played Exeter in a bounce match and they are a decent side. But QPR went there and blew them away in the second half. They are a very good outfit. Every game in this division is a tough one, and QPR will be exactly the same. They are tipped to be up there, but we need to improve on our home form from last season. We will be going out there to get three points."
Romain Larrieu has spoken of his pride at playing for Argyle, and recently being made club captain. He said: "It's such an honour for me to be playing in that role for Argyle. Plymouth is a club that means so much to me." In 2006, Larrieu was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which he subsequently overcame, but his appearances were limited and he went on loan to Gillingham in 2007. The disease returned in January 2008 and, once again, he battled back to health. He added: "Moving to Gillingham in 2007 helped me a lot. It gave me a breath of fresh air because it wasn't the best time in my career with illness. It allowed me to get my head out of Plymouth and start to rebuild my career because that's how low I felt at the time." Larrieu stated that the support he has received from his employers during the past three years has been invaluable. "The club has always been there for me and I've always been there for the club as well but that's just part of the relationship," he said. "Eight-and-a-half years is such a long time in football today and you don't get many players who can say that. Coming from a foreign country, it's something I'm very proud of." Larrieu is as determined as ever to hold on to his place. He added: "Ever since I've been here I've been trying to work as hard as I can to get in the first team and it's worked pretty well. Plymouth is a good place to be with an ambitious board so I'm not ready to move now."
Argyle have today signed striker Alan Gow from Glasgow Rangers for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £200,000. Paul Sturrock said: "I am very pleased. He's the same type of player as Paul Gallagher is and I am sure he will be a quality player for us. He has tasted the Championship with Blackpool and Norwich last season and he did very well for them. Offensively, I am sure he will be an excellent addition to us." Gow has agreed a two-year deal and the move is subject to international clearance.
Argyle completed the signing of Cillian Sheridan on loan from Celtic yesterday and Paul Sturrock thinks he can make an immediate impact. He said: "He's here to score goals, he's here to head the ball and he's here to be a threat, which I'm sure he will be. Offensive players are very difficult to get your hands on. You have to pay top dollar for them. So when an exciting player like this comes out of the woodwork, for you to help with his development, this is the road for us to go down. He's rangy, big, quick and he's a lefty. He went out to Motherwell last season and did very well in several positions, and I did feel he would benefit the team. He can play as a big target man, off the front and wide left. He has got a few strings to his bow. He played quite a lot of games for Motherwell in a wide left position in a 4-3-3 so he's adaptable. He's here to play, if he comes up to the standards I think he can achieve." Sturrock has not ruled out the possibility of pairing Rory Fallon with Sheridan in attack for Argyle. He said: "I have heard he's one of the quickest players at Celtic over 10 yards, so we are just not getting a big target man. We are getting someone who can run beyond as well. There are all sorts of permutations for me. We are starting to put together a nice group of forward-type players." Sturrock has done his homework on Sheridan, and added: "I saw him play for Celtic reserves once, in person, and, other than that, I have also watched him in matches on the TV. My scout watched him twice last season and Sloop John Blackley saw him once in a game, when he was watching somebody else. We have talked to several managers about him and we got some good vibes back as far as that was concerned. I also talked to a couple of people who have played against him, and a couple of people at Celtic, so I have done my homework." The loan deal for Sheridan is initially until January, but Sturrock said: "I'm very hopeful he will be here the whole season."
Cillian Sheridan trained with his new team-mates for the first time yesterday. Sheridan had hoped to sign for the club before the season started last Saturday but had to bide his time until the technicalities of his loan deal were thoroughly checked out. He said: "I can't wait to get started. It's a shame it has been delayed for two weeks or so. It was a bit annoying, but it's good to finally get down here." Sheridan admitted he did not know too much about Argyle but added: "Since I first heard about the interest from Plymouth I have started to look up things. I'm getting to know more." Some SPL clubs were interested in taking Sheridan on loan, but he opted to make the move to England. He said: "I couldn't really turn down the chance to play in the Championship. Being a striker, the main aim is to score goals so, hopefully, I can bring that to the club." Sheridan has played alongside Alan Judge for the Republic of Ireland under-21s, and added: "I texted him about two weeks ago and asked him how he enjoyed it here. He had only good things to say."
Paul Sturrock wants Argyle to set the tone for their season by beating QPR in their first home game tomorrow. He said: "It's our first home game and it will set the tone for our season. It's important we get on the front foot as far as the game is concerned and come out of it with a good result. We had the worst home record in the league last season, and we don't want that to happen again because it would mean we would be fighting relegation. If we can have even a mediocre season at home it will take us several places up the table, and that's what you are looking for." QPR opened their season with a 1-1 draw at home to Blackpool and then won 5-0 at Exeter City in the Carling Cup. Sturrock said: "We have had them watched in both of those games, and we have got the Pro-Zone analysis on them as well. But they have played two different teams over those last two games. So it's pot luck what personnel is going to play, but they have got some quality players all over the football pitch." One of those players is Wayne Routledge, who Sturrock believe Argyle can contain, as they did in a goal-less draw last season. He said: "He was ordinary on that day because Gary Sawyer had a very good game against him and I'm expecting exactly the same again. But I would like to think that what we will be doing will be a negative for him. Hopefully, he will have to do a lot of running going back up the park, rather than the other way." Argyle had to be content with a 1-1 home draw against QPR last season, after a late equaliser from Steve MacLean. Sturrock added: "I think we gave QPR as good as we got in both games last season, and I don't envisage it being any different this year."
Yannick Bolasie hopes to use his current six-month loan spell at Barnet to move into first-team contention at Home Park. He said: "Everyone expects to get a chance after impressing while out on loan at a different club, especially considering how well I did at Barnet last season. However, Paul Sturrock told me that he would like me to gain some more experience this season and I have got no problem with returning to Barnet and helping them out again. The aim for me is to do well while I'm here on loan and continue to develop as a player, which will hopefully earn me a chance to impress Paul Sturrock in the first team at Plymouth. I would like to be given an opportunity to show what I can do there before my contract expires with them."
Paul Sturrock is currently involved in talks about deals for two players to leave Home Park. He said: "A couple of managers have asked me about certain players I have got. We are quickly going down the road of that because, as they come in, we have got to put them out."
The proposed deal to bring Rangers striker Alan Gow to Home Park is hours away from being resolved one way or another. Paul Sturrock has stated that the deal will be off if an agreement is not reached by the end of today. He said: "He has not crossed Hadrian's Wall yet. There has been a time limit and, if this is to be resurrected, it would need to be today. I am frustrated in all sorts of ways with this deal. All the scenarios and people that have been involved with this have been told that Luggy's not happy."
Celtic striker Cillian Sheridan has arrived in the city for talks about a loan move to Argyle. Should agreement be reached, the 20-year-old Irishman could be part of the squad against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday. Sheridan has made 19 appearances for Celtic, including seven starts, and scored four goals.
Keith Todd has described as 'surreal' his new position as a director of Plymouth Argyle. The lifelong Pilgrims' supporter and leading figure in the communications industry is getting a big kick out of his new role at Home Park. He said: "The word that gets used most often when I'm talking about being a director of this football club is surreal. It's like being transported into an environment that you have always looked at from the outside, and now you are in the middle of it. We have got some great staff here on the off-field team and their reaction has been absolutely excellent." The new Argyle regime are determined to increase revenue streams for the club, and Todd has one particular idea he believes will make money. He will be pushing the football authorities for live internet streaming of matches to overseas supporters. He said: "We are pushing some boundaries. We didn't advertise this but we got the approval from the Football League to do a very limited trial on streaming the Hearts match to about a dozen people. They were people in Tokyo, California, Scotland and London. It just proved what I already knew, that it was a good quality picture and there were only a couple of minor interruptions on the internet delivery. I'm intending to press hard on the Football League to get agreement to be able to offer the international fanbase the ability to watch Argyle home games. It's good for fans internationally and, not surprisingly, it's good for the income flows for the club." Todd is based in London but plans to spend around two days a week at Home Park. He said: "I was asked by the board to act as the operational link so that the executive team has some clear line of direction in terms of getting decisions taken. I'm here a couple of days a week, but I'm always available. We are going to be implementing some desktop video conferencing, which I use in other companies I run. It will make communication easier, not just between the executive teams but also with the board." Todd and his boardroom colleagues have been running the club for the past six weeks and it has been a learning process for them. He said: "We keep picking up odd things we have done wrong – an inappropriate response to a particular situation, for example. But that will improve over time. At the end of the day, this club is very much for the fans. It's a club that wants to get closer to the community, and we have started increasing our involvement right across the board, whether it's with schools or the chamber of commerce."
Paul Sturrock has been given the green light to make further additions to his squad, but director Keith Todd admitted there would also have to be several departures as well to balance the club's books. Todd said: "We are working very closely with Luggy. It's all being done with agreement, but timing isn't totally in our control on all fronts. We want to get the team that we think can be competitive in the Championship on the pitch as early as possible in the season. The other side of the coin is that one or two players, for the sake of their own careers, need to move to other clubs. The squad is too big and it makes life very difficult for the team dynamics, apart from the money side." But Todd also added: "Yes, we want to reduce the size of the squad, but, no, we are not going to give players away. If other clubs think we are desperate for financial reasons then inappropriate proposals will be made. But we are clear that for the team dynamics, and ultimately the overall health of the club, that players will need to move out." Asked whether there had been any 'inappropriate proposals' from other clubs, Todd replied: "I think in life you always get inappropriate proposals."
Keith Todd has sent out a clarion call for Plymouth Argyle fans to turn out in force for the Championship clash against Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, the first competitive match at Home Park since the boardroom shake-up over the summer. Todd hopes there will be strong support for Argyle throughout the 2009/10 Championship campaign. He said: "The biggest challenge for me so far is understanding whether we have done all we could, off the pitch, to get people into the ground. "I'm talking about actually making matchday appealing to the fans. Clearly, performances on the pitch are a major factor. I don't deny that. That is always going to be there. But it's also about encouraging people who come regularly to bring a friend. It's a very genuine request for people from Plymouth, Devon and Cornwall to reach out to the club. If you are 50-50, come along on Saturday. Give us the benefit of the doubt. Come and enjoy the atmosphere. QPR is always a great fixture, so it couldn't be any better from that sense. Then we have got Cardiff City here three days later. They should be a couple of good games." Todd is encouraging supporters to buy their tickets for the QPR match in advance, and not leave it until the day. He said: "The fans can buy online, or at the box office at Home Park. It will save queuing up on the day and it will improve the matchday experience." Todd believes vocal support will be key to improving the home results. He said: "I say this as a fan myself, I think we sometimes underestimate the impact we have on the team. Last season, I probably watched most of my Argyle matches away from home. The away fans are very tight-knit and very vocal and, as a result of that, it creates a great atmosphere to which the players respond to. I'm not suggesting this was the only reason for the away results being better last season, but I think there really was a relationship between those away fans who turned up and the players. The players felt really encouraged that people had put themselves out to travel so far." Todd added: "I'm hoping the fans will get behind the team on Saturday and give them every chance to succeed."
Argyle season-ticket holders can bring up to two friends to Tuesday's visit of Cardiff City for £10 each. Argyle chief operating officer Tony Campbell said: "We realise that, in the current economic climate, it is not easy for people to find the cash to go to two matches in such a short space of time. We are considering a range of measures aimed at easing the financial burden on our supporters, of which this is the first."
The Club will make an announcement on the timescale for the building of a new main stand at Home Park by Christmas. The transfer of power at Home Park over the summer has seen fresh impetus added to the planned redevelopment. Keith Todd is evaluating the current situation and he will be making recommendations to his boardroom colleagues within the next couple of months. He said: "I have been having reviews with all the professional teams who have participated in the planning to date, to really understand where we are now and why we have got to the position we are in at the moment. I'm expecting to give some recommendations for the way forward to the board within the next eight weeks – four if it can be achieved. In terms of the big announcement about the stand and the timeframe, it will be part of the five-year plan. But, in order to get it into the five-year plan, we need to take some preliminary decisions with regard to what it looks like." He added: "The action we have taken on the business lounge should not be confused with any indication that we are going to keep this stand longer. I put out a challenge about what ideas we had got to make people feel we had done something better and new. So we fully recognise that may well only be around for a year, or it could be two years, depending on what the conclusion is on the planning side. There are a whole series of things that have to be addressed, along with Plymouth City Council. The club has historically had a good dialogue with the council, and it will continue to have one. We will be expressing our views very shortly on what we think should happen to this whole area. Plymouth is a city with a great park. Central Park is fantastic, and it needs to have developments on it which are very in keeping with what I think many people – and I feel – it represents." Argyle's five-year plan will plot the path to their eventual aim of Premier League football by 2014. Todd said: "We are going to look at all aspects of what needs to happen on the pitch. Then there is the youth programme, the stadium, the capital finance structure and the off-pitch team. Those are the five parts of the plan, and embryonic work has started on it. But the priority we set ourselves before the first home game was getting ready for the start of the season. From there, we will start to focus on lifting our heads about what are the stepping stones to the future, beyond what we have immediately put in place."
Paul Sturrock has was not pleased with his sides defending as they crashed out of the Carling Cup last night. He said: "The first goal came from a throw-in which we should have defended against, but we didn't. People were slow getting into their positions and somebody didn't match their runner. That meant there was a two-against-one situation, which sucked the centre-back to the ball. You have got to give credit to Gillingham because it was a well-worked move. But it disappointed me because we pride ourselves on defending solidly. And the second goal was just embarrassing. Somebody has basically not defended properly. They decided the ball was going out, rather than making sure of it going out. That's zany defending. I don't know what word I can actually use for it. I have never seen it as bad as that. The boy has put his hand up for it, I will give him credit for that. But there are too many of my defenders thinking they are being footballers. I want my back four to be competent as far as passing the ball is concerned, but know their job first and foremost is giving no goals away." Argyle went into the first round tie without Krisztian Timar, ruled out with an ankle injury, and captain Carl Fletcher because of a dead leg. Sturrock said: "I maybe had the opportunity to play Arnason at centre-back, but I felt that would have been inappropriate, although he has played there. I thought Gary Sawyer had played it enough times to be competent in there, and Jim Paterson has played left-back before, so I didn't think there would be too much change. But there were one or two of my players who didn't defend properly tonight." Sturrock added: "It's not appropriate of me to name people, but there were some glaring errors when we attempted to clear the ball. That's where we are having problems at this minute in time. We are not clearing the ball cleanly, which means it's sticking around our box all the time, and popping down to people. Also, we are not matching runners from midfield, which has been a trait of ours. In the end, I do feel it's because we have concentrated so much on the offensive side. For the last two games, we have been much more of a passing team than we have probably ever been. I want my team to pass the ball more than they were last season, but there is a happy medium to this and I think we have gone too far the other way. Yes, we are getting better at creating chances; we have created several chances over the last two games. But, at the same time, we are not as solid as we were and we have got to add that to our game." Luggy added: "Fletcher is a key player for us and it shows when he isn't pulling the strings."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Gillingham in the first round of the Carling Cup. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Seip, Sawyer, Paterson, Judge (Clark), Duguid, Summerfield (Barnes), Mackie, MacLean (Noone), Fallon. Subs not used - Arnason, Letheren, McCrory, Mason. Attendance - 3,306
Paul Sturrock will resist the temptation to inflict drastic surgery upon his side when he takes the Pilgrims to Kent tonight for a first-round Carling Cup tie against Gillingham. If Sturrock had been tempted to tinker with his team tonight, last weekend's events in Kent would surely have dissuaded him. The Gills opened their League One challenge with a 5-0 thrashing of Swindon Town, and Luggy is not anticipating a comfortable evening's work for his players. "We have a difficult game, because Gillingham won 5-0 on Saturday and are on a superb high," Sturrock declared. "There will be a couple of changes, just to give us some fresh legs. I want to see a couple of people in action, but nothing outrageous will be done. I made six or seven changes at this time last season, and it won't be anything like that." Team captain Carl Fletcher will miss the trip to Kent, having suffered a dead leg at Selhurst Park last Saturday. He is likely to be replaced by Karl Duguid or Kari Arnason. The Icelandic international has recovered from the groin strain that made him unavailable on Saturday, and he could make his competitive debut this evening. "He has deemed himself fit," Sturrock said of the midfielder. "I don't know if he'll start the game, we'll just have to wait and see." On-loan Blackburn Rovers midfielder Alan Judge, who was deployed as a substitute at the weekend, has a chance of earning a place in Sturrock's starting XI this evening. "He could be used from the start," the Argyle boss added. Sturrock has added Arnason and first-year professional Joe Mason to the squad picked for the Palace trip. The Pilgrims flew to London yesterday and made the rest of the journey by road. They will return tomorrow. "The boy Mason and Arnason have been added to the squad," the Argyle manager confirmed. "Eighteen players are travelling. We know Gillingham are fired up, they have a lot of pace up front, and they are very good at home. No matter what league you're in, winning 5-0 is a very convincing performance, and it will be very difficult for us if we're not at the top of our game."
The manager is aware that progress in the Carling Cup would be of financial benefit to Argyle. "There's money to be made," the Scotsman added. "Most of the Premier League teams come into it in the next round, and we could be drawn against one of them." The Pilgrims' boss also knows, however, that winning at Gillingham – and beating anybody in the Football League Cup – is something the Home Park team are not very good at. Argyle last earned an away win against the Gills in any competition way back in February 1981. This is the 50th season of the League Cup, and Argyle have reached the last four of the tournament on two occasions, but their recent record is awful, having cleared the first hurdle only twice in the last 15 years.
Glasgow Rangers striker Alan Gow is still weighing up an offer from Argyle. The Pilgrims have agreed a £200,000 transfer fee for Gow and the 26-year-old has passed a medical, but his wage demands are proving to be a stumbling block. Sturrock is not prepared to budge from what has been offered to Gow, and is unsure whether the deal will be completed. Sturrock said: "It seems to resurrect and die, and resurrect and die. I'm concentrating more on tonight's game than on that." The manager believes that Gow, who can play as an out-and-out striker or in a wide position, would be an excellent addition to the playing staff at Home Park. Sturrock said: "I can assure the fans there have been a lot of negotiations going on with this one." Meanwhile, Sturrock is continuing to pursue his interest in Celtic's 20-year-old striker Cillian Sheridan. The Pilgrims' boss wants to take Sheridan on loan until the end of December.
Having listened to concerns about possible charges for parking in the Outland Road car-park, Plymouth Argyle has confirmed that this will not be the case and the public car-park will continue to be free to supporters on a match-day.
Five weeks after the boardroom reshuffle, Paul Sturrock has spoken positively about the 'New World' at Home Park. "I have been very pleased with the backing I have received from the new board," he said. "They haven't turned down anything I have asked of them so far. They have a direction they want to take this football club in, which I'm excited about. It's going to take a lot of work to get into the position where they want this team to be. But they are appreciative we have to walk first before we can jog and then run. That's the really pleasing thing to me. They understand this is a long-term job, not a short-term job."
Carl Fletcher has retired from international football despite being named in the Wales squad for Wednesday’s friendly against Montenegro. He announced his surprise decision, which includes withdrawal from the current squad, after contacting Welsh officials yesterday. "I felt the time was right. I am not getting any younger and Wales have got so many good players coming through now," Fletcher said. "It's harder for me to keep up with them. There is going to be a fantastic future for Welsh football with the quality and the attitude of all the young players." Fletch made his debut in a 4-0 friendly win over Scotland in Cardiff in February 2004, going on to earn 36 caps and scored one for his country, and even captained the side on one occasion. "I take some great memories away and things to tell my kids and grandkids," he said. "I really want to do well for Plymouth Argyle now. I've come here this season and I've really started to enjoy my football again."
Argyle's new Icelandic midfielder Kari Arnason has set himself two goals for the forthcoming Championship campaign. One is to settle into his new life in England and the other is to become a first team regular for the Pilgrims. Arnason signed a one-year contract with Argyle last month, fulfilling a lifelong ambition for the 26-year-old, who has always wanted to play in England. "It's so far so good," he said. "I have definitely made the right choice to come to Plymouth. I'm just trying to settle into my new life and, of course, it takes time. Hopefully, it will only be a couple more weeks." Arnason, who has previously played top flight football in Sweden and Denmark, has admitted he has been surprised by the technical ability of his new team-mates at Home Park. "I knew the tempo of the game was much higher in England but, individually, all of the players are very good," he said. "They have a good first touch, and that's what makes a good player." The 6ft 3in midfielder was low on fitness levels when he first signed for Argyle, having been without a club since being released by Danish Superliga side Aarhus at the end of last term. He said: "I'm getting there. I haven't had a full pre-season but as we go along I think it's going to come, no problem." Arnason is excited about his new adventure in England, and while he knows the Championship is highly competitive he is not sure what to expect. He said: "Reading have some Icelandic players and I have been watching them for a few years now. I don't know too much about the other teams in the Championship, but often that is good because you just go and play your own game. As long as the gaffer asks me to play in the starting eleven, I will be a happy camper."
Paul Sturrock was disappointed his side had not built on Krisztian Timar’s fifth-minute goal at Selhurst Park yesterday. “I don’t think we deserved to win the game, to be fair," he said. “We ended up defending too deep and paid the price for it. But it’s still early in the season and I am pleased with the attitude and the team spirit we have shown. That augurs well for the rest of the season.” Luggy added: "We’re not the finished article and there are two or three more to bring in and benefit the squad.”
Carl Fletcher was given the captain's armband yesterday, with last season's regular skipper Karl Duguid starting the game on the bench. "It's nice that the manager thinks I can do a job," said Fletcher, "but, if you are going to achieve anything, you need more than 11 captains - you now have a whole squad. If myself or anyone else in the team can help others with experience and things like that, then that's great but today was a fantastic team effort and everyone can be proud of their efforts, and their work-rate, and their attitude." But Fletcher was not completely happy with the opening-day result. "I think, with the chances we had, it's disappointing to come away with just a point," he said. "That shows how far we have come - that we have got a point away from home and are disappointed. We seemed to create quite a bit and could have killed the game off in the first half. It wasn't to be, but we've got to learn from it and take it on. At the end of the day, a point away from home on the first day of the season is not the worst result in the world."
Krisztian Timar has not made the final selection for his national squad, and so will be available for Tuesday's Carling Cup game at Gillingham.
Argyle drew the opening game of the season 1-1 at Crystal Palace. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Timar, Seip, Sawyer, Fletcher, Summerfield (Judge), Paterson, MacLean (Duguid), Mackie, Fallon. Subs not used - Clark, Noone, Johnson, Latheren, Barnes. Attendance - 14,358
Argyle have been preparing for more than five weeks for the start of the Championship campaign, and the day has finally arrived. Paul Sturrock has used the pre-season friendlies to try out new styles of play – and to assess his squad with a view to picking an in-form first XI today. "I promised every player that performances in the friendlies – taking away the first two friendlies, which were breaking-in games – would determine selection," Luggy said. "People will be picked in the first game because of their standards in pre-season. Some players have come in and have done very, very well, and have forced their way into the team."
Club captain Romain Larrieu will not wear the skipper's armband on the pitch. That is likely to be handed to Carl Fletcher for this afternoon's assignment against his previous employers – but Argyle manager Paul Sturrock does not want the Wales international to bear the burden of leadership all by himself. The Pilgrims' boss wants a side full of skippers. Sturrock has decided who will be given the role of team captain, but until he tells his players he will not publicise his decision. "There's a discussion to be had with several players but, as I've said in the past, I'm not a great believer in captains," Sturrock said before his squad set off for south London. "I believe the experienced players should lead the team on the pitch, and I put Fletcher, Duguid and Romain in that category, but, yes, somebody will toss the coin. I've made up my mind who that will be, but I haven't told the players yet. It would remiss of me to say anything untoward before I've said anything to the players. Luggy added: "I want leaders on the football pitch, and I don't want one leader. I think Marcel Seip can lead, I think Steve MacLean can lead. I think Chris Barker can lead. I want to hear the whole team talking. That was a key problem for us last year. We didn't have that kind of banter amongst the team, that sort of team spirit which I've associated with a lot of my teams. I've heard it a lot more this season. There's a lot more talking going on, and I've been buoyed by that."
Carl Fletcher insists he does not have a point to prove when returns to Crystal Palace today. Fletcher said: "Pre-season is good for about two days and then you want the season to get going. It's more important for us to get off to a good start than it is for me to go back to Palace and try to prove a point, or anything like that. At the end of the day, my concerns now are with Plymouth Argyle and how we perform on a Saturday and a Tuesday. I spent three years there, so it's a fair portion of time in your life, and it will be nice to go back and see a few familiar faces."
Jason Puncheon has finalised his season-long loan move to Milton Keynes Dons. The Dons also signed former defender Mathias Doumbe on a two-year contract yesterday. Both he and Puncheon are set to feature for the Buckinghamshire club's first game of the season today. Meanwhile, released 'keeper Graham Stack has completed his move to Scottish Premier League club Hibernian on a two-year contract.
Reda Johnson has been selected in an 18-strong squad by Benin for their international friendly against Gabon in Dieppe, France, next Tuesday. The match falls on the same night as Argyle play Gillingham in the Carling Cup first round. Paul Sturrock is already short on defensive options following the calf injury to Chris Barker, so he won't want to be without 21-year-old Johnson for the trip to Kent, but Benin's friendly against Gabon falls on a FIFA international date so Argyle are powerless to stop Johnson from playing for Benin. Carl Fletcher has been named in the Wales squad for their friendly away to Montenegro in Podgorica next Wednesday, and will also be unavailable for the Carling Cup tie. Krisztian Timar will also be unavailable if he remains in Hungary's squad. Timar has been named in an initial selection for a friendly against Romania in Budapest on Wednesday, but that squad will be trimmed in the next couple of days, and centre-back may not be required.
Argyle have signed 21-year-old goalkeeper Kyle Letheren on a short-term deal, covering for Lloyd Saxton who has a wrist problem that requires an operation. Letheren began his career as a youngster with Swansea City before moving on to Barnsley, via a loan spell at Newport County. He spent time on loan at Doncaster last season, without making an appearance, and has been a free agent since he was released by Barnsley at the end of the last campaign.
It was announced last night that Mathias Kouo-Doumbe's contract has been cancelled by mutual agreement. That allows him to leave Argyle without a transfer fee being payable, with MK Dons the favourites to secure his services. Doumbe held talks with MK Dons boss Paul Ince yesterday and is expected to put pen to paper today. Millwall had been hoping to sign the 29-year-old after he played on trial for them last Saturday but the two parties could not agree on a contract. Mat Doumbe was the Pilgrims' second longest-serving player, having made 142 appearances and scoring four goals since signing from Hibernian in June 2004. Paul Sturrock said: "I would like to thank Mat, personally, for the loyal service he has given to Argyle down the years. He has played his full part in the progress of the club in the last five years, and will be rightly remembered with affection by the fans for many years to come. I do feel, however, he is at the stage of his career where he deserves to be playing regularly in someone's first team. It will do him good to enjoy a fresh challenge."
MK Dons are also set to complete the season-long loan of Jason Puncheon, despite a late bid to scupper the deal from Charlton Athletic. Sturrock said: "Several clubs have talked to us about taking Jason Puncheon on loan. We have got to be very fair and allow all these clubs to talk to him, so he can decide what's the best loan deal for him."
Paul Sturrock hopes to send several of the young players in his squad out on loan. He believes midfielder Damien McCrory, defenders Ryan Brett and Ben Gerring, and strikers Liam Head and Joe Mason would all benefit from such deals. Luggy said: "They have got to start tasting that Saturday feeling, which they don't get when they are on the periphery of things here. I have targeted some of them for League One, some of them for League Two and some of them for the Conference," added Sturrock.
Out-of-favour French midfielder Yoann Folly remains at Home Park, but perhaps for not much longer. He suffered an injury early in pre-season, which has prevented him from playing on trial elsewhere, but is ready to start playing again. Sturrock said: "I think Yoann has made his mind up he's going back to France. It's just finding a club for him."
Despite two days of talks at Home Park this week, Alan Gow has still to agree personal terms with Argyle. Gow returned to Scotland yesterday to hold discussions with Rangers, where he has another year remaining on his contract. Paul Sturrock has made it clear that the club is not prepared to budge on the salary on offer to Gow. He said: "We discussed a lot of things on Wednesday and he has now gone back up to Scotland again to talk to Rangers. There are a lot of rumours about other football clubs being interested in him but he has been in negotiations with us. And yesterday morning he was in negotiations with Rangers. I'm just waiting to hear on word back." Sturrock continued: "At the end of the day, personal terms is what it's all about. But we have a budget and we are sticking to our figures. That was made plain, and also it's a big decision to come down here, so I can understand him taking a bit of time and thinking about it." Sturrock has no concerns about the 26-year-old's fitness. "He has had a medical and he's passed that," Sturrock said. "He had a recurring hamstring problem which two specialists have studied. They have given him exercises that he will probably have to do for the rest of his career, and that has made the injury clear up completely. It would flare up again if he didn't do these exercises on a regular occurrence. So I will give him a right slap if he comes here and forgets to do his exercises."
Argyle are close to completing the signing of goalkeeper Kyle Letheren on an initial one-month contract to act as cover for Romain Larrieu for the opening weeks of the new season. Sturrock has been seeking another 'keeper because Larrieu's 19-year-old understudy Lloyd Saxton needs a wrist operation and could be sidelined for at least three months. Letheren, 21, was released by Barnsley at the end of last season after spending three years at the south Yorkshire club. Sturrock said: "It will be a one-month contract if I can come to personal terms with him. It would cover us over a lot of the Saturday and Tuesday games at the start of the season, and it would give him an opportunity to impress us."
Alan Judge has revealed how he snubbed interest from other Championship clubs, as well as Scottish Premier League sides, to make a return to Argyle. Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce told Judge that he would get run-outs as a substitute in the Premier League this season, but the Republic of Ireland under-21 international enjoyed his taste of regular first-team football with the Pilgrims last term, and wants more of it. And he pushed for his return to Home Park to be finalised before the start of the new Championship season, rather than Blackburn's preference for the end of the month. Judge has stayed in touch with Paul Sturrock over the summer, and on Monday morning he was given the go-ahead by Allardyce to complete his return to the Pilgrims. Judge said: "There were one or two Championship clubs that came in for me, and some Scottish sides as well, but Paul Sturrock gave me my chance last season and I always told him I would repay him, which I have done. I'm very happy to be back, and it's like I have never left. There are just one or two players that have been brought in. The lads are looking very sharp and it's great to see." Judge added: "I'm still at Blackburn for another year after this season, so I will see how it goes here and then take it from there."
Argyle's New World will see the return on of an old favourite - the Argyle Football Special Services - to take supporters to and from Home Park on match days this season. The Pilgrims have teamed up with Plymouth Citybus to provide seven match-day buses from all parts of the city and beyond. There will also be a shuttle service making a continuous circuit from the city centre, via the railway station, to Home Park. All new services will be free on production of a match ticket. Chief operating officer Tony Campbell said: "We are delighted to be able offer our fans the opportunity to come to games in safety and comfort, without having to worry about where to park their car - all for free. The New World at Argyle is very much about improving the match-day experience of our supporters, and we feel this certainly delivers on that desire. We also feel that encouraging people to use this service is appropriate, given congestion in and around Home Park on match-days and general environmental concerns about car-use. The Greens have a responsibility to be as green as we can." Buses will depart from Wembury, Plympton, Glenholt, Tamerton Foliot, Whitleigh and Saltash, starting an hour and a half before matches, and will call at all recognised bus stops on each of the seven routes. Tony revealed that the buses could be just the first of a new wave of ideas designed to change Argyle supporters' match-day journeys. "This is one of a number of travel ideas we are looking at. We are in discussion with the City Council on a number of issues."
Argyle have confirmed that Bradley Wright-Phillips will be out of action for at least six weeks after suffering a knee injury during their 1-0 win against Exeter City in the behind-closed-doors match at St James' Park on Tuesday. Orthopaedic consultant Patrick Loxdale operated on Wright-Phillips last night to repair the damage and it will probably be mid-September before the striker can return to action. He is one of three Pilgrims who have been sidelined by injuries for the start of the new season. Defender Chris Barker could be ruled out for around two months because of a torn calf muscle and striker George Donnelly has been receiving treatment since early in pre-season for a torn hamstring.
As well as attempts to bring Glasgow Rangers striker Alan Gow to Home Park, it is thought that Argyle are in talks with Glasgow Celtic over a six-month loan deal for 20-year-old striker Cillian Sheridan. The Irish-born striker played Gaelic football before signing for Celtic in 2006.
Bradley Wright-Phillips could miss the first two months of the season after suffering a knee injury during the friendly with Exeter City on Tuesday. He suffered a lateral tear to the cartilage in his left knee and was scheduled to have an operation tonight. Paul Maxwell said: "Bradley has suffered a lateral tear of his meniscus. It should be around another six weeks before he is able to return to training."
Rory Fallon has insisted he will put club before country after his international call-up by New Zealand. He said: "I have been called into the squad which is a nice little blessing I have got. At one stage it was never going to happen, but with the rule change it has put me right back in there. It will be great for me to get international experience. The club comes first for me – but if there is an international break then I will definitely be up for it." New Zealand will play either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia in a playoff with the winners qualifying for the World Cup. Fallon said: "You just need a draw and a win and you are through to a World Cup, so you can't really complain about that. New Zealand always get in the Confederations' Cup so there are a lot of big things ahead and I'm looking forward to it. But, for me personally, it's all about my club. Doing well for Plymouth is my main concern." Paul Sturrock has some reservations about Fallon playing for New Zealand but has discussed the situation with him. Sturrock said: "Rory does appreciate that he doesn't want to be going away there and finishing up losing his place in the team here. The worrying aspect is the World Cup tie in New Zealand. We will just have to cross that bridge when it comes. I think Rory realises that he can't just travel 24 hours, and then back again, and be in the best of nick for a league game." Fallon is spending this week preparing for Saturday's game at Crystal Palace. "I'm just really looking forward to this first game," he said. "I know the boys are all really up for it, and we're training really well. Pre-season has been spot-on. We haven't done too much and we haven't done too little. It has been just right. I can feel it in the way I'm playing at the moment." Fallon scored five goals last season, but none after Boxing Day. "I blew up near the end," he said. "I think I was doing too much weights work in training, which wasn't what I needed. I felt a bit heavy and lethargic. I'm doing some different things now – sprinting and boxing – and I feel a lot sharper. Now it's all about consistency. I want to keep that consistency throughout the season. It's a long season. I didn't enjoy my football much last season, because I think I put too much pressure on myself. This season, I'm just going to go out there and enjoy myself and get stuck in."
Reda Johnson has been called up by Benin for a friendly against Gabon in Dieppe next Tuesday. Argyle have a Carling Cup first-round tie at Gillingham on that day and Paul Sturrock would like to be able to call upon Johnson. He said: "I'll have to clarify things, and make sure that Reda realises it's a difficult one for us."
Argyle have agreed a £200,000 transfer fee with Rangers for Alan Gow, who has travelled to Plymouth to discuss personal terms over the proposed move. Rangers manager Walter Smith said: "The fee has been agreed by the clubs and it's just up to the player to make his agreement with Plymouth so we await the result of that."
Gary Sawyer is hoping to be Argyle's secret weapon this season. Sawyer scored three times in the closing three months of last season and has added two more goals during the pre-season. He said: "It was nice to finish last season with a couple of goals and pre-season has gone even better. I have scored a couple of goals from outside the box and it would be nice to carry that on. I enjoy the diamond formation and getting further up the pitch. Full-backs have to go forward in the modern game. It is the way football is now." Sawyer has also paid tribute to the youth set-up at the club and said that the club's pros have always been keen to help out with the emerging players. He said: "The pros were really good when I was coming through the youth team which made it a lot easier and you become more confident. Now, I always look at how the youth team are getting on and when they come up to training I'll always go and try and help them." Gary’s younger brother Sam is currently part of the Argyle youth squad. He added: "I'll always be there to put my arm around Sam if he needs any help. Sam's really committed and he's like me in that sense because he's a good hard working lad with a good head on his shoulders and fingers crossed he'll do really well." Sawyer believes there is a good feeling in the Argyle dressing room this season. He said: "I think the lads are more together this year than they were last year. Everyone doesn't want what happened last year to happen this year so I think everyone is a lot better this year and a lot more committed on what we're going to do."
Alan Judge has re-joined Argyle on a season-long loan from Blackburn Rovers. Paul Sturrock said: "I am very pleased. Judgey showed a commitment to the football club last year - his zest and enthusiasm was a benefit to us and helped take us over the final hurdle. He scored a couple of goals for us as well and he had a quiet word at the end of last season to say he enjoyed it here. He felt his career was going in the right direction because he was getting games, so it was a no-brainer when they opened the opportunity up for him to come back. He has got to prove himself again. He has done a full pre-season at Blackburn and he brings vitality to our team, which rubs off on everybody else. It is a season-long loan with an option for both sides to reassess in January, but I am very hopeful that we won't have a problem with that."
Argyle won 1-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Exeter City at St James' Park this afternoon, the goal scored by Rory Fallon.
Jason Puncheon has returned to MK Dons on a season-long loan. Paul Sturrock said: "I have thought long and hard about Jason. He is a very talented player. The problem is that Jason has to be playing regular football to benefit himself and, in the end, to benefit us. I couldn't promise him a regular game with us and I also felt there would be times when we would play differently from the way Jason likes the game to be played. We had a conversation about it and I thought it was appropriate that he went out on loan. It made sense. They are nice people, they've looked after him and I am pleased he has got a home where he will get regular football."
Argyle won 1-0 at Tiverton Town last night, the goal scored by Liam Head. Yoann Folly and Simon Walton were the only senior professionals on duty with the rest of the squad set to be involved in a behind-closed-doors practice match today. Paul Sturrock said: "Yoann has missed a lot of training in pre-season and he needed the game. Damien McCrory hasn't had many games either. He started a bit sluggish but as the game wore on he got right into the groove. Obviously, Walts needs to keep up to speed and the wee kid on the left wing, Jake Baker, got better and better. This has always been a hard place to come, so for this team to get a result is very pleasing." Argyle: Chenoweth, Leonard, Gerring, Walton, Brett, Folly, McCrory, Rickard, Mason, Baker, Head, Mason. Subs – Young (not used - Sawyer, Nelson, Trott).
Mathias Doumbe could complete a move to Millwall within the next 48 hours. Paul Sturrock is reported to be ready to let Doumbe leave on a free transfer, and said: "The important thing for Mat, at his age, is to be playing in somebody's first team on a regular occurrence. Mat and I have had that discussion and I have told him he wouldn't be the main starter. So I think Mat is appreciative he has got to find somewhere where he can become a regular in their team."
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that Chris Barker will be out of action for some time. He said: "We are still to get the total rundown on it. One of the specialists is on holiday. We will clarify the whole situation later this week, but it's going to be long term. I don't think he's going to come bouncing back in a couple of weeks. I'm gutted for him because he had trained so hard. I thought he was very competent last season. He was one of our top performers. His consistency levels were excellent and you don't want to miss out on someone like that. Now it's going to be a case of catch-up for him, but he's a hard-working boy and I'm sure he will be back as quickly as possible."
Paul Sturrock hopes to add at least one player, possibly more, to his squad before Saturday’s season opener. He said: "I'm ruling nothing out at this minute. I have still got a lot of irons in the fire. There are a couple of areas where I would like to add to the competition for places." Goalkeeper is one position that Sturrock will have to strengthen due to Lloyd Saxton’s wrist injury. Sturrock said: "I'm going to have to clarify and sort out the goalkeeper situation. I haven't even started on that yet. I have got to wait on the thoughts of the specialist, who will see Saxo today, before I make a decision on what I'm going to do." Argyle are reported to be trying to bring Alan Judge back to Home Park, again on loan from Blackburn Rovers and have also been linked with Glasgow Rangers striker Alan Gow, for whom they are reported to have agreed a fee of about £200,000.
Reda Johnson made a dash from Gatwick Airport to play at Swindon Town on Saturday. Johnson only arrived at Gatwick at 11 o'clock on Saturday morning and arrived at The County Ground shortly before 2pm, and did not even have the chance to have a proper pre-match meal. Paul Sturrock said: "Reda came off a flight at 11 o'clock and didn't get anything to eat before the game. But I think everybody could see the potential in him in his performance today. He was picked up at Gatwick and was here for ten-to-two. I was a wee bit worried he might get an injury, but I wanted to see him play so I could paint a picture in my own mind. He won all his headers, he's quick in one-on-ones and he passes the ball really well. His positional sense needs to be worked on, but if that's the only problem we have got I think we might have a player on our hands."
Mathias Doumbe played as a trialist for Millwall in their draw with Middlesbrough on Saturday and their manager Kenny Jackett was impressed and plans further talks. Jackett said: "I thought he did well. He hasn't had many games in pre-season. In terms of the pecking order at Argyle, he says he has been sub and thinks he has been on the fringe. His timing got better as the game went on anyway, which is a good thing. I have seen quite a lot of him, so I just wanted to see how he was going to fit in. He's an out-and-out defender and I think he's pretty solid and reliable. His timing and defensive cover are probably his strengths. I will have to speak to him and his agent. He has got a year left at Plymouth but is available. That's the situation. I really need to discuss it with him to see what he's looking for, but he didn't do himself any harm at all on Saturday." Simon Walton also trained with Millwall last week but Jackett does not seem set to pursue any interest in him. Asked if Millwall were going to extend their interest, Paul Sturrock replied: "No, they could not get a game arranged, and it was difficult to make an assessment in training. They've got two injured centre- backs, and they wanted a solid centre-back. The boy Walton probably has too many strings to his bow, whereas the boy Doumbe has a hundred-plus Championship games over the years. In the end, it was a no-brainer. Walton is back again and starts training with us on Monday." Asked if Doumbe was likely to leave Plymouth on loan or a full transfer, Sturrock added: "We haven't got that far yet. We've discussed nothing about it, we've just allowed him to go and play in one game."
Paul Sturrock has insisted no decision has been taken on who will be Argyle's captain this season. Carl Fletcher led the team out at Swindon Town but Karl Duguid was listed on the team sheet as Argyle's skipper. Sturrock said: "Whether they have had a chat or not, I don't know. It's nothing we have brought forward. As you know, I believe captains toss the coin and, hopefully, win the toss. The rest of the time, I would like all the experienced players to be talking, not just one." Sturrock was asked who would be Argyle's captain at Crystal Palace this Saturday. He replied: "I have got a discussion to have with my coaching staff, and a discussion to have with certain people."
Rory Fallon has been selected in the New Zealand squad for their World Cup play-off matches in the autumn. New Zealand are scheduled to face either Bahrain or Saudi Arabia in a two-legged decider for a place in the 2010 World Cup Finals.
Paul Sturrock cannot wait for the new season to start. Despite the victory over Swindon Town yesterday, Sturrock was not totally satisfied with his side's display. He said: "I think we have played too many pre-season friendlies. The tempo of the game was poor to start with. It was very nicey-nicey football. We had a word at half-time and the players raised the tempo after that." With the start of the new season so close players would have been anxious to avoid injury but there were still some strong challenges, especially from Argyle. Reda Johnson crashed into Swindon striker Billy Paynter twice and Ashley Barnes was substituted in the 52nd minute after being booked moments earlier for a late tackle. Sturrock said: "Reda headed the back of Billy Paynter's head twice. It was just a lack of timing. There was no malice in it. Yes, there were a couple of meaty tackles. That always seems to happen when the ball is skidding on a wet top. It was probably down to us winding up our players a wee bit at half-time, that they had to get the tempo up. We had decided one of the strikers would come off for Rory, anyway. In the end, Ashley made my mind up for me. It's frustrating for Ashley because he has had some competent performances but no goals. He has missed several chances, and I think he is a typical striker who needs that confidence through scoring goals. He becomes a much better player. I think me and him have got to have a wee chat about things. It came quite easy to him at the end of last season and his confidence grew. I think he has come back this year and expected things to just maybe happen. He has got to get on that training ground and keep working and working." Sturrock took another look at Argyle playing a midfield diamond formation for the first hour against Swindon. He said: "We have kept persevering with the diamond and the players are getting to know the whole scenario. But we played against a different system today – they had three at the back – which made it very difficult for us to pass the ball. We kicked long all the time. The other system we used gives us a bit more scope. It simplifies things for people and gives us more width, so there is a benefit to both." Karl Duguid was a surprise choice by Sturrock to play at the top of the midfield diamond. Sturrock said: "Karl is one of the top finishers we have got at the football club. He's a great striker of the ball and he knows how to time runs. His running capacity is so good that I did feel he would maybe run beyond the strikers, but the position looked strange to him. He's more content coming onto the ball, and he finished up ahead of the ball a lot of the time. That would come with a bit of work, but he definitely has got the attributes to play there." Jason Puncheon travelled to Swindon but was not included in the starting line-up or among the substitutes. Sturrock added: "Jason is a very talented player, but I can only strip a certain amount of players. He has played a lot of games in the friendlies, and I just felt the boy Mason had merited being sat on the bench."
Argyle won 2-0 at Swindon Town in this afternoons friendly, the goals coming from Marcel Seip and an own goal. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, Seip, Johnson, Sawyer, Summerfield, Fletcher, Duguid, Clark, Mackie, Barnes. Subs - MacLean, Noone, Fallon (not used - Paterson, Timar, Wright-Phillips, Saxton, Mason).
Reda Johnson could feature when Argyle play Swindon Town today. Johnson returned to France for a couple of days but should be back in the country in time but Paul Sturrock is not sure whether to play him in the match. He said: "I have got to deliberate whether sitting on a plane for X amount of hours is conducive to him running out at Swindon." Kari Arnason will not play against Swindon because he has also returned home to get ready for his move.
Paul Sturrock has arranged a behind-closed-doors game away to un-named opposition for Tuesday. He said: "I'm going to keep that one to myself at the minute. The other club don't want to be named." Sturrock will play a very strong side, at least for the first 45 minutes in that match, as he prepares for the season-opener at Crystal Palace. He believes that will be better preparation than a training session. He added: "I can put all my thoughts on style of play, set pieces and things like that for the Crystal Palace game into that match. I can also put out a team that might be near enough the starting line-up next Saturday."
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