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Argyle won 1-0 at Middlesbrough, the goal scored by Jamie Mackie after 64 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Arnason, Lowry, Sawyer, Duguid, Fletcher, Folly, Judge, Mackie, Gow. Subs - Clark, Barnes (not used – Letheren, Sheridan, Paterson, Timar, Mason). Attendance - 21,141
Romain Larrieu wants to finish on a winning Argyle side at Middlesbrough this afternoon but, first and foremost, he wants to keep a clean-sheet. He said: "A clean-sheet hasn't happened this season yet, but we have defended well in the last three games. People will look at Bristol City, and say we still lost three goals, but for the majority of the game we defended well. We looked very sound, and we need to take pride in that. We looked sound as well last Saturday, and even the opposition manager noticed it. We just need to keep going, and cut out the mistakes." Defensive errors have contributed in a big way to the current position of 23rd place in the table. Larrieu said: "We've been in this position before, in the wrong area of the league, and people start to make mistakes. We've all made one this season. I don't know if it's down to nerves but, when you are down there, these things happen. The quicker we can cut them out, the quicker we can climb up the league. We've shown good heart and good spirit, so I'm not worried. I know it's going to come." Larrieu has not been helped by frequent personnel changes in the back four. Argyle have used six different centre-backs this season. "Football is about balance, and it's difficult if you don't have balance," he added. "It is a lot easier when the team is settled, and all the changes have been very frustrating, but that's football. You need to get on with it. We have decent players who can come in and do a job. We need to pull together as a squad, not just as a team. Everybody will have a big part to play between now and the end of the season, because of the position we are in. Nobody's place is safe." Middlesbrough should provide formidable opposition today but Larrieu feels they can take encouragement from the way they played at Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion last month. "We were in the game with ten minutes to go at both places," he said. "We're looking forward to Saturday. Boro have not had the best home record. If we can keep the solidity that we feel in ourselves and keep our shape, I think we can be a handful for them. We need three points, and we want to get our hands on them. We should not be scared of any team in this league."
Chris Barker has targeted a return to training in two weeks' time, having missed the first three months of the season due to a torn calf muscle. He said: "It has been going fine for the last two weeks. But before that I had to have a month of total rest because the muscle was torn again. Then, since last Monday, I have just been building up every day. Hopefully, if everything goes to plan, I will be training in two weeks' time." Barker tore the calf muscle in the warm-up before the pre-season game against Hearts. "I can remember it very clearly," he said. "It was annoying because it wasn't caused by a tackle in a game. I was just doing my normal routine in a warm-up. I was doing my six headers and, as I have landed after my sixth header, it felt like a ball had smashed against my calf. I was warming up with David McNamee at the time and he has had calf problems. He knew straight away it had torn. Sometimes, you can carry on for two or three minutes, but I couldn't move. And three months later, it's still going along. It was very disappointing but I just had to get on with it. I'm not used to this. This is the longest I have been out injured in my 11 years as a professional footballer. I have never had anything like this before in my life, and we don't know why it happened. It's just one of those situations. It's not very nice to watch the team losing and, hopefully, I can help them when I get back." Barker has been one of several defenders who have been hit by injuries this season and he added: "The back four keeps changing all the time and it's not helping the team. But that's what you have to get on with and it's part of the game. Hopefully, I will be back playing in three weeks' time and Reda is getting close to returning as well." After the trip Middlesbrough, Argyle are at home to Doncaster Rovers next Saturday and then have another two-week international break. Barker said: "The international breaks keep helping me. We are on 14 games and we have only got another couple more before the next break. I could miss four months of the season and only miss 17 games. At another time, you could be playing Saturday-Tuesday, Saturday-Tuesday and you would miss a lot more. I have got to take every day as it comes along and see where it takes me." Barker will be glad to see the back of 2009. His mother, Pauline, passed away in March after a fight against cancer, and he has also had to cope with his injury. He said: "It has been the worst year of my life. I want to get rid of 2009 as quickly as possible. With what happened in March, and then being out injured for at least three months, it has been terrible." One plus point for Argyle this season has been the performances of Shane Lowry and Barker admitted he had been impressed by him. He said: "I have seen the home games and Shane is an old-fashioned centre-half. He's big and strong, but he's still learning the game."
Rory Fallon has been included in New Zealand's squad for the World Cup play-off second leg against Bahrain on November 14th.
Paul Mariner has been making his influence felt on the training ground. Paul Sturrock said: "Paul has come in and he's a fresh face and a fresh voice. He's very up-and-at-them and has got a zest for life. He has brought a lot of routines into the training which the boys have enjoyed. Him and I have worked hand-in-hand as far as the training is concerned and I have enjoyed myself as well. I wouldn't say I have been ring rusty, but it has been a while since I have really got my teeth into things like we have in the last 10 days." Argyle started this week with a double training session on Monday. Sturrock said: "I wanted to find out what the story was about the players' general fitness. We have had a wee look at that and they passed that with flying colours. We have worked very hard at when the other team has the ball and we worked very hard yesterday on what we are going to do when we have the ball. There has been a general build-up through the week and now we have got to put the icing on the cake today with some set pieces, a bit of shapework and some finishing." The squad will be flying up to the North East this morning and Sturrock added: "We are going to have a training session up there and then we are going to settle ourselves down because it's going to be a big challenge for us tomorrow." There have been calls from supporters for Sturrock to be replaced as manager but he insisted that was not a distraction for him. He said: "There is always pressure on a football manager. Results are the key to it all. At the end of the day, we have got to start pegging back some of the teams above us. We don't want any big gaps to develop." After tomorrow Argyle have a home game against Doncaster Rovers before another two-week international break. "We will be into a month where there is only three games – and they are all on Saturdays, which is a delight to me," said Sturrock. "It gives us a real time to get the squad healthy. I think by the end of the month we should have everybody available again."
Argyle will try to spoil the party when they play Middlesbrough tomorrow. It will be Boro's first match since the appointment of Gordon Strachan as their new manager and Paul Sturrock said: "There is a new manager, all the players will be hoping to impress and a big crowd will turn up. Let's hope we can spoil the party. I don't think you will find that Gordon will put much influence into his team after only four or five days of work. I think he will be very much taking a backseat, looking from afar. He will probably mark their cards that people are playing for their positions, so they are going to have an eager bunch of players. We are going to have to match that for the first 10 minutes, but we have worked very hard in training this week and I have been very pleased with the contribution of the players. Everything I have asked them to do, they have done to the letter of the law." Argyle have already played against the other two clubs who were relegated from the Premier League last season, losing 3-1 against West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United on successive Saturdays in September. Sturrock said: "We went to Newcastle and didn't let ourselves down. And I thought we were competitive against West Brom. I think if we are competitive again, and miserly as far as chances are concerned, then we have got every opportunity. Middlesbrough's form at home has been indifferent and we have got to try to prey on the fans' nervousness." Sturrock believes that apart from the defeat at Blackpool a fortnight ago, Argyle have given a good account of themselves on their travels this season. He said: "Outwith the game against Blackpool, I think we have been very competitive away from home. We haven't been outfought or outplayed. Now we have just got to put the icing on the cake by cutting down on the mistakes we are making at the back and tightening ourselves up as a defensive unit." Strachan has signed a four-year contract with Middlesbrough. Sturrock added: "I played against him, took over at Southampton after him and I have talked to him periodically over the years. We have had a bit of banter. He has had a really good career as a manager."
Paul Sturrock may be without Rory Fallon at Middlesbrough tomorrow, but some other short-term injury worries are likely to ease before the trip. Fallon has a calf strain which has prevented him taking a full part in training this week and though Sturrock has not yet excluded him from his plans, he has admitted that the striker remains a doubt. "We'll give Rory Fallon every opportunity, while Shane Lowry has come back into training today," he said. "He's OK, and Jim Paterson has trained OK as well, while David Gray will have a fitness test. Rory is the main concern. David McNamee took a wee knock on his ankle on Tuesday and he has tendinitis as well, so he's doubtful."
Paul Sturrock is cautiously optimistic Marcel Seip will extend his loan spell at Blackpool and has also admitted there has been no interest elsewhere in Seip. Sturrock also said there had also been no interest shown in Steve MacLean. Sturrock had been planning to discuss the future of fringe players with the board yesterday and one option being considered is that the club could settle contracts of out-of-favour players. "That's something we'd like to look into, because we're in limbo land with one or two players," he said. "That's something we're going to have to discuss with the board. MacLean? There's been no interest in him whatsoever. The assessment I'm having to make at this minute in time is the extension of players' contracts. The board, like me, have made it plain they would like to keep what we call prized assets – and do something about the other ones."
Paul Sturrock is planning to carry out a review of all the players currently out on loan and admitted that he may be tempted into recalling some players, dependent on the differing clauses in their temporary deals. He said: "I will be doing a review of all our loans because we are getting a bit thin on the ground, with injuries and all sorts of things. I am going to assess which ones have clauses that mean I can bring them back. I can bring back Craig Noone quite quickly, for example, but Bolasie I can't touch until Christmas." Sturrock is also scheduled to hold a meeting with all the club scouts at the team hotel on Friday prior to the game at Middlesbrough. He said: "I am meeting all our scouts at the hotel tomorrow, so we can start revamping the scouting aspect of the club."
Alan Judge, Cillian Sheridan and Joe Mason have been called-up for international duty with the Republic of Ireland. Judge and Sheridan have been selected for the under-21 fixtures in Georgia and Armenia next month, whilst Mason has been called-up to the under-19 squad for the UEFA qualifiers in San Marino.
Jamie Mackie is being tracked by Derby County, according to newspaper reports. Derby manager Nigel Clough is familiar with Mackie from his days as manager at Burton Albion, who Mackie faced when with Exeter City. Clough said: "We know about him from his Exeter days when he impressed us. "He has got pace, which is something we haven't got in the team." One report last weekend claimed that County were planning a £1 million bid for Mackie in January, but Paul Sturrock is not treating the story very seriously. He said: "We have had no offers for Jamie. He is a handful. He's improving with the work and is a very dedicated professional who wants to do well for himself. But goals are the important part for him – if you look at his goals scored to games played ratio. That will determine where Jamie will finish his career." Sturrock does not expect to have to sell key players in January. He said: "The board have made it plain that they would like to keep what you would call our prize assets, and to do something about moving the other ones on."
Alan Gow has been a peripheral figure since joining Argyle in the summer, but Paul Sturrock remains hopeful of bringing the best out of him sooner rather than later. Gow's failure to establish himself in the first team has led to rumours that he might be on the move to another club, but Sturrock firmly quashed that idea when he was asked. "The boy Gow's agent thought it would be an ideal opportunity to let Alan go out on loan, but there's no way he's going anywhere," Sturrock said. "He's part of the plans. There are certain things he's going to have to bring to the show, and certain things I want him to bring to the show. There are one or two things that I feel he can still contribute. He is now realising that he's going to have to take on board what we're looking for when the other team has the ball. When he does that, I'm sure we're going to have a gifted player on our hands." Sturrock explained that Argyle's place in the relegation zone has counted against Gow. He said: "Alan is disappointed about being out of the team at this minute in time, because he had scored two goals and he was involved in making a couple of goal as well, but, with the situation we're in, we've had to put a more solid unit together and that has taken his kind of player out of the scenario." Sturrock asked Gow to play on the left side of midfield during the reserve-team fixture against Exeter City on Tuesday and said: "In the first half, I thought Alan was disappointing, but in the second half he came into the fray. He opens doors. He put George through and he came up with a couple of other good passes." Yoann Folly also pleased Sturrock on Tuesday. "I thought Folly is starting to show some of the ingredients he has," he said. "There was a sharpness and a vitality about him that I've not seen for a while, and I was pleased about that."
Argyle have failed in their attempt to rescind Darcy Blake's red card ahead of Saturday's game at Middlesbrough. The decision leaves Paul Sturrock short of right-back cover and disappointed with the outcome of the appeal hearing. He said: "It's definitely a blow and we're obviously very disappointed our appeal has failed. If you look at the replay of the tackle, it's nowhere near as vicious as people have made out. We sent a letter containing our thoughts away with the video. We felt it was worth nothing more than a yellow card, but certainly not red. It's pot luck when you decide to appeal. It's a huge blow for the boy, who did very well when he came on." Sturrock must now keep his fingers crossed that David McNamee and David Gray shake off their injury worries. McNamee, who has had an Achilles injury, came through 73 minutes for the reserves yesterday but was replaced by youth player Ryan Leonard with Sturrock concerned he may have injured his ankle. "We brought him off because I felt he might have rolled his ankle and we didn't want to risk that," said Sturrock. "But, like I say, it's precautionary and we're hopeful David can shake it off. We'll give David Gray every opportunity up until kick-off time. He's responding to treatment, but he's in the doubtful category." Rory Fallon and Jim Paterson are also doubtful for the trip to Teesside. Fallon sustained a calf strain against Ipswich. Sturrock added: "There's no severe tear in there, but he's had an Achilles tendon problem that has festered in him since the start of the season and that has flared up because of the calf strain. We're hopeful that he'll respond to treatment as well." The fitness of Shane Lowry is also causing concern, but there was good news about Paterson. "Shane has rolled his ankle and missed the last two days of training, but Jim came back into training this morning," Sturrock said. "We'll see what reaction he has."
Argyle reserves drew 1-1 with Exeter City at Home Park yesterday, the goal scored by Alan Gow. Paul Sturrock admitted he had not been overly-impressed with his side's display. "I'm disappointed. That's about the poorest our reserves have played for a while," he said. "Before this match, the reserves had been at the top of their game. But this time they were nowhere near the standards they can achieve." Sturrock gave a guarded thumbs-up to the form of one or two of his senior players. He said: "I thought Yoann Folly had a sharpness and vitality about him. And Alan Gow was disappointing in the first half, but in the second he came into the fray and showed he can open doors." Sturrock, though, was not happy about Ashley Barnes' sending off. "I thought Barnsey was stupid. I'll be having words with him to find out what the story is," he said. Argyle: Letheren, McNamee, Timar, Gerring, Brett, Mason, Kinsella, Folly, Gow, Donnelly, Barnes. Subs – Leonard, Head (not used - Clifford, Baker, Chenoweth).
Paul Sturrock will be in London today hoping to speed up his search for a new coach. Sturrock will be in the capital as part of Argyle's bid to host World Cup matches in 2018, and he is also hoping to persuade Roy Gardner and other board members to give him the green light to sign a new coach. Graham Coughlan is thought to be a strong contender for the role but Sturrock would not confirm anything. He said: "I shall be meeting up with some of the powers that be in London today. One of the topics we'll be discussing is that we're one coach light at the moment. We'd like to bring somebody else in so that would enable us to have the three of us working very hard together. But it's something I'll have to run by the board first. Pej has come in to cover us at this minute in time. But it's not a full-time job for Mike. He'll be going back to work with the youth squad. Then he can come and help us as and when we need him. I've taken most of the training over the past week which has given me a freshness as well. It is something that I'm quite happy about; being back on the training ground big-time. Refreshing is the word I would use." When asked about the mood of the players, Sturrock replied: "Excellent. They were a bit down the game after the game on Saturday because they felt we were handling things at 1-0, but goals change games. All of a sudden we were on the back-foot instead of the front-foot, and we had a few that tired dramatically, and we have worked very hard on the fitness levels of the team. We had a real hard session and I'm hopeful we've topped up a few engines. There was also one or two that showed a naivety shape-wise as the game went on. Sheridan was in that category, so we've worked hard on him." Also to be discussed today will be the possibility of renewing player contracts and trimming down the surplus numbers in the squad. Sturrock added: "We would like to have the opportunity to put a lot of the players out on loan but that's going to be taken away from us. We are in limbo-land with two or three of our players and it's something we might look into. The other assessment I'm making is the extension of contracts. There are people going out of contract I have to negotiate with and that is another discussion to have. The Board have made it plain they would like to keep what you would call our prized-assets and do something about the others."
Carl Fletcher has no doubts that Gary Sawyer will bounce back from making a costly mistake in the draw against Ipswich Town on Saturday. He said: "Things like that happen in football. We have all been there and made bad mistakes, but it's how you react to it. I think Gaz is strong enough mentally to just get on with it. He shouldn't dwell on it. He shouldn't worry too much about it. It's one of those things and it has gone now. He's a good, strong character and he's a good footballer. He will bounce back stronger than ever. No-one put any blame on him. It's unfortunate, but it could have happened to any one of us." Fletcher had put Argyle into the lead against Ipswich with his first goal of the season. He said: "I don't know whether Jamie was trying to set Rory up but it seemed to sit up for me. It was on my weaker foot so I just tried to hit it well and get it on target. Luckily, it went in, which was nice. The first one of the season." Fletcher came close to getting a second goal in the 39th minute, and added: "I was a bit disappointed it didn't go in. It was on my stronger foot, that one. I think with the chances we created, on another day we could have wrapped it up quite easily earlier on. You have got to take the positives out of the game and work on the things that we didn't do well." Fletcher has been encouraged by Paul Sturrock in recent matches to try and get forward more to support the attack, and it has made a difference. He said: "I think I had four shots on Saturday and I had a couple at Bristol City as well, so by the law of averages one was going to go in." Argyle finished the game with only 10 players on the pitch after Darcy Blake was controversially sent-off. Fletcher said: "I think referees are being told to stamp down on certain things. It was disappointing, but you have just got to get on with it. You hope it evens out throughout the season, but you never know whether it does or not." Argyle also had to use all three of their substitutes as replacements for injured players. Rory Fallon, Jim Paterson and David Gray could not complete the match. Fletcher said: "We were unfortunate with the injuries we picked up. We had to put players in different positions left, right and centre, and when things like that happen it's very tough, but I thought the lads dealt with it well and got through the game. Unfortunately, we didn't get the win that we maybe deserved but the character and everything else is something to build on."
Kari Arnason was back in action on Saturday, and he did not emerge from the game unscathed. Arnason won the sponsors' man of the match award, but was unable to pick up his post-match prize in person as he was being attended to by the medical staff, having five stitches applied to a head wound inflicted by Ipswich striker Jon Walters. "It was an elbow from Walters, but the referee didn't blow his whistle," Arnason said. "I don't know what he was thinking. He said it was not foul play." The referee may not have had a good view of Darcy Blake's tackle on Alan Quinn late in the game, either, according to the Argyle players. "We were trying to tell the referee it was not even a yellow card, because Darcy went for the ball," Arnason added. "I think a yellow would have been all right, but I think a red was over the top. He went in hard for the challenge, but this is English football. It wasn't a red card, in my view." Arnason managed to complete the game despite the head wound, and was glad to be back in the fray. "It's nice to win the trust of the gaffer, and it was good to be playing again," he said. "It's very good to be playing alongside Shane Lowry. He gives me very good cover. I think he played a great game on Saturday. I think we have a good partnership, and we just have to build on it. We have not played that many games together. We gave them their goal with a mistake, which was unfortunate. We played good football in the first half, it was one of our better halves this year, but we tend to suffer from a little bit of stress when we are 1-0 ahead because we don't have many points. It's tough. We still have to work on our shape. It isn't good enough. I think we defended well and we kept the ball well at times in the game, but we still have some work to do." Along with the rest of his team-mates. Arnason has been getting used to working with Paul Mariner. He said: "He is a hands-on kind of coach. We were in a hole and the club thought what we needed was a fresh voice. I definitely think it will help us, but I liked Sloop and Summers as well. I thought we defended well on Saturday and we kept the ball well at times, but we still have some work to do."
Darcy Blake expects Paul Mariner to be very influential in his role as head coach. He said: "He has made a great impact. He just likes the hard work, and he runs through things with you. That's no disrespect to the other coaches that were here before because they did a great job as well. But this guy is more hands on and I think he's a really good coach. Hopefully, he can get us out of this relegation battle." Argyle's head of youth coaching Mike Pejic was also involved in the training of the first team squad before the visit of Ipswich. Carl Fletcher said: "Pej knows his stuff, inside and out. All the players here respect him as a coach. Everyone is working hard to try to get the results we need to get us out of the position we are in."
Carl Fletcher put Argyle 1-0 up against Ipswich and both he and his team-mates celebrated below the Argyle directors' box. As they did so, Fletcher and some of the other players gave a thumbs up gesture. Fletcher carefully chose his words when explaining his goal celebration. He said: "There are a lot of politics in football and players don't mind that if it doesn't affect them. But when certain things start to affect us on the football field, then we have got a right to stand up and say something. Marcel playing for Blackpool last week should never have happened. At any other club in the country they wouldn't have let someone play on loan against them. I'm not saying it would have made a difference to the scoreline or anything. But it shouldn't have happened and it made us look like a Mickey Mouse club, and players take that to heart. At the end of the season, if we get relegated by one goal, that's going to affect all our livelihoods, not only the players but the people working at the club. There was a certain photo this week where people appeared to be celebrating us losing, and things like that. Like I said before, it's just the politics of football really, but when it affects the players straight on then they are likely to stand up and say something. At the end of the day, it's going to bring us closer together. It's not nice when it feels like some people are not wanting us to go out there and win on a Saturday." When asked who he was referring to, Fletcher replied: "I will let you figure that one out. It's just disappointing from everyone's point of view, when the players are working hard – day in, day out." Argyle remain in 23rd position in the table, one point above Ipswich. Fletcher said: "In times of adversity, you find out the true characters of people. Usually it brings people closer together, and I think we have always had quite a strong team spirit here anyway. We know we are in a tough position, and we know we haven't played great this season. There are some games we should have won when we didn't, and some games we deserved to lose. But we are trying our hardest to put things right. When you have got other people working against you it's not nice."
Argyle are set to appeal against the dismissal of Darcy Blake on Saturday. Paul Sturrock said: "We have had it watched since then and it doesn't seem to be the challenge the referee thought it was. We will be contemplating an appeal, but I want to look at it first before I make any decisions." Blake was the first player to be sent off by referee Hooper in 11 matches this season. Sturrock added: I don't think he has got it right, and I'm hopeful that if we do appeal he's man enough to have a look at it and take away the red card." It was the first time Blake had been sent off, and he was convinced it was a clean tackle. He said: "I know I took the ball. Whether or not it was two-footed, I didn't really see myself. The adrenalin just takes over. I have been in to see the gaffer and he's going to have a look at it. If I have got a case for an appeal, then we have got to take it further because I don't want to be missing games. I have come here to play games and for something like this to happen is a blow to me, and obviously it's a blow for the club as well. David Gray is injured as well, but if things do go badly we have got players who can fill in."
Gary Sawyer was disconsolate after his mistake led to Ipswich Town's equaliser on Saturday. Paul Sturrock said: "No manager, it doesn't matter who you are, can legislate for individual errors like that. To Gary's credit, he has had a good season so far and he rolled his sleeves up and battled on from there. I thought we had weathered the storm and were looking as though we were going to go on and win the game. But the goal kind of knocked the stuffing out of us. He apologised to the players after the game for the mistake. At the end of the day, he's a very professional boy and I thought he handled it very well for the rest of the game. A lot of people would have wilted. As a team, I don't think we handled that goal very well. That was the disappointing thing for me." Sturrock also revealed he had told Carl Fletcher before the game to try to get into more attacking positions. He said: "I had a wee word with Carl today that I felt he was sitting a bit too deep when balls were going up to the front, and we needed more support from him. Lo and behold, he pops up with a really good finish. He could have had another one in the second half, but their keeper made a good save." Sturrock was pleased with the performance of centre-back Kari Arnason on his return from a torn hamstring. He said: "He looked very competent at centre-back today, where there have been times I have felt he hasn't really appreciated the position. He has taken on board the work we have done over the last two or three days. He looked a very aggressive centre-back and I was very pleased with him." Sturrock and Paul Mariner were stood together in the Argyle technical area for most of the match, Mariner's first at Home Park since his appointment, and Sturrock welcomed his presence. He said: "I think Paul Mariner wears his heart on his sleeve. He's a get-up-and-go type of person and he has benefited the team over the last couple of days. I think the two of us worked very well today, standing next to each other. It benefited us because we had different ideas and different comments. I'm well suited to that."
Newspaper reports suggest that Paul Mariner's former Ipswich team-mate John Wark has turned down the chance to take up a full-time scouting role with Argyle. Wark travelled from East Anglia to Plymouth to meet up with Mariner before the game on Saturday. While not interested in a full-time scouting role, Wark is prepared to offer his services on an occasional basis.
Referee Simon Hooper took centre-stage in the second-half of Argyle's 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town yesterday. Hooper missed an elbow from Jon Walters on Kari Arnason and then showed an extremely harsh red card to Darcy Blake. Paul Sturrock said: "He didn't see the Arnason incident, so it would have been very difficult for him to do anything about it. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on that one because I could tell from the angle he was at it would have been difficult to see it. I was right behind the line of the ball and I didn't see it, and he was on the same line. Saying that. I would have expected the linesman or the fourth official to see the it. He has a huge cut on his eye and there was another one later on that was close. The sending-off; the boy bounced up and didn't look out of sorts and none of their players were outrageous about it. The next minute the red card was out. It was very, very soft and I don't think he's got it right, and I'm hopeful he's a man enough, if we do appeal, to have a look and take away the red card."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Ipswich Town at Home Park, the goal scored by Carl Fletcher after 21 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Arnason, Lowry, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, Duguid, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs - Sheridan, Clark, Blake (not used – Letheren, Gow, Timar, Barnes). Attendance - 10,875
Keith Todd has outlined his plan for succession within the Argyle coaching set-up. He said: "The results this season have not been what we would have liked. As we've said on a few occasions, the Board, the same as the fans, feels every one of those goals that go in and every one of those mistakes really do hurt. We are very well aware of the frustrations that are out there. We said in July when the new Board formed that we were putting together a five-year plan. We've accelerated some of the pieces of that work. In particular, working with Paul Sturrock on the on-field activities and the whole breadth of what we need to do to build this club for the future. One of the first steps, and it is always difficult when these steps are taken, was the need to talk to the existing coaching team and say that their contracts would not be renewed at the end of the season. We felt it was the right to be upfront and to not leave it in the balance, and so, as you well know, Kevin has left the club and John Blackley is also leaving the club. We wish them well for the future and they wish this club great success in the future. One of the changes which we wanted to bring out was whether we could bring Paul Mariner back to Home Park to work with Luggy in building the future of Plymouth Argyle. There shouldn't be any doubt there about how diligently, how strenuously and how energetically the on-field team, under Paul's leadership, is working to rectify what we're all disappointed with in terms of results. The structure is very clear. The two Pauls will be working very closely together. All of the decision-making will work from Paul Sturrock through to the Head Coach Paul Mariner. We have laid the first foundation with Paul Mariner arriving here. From my conversations with Paul Sturrock, we know there are a number people out there who would love to come back and help the cause; people who really believe in Plymouth Argyle Football Club. As I've said before, I have never been involved with running a football club, but I have been involved with running successful businesses, and one of the things in successful businesses is succession right across the whole spectrum."
Paul Sturrock believes the arrival of Paul Mariner is the first building block to a change of fortunes for Argyle. "First and foremost, Paul is coming in and fitting in to the whole structure, and there is freshness coming in," he said. "We are not finished as far as staff is concerned. This is the first building block and the other ones will come in slowly to make the team. The make-up of it, Paul and I decided, would be something that we take our time with. We want to get this right. There is a five-year plan being put into place for this football club and this is part of it. What we would like to do is have continuity at this club, like a Liverpool boot-room in the future, where we upgrade from within. That structure takes a bit of time and you have to go out there and find the right people. The first thing I told Paul is that I don't want a nodding dog. I don't want to hear what I think. I want his opinion on things, as I've always wanted from all my coaches. He's disagreed with me a couple of times already and I've actually changed a couple of things on his advice, so that's the way we're going to work. You can talk about football to anybody and sometimes they can give you something different that you didn't think of that benefits the team. I've already been impressed with what he's said about certain players at the club and he's given me food for thought. He will learn the style of play in the Championship and it won't be a problem."
Roy Gardner issued a statement on behalf of the Argyle board yesterday, which read: "The board is well aware of the acute disappointment that our poor start to the season has caused. We are conscious of the concerns and feelings of supporters. We feel every point lost just as passionately as any fan. In July, we embarked on a comprehensive programme to re-look at all aspects of the club, and the poor results on the pitch have accelerated the part of this programme concerned with the on-field activities. As an initial result of this work, we advised all the coaching staff that their contracts would be honoured, but would not be renewed at the end of the season, and that we would be bringing in Paul Mariner to head up all coaching activities. In separate personal conversations with Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley, it was concluded that, in their interest, and that of the club, they would both leave the club immediately to allow for a new coaching regime to be established. We thank them for the considerable part they have played in the growth of the club. Paul Sturrock's contract expires at the end of the season and all options are still open as to what his relationship with the club will be then, or if any earlier change needs to be made during the season. Should anyone doubt it, Paul Sturrock is fully committed to this club and working strenuously as we all strive to improve the on-field performances. He takes responsibility for the poor results on the field. Paul is currently working with the board and has been fully involved with changes that have convinced Paul Mariner to come to Plymouth as head coach. The two Pauls are now working closely together on refreshing all on-field activities, including the coaching set-up. They, and the board, are focused on making further significant changes in order to bring about a rapid improvement to the results. We ask that we all get behind the team and the new regime."
Paul Mariner has revealed his delight at returning to Argyle more than 30 years after he graced the club as a player. "I am delighted to be back," he said. "This role, as intimated, has come a little quicker than I thought it would come. Through the USA and Japanese connections, and my connections there, we were talking about an Ambassadorial role with the World Cup Bid. I was fortunate enough to have a meeting with Paul and we got on like a house on fire. It was remarkable how we hit it off. From those small meetings, he asked me to join his staff and without hesitation I said I would be delighted to do so. Coming back to the club that gave me the first chance in football, I am absolutely elated. It is great for me to be back here and to meet loads of familiar faces. I have had great experience with the players already and it is fantastic for me to work with such an incredible coach as Paul. I am just ecstatic to be here." Mariner has been on the training ground with the players all week and believes the relationship is already starting to blossom. He said: "It is very important that the understanding between Paul and myself, and the players is paramount, and that has already been sorted out. The rapport, even though we've only had a few sessions, between myself, Paul and the players is already bubbling very nicely from my viewpoint. We had a tremendous session and today's was as good, if not better. I thought the boys did very, very well at Bristol City. You expect certain things when a team is at the bottom of the division but the one thing you want to see is whether there is any fight left in the team, and there is a hell of a lot of fight left in this team." As a quirk of fate, Mariner's first home game will be Saturday's meeting with Ipswich Town, a club where he enjoyed success as a player. He said: "Tomorrow is obviously an emotional day for me and I am looking forward to the game, and I'm hoping, with the work Paul and I have done this week, we may see something good from the team. My employers are Argyle. I am obviously excited about playing against Ipswich. It is a special day for me but that is a sideshow. The real show is what's going to happen on the grass and I really can't wait for kick-off time and the final whistle, hopefully with the right result. There is a bit of fallacy where people think you don't get any games in the USA - we probably get more games than anybody. We do have satellites over in the USA and I do tend to watch a few games. Am I A1 down on the Championship? Of course not, but I have a man alongside me that knows all the nuances of this league and I will listen to what he says. I am a football guy and I can pick things up quickly. It is a big task but I love a challenge, and that's why I'm here. I worked with David Moyes at Preston. In those days, I was working as an attacking coach, which was quite unusual in those days back in 1995, and quite innovative from David. The game is still the game. There are different methods I need to pick up and I don't see there being any problem at all. There are obviously some very strong, powerful and talented players in this league, and we have got a couple here. I still have lots of friends in England. I have mates that are in management and coaching now. I've not had the chance to be out-and-about too much in Plymouth, but when I have been, I've been pleasantly surprised by the way people have interacted with me."
Argyle face Ipswich Town tomorrow, with both managers under pressure. It will be Paul Mariner's first game at Home Park since his appointment as head coach. Having signed for Ipswich from Argyle in September 1976 he is sure to get a warm reception from both sets of fans. Paul Sturrock has again insisted he is determined to carry on as manager and would concentrate on turning around the club's fortunes. He said: "No manager likes to be criticised, to be booed and to be in the position we are in at this football club. Roy Keane is a strong character and I don't think he likes the predicament he's in either but, at the end of the day, that's where we are. It's important we dig deep as managers to get ourselves out of it. My job is to get us out of this. I'm realistic enough to appreciate we are not going to get ourselves out of the bottom 10 this season, unless we go on an unbelievable run. But I'm very confident the players are competent enough to take us well away from the relegation tussle. Hopefully, that will start tomorrow." Argyle got their first home win of the season before the international break, beating Scunthorpe United and Sturrock added: "It's Paul's first game at home and, obviously, we want to put daylight between us and Ipswich. We also want as many people in the mire as possible, and you can't wait on other people falling down. You have got to go and catch them up, and the only way you can do that is by winning football games. For 70 minutes against Bristol City, it was probably the most competent we have been this season, but then we shot ourselves in the foot again. If we can take that same attitude and workrate, and add a bit of guile and a bit of luck, I'm confident we will get a result tomorrow." Mariner took his first Argyle training session yesterday morning and Sturrock said: "I took a lot more of the training as well, which was different for me. It was a nice sunny day, I got a bit of work done and I blew my whistle again, for a change. Paul and I had worked out all the training the night before so he just got into it. I thought it was important the players heard his voice, so he did a lot of the early stuff in the session and I took most of the later stuff. He has come here to be an influence to the team. He hasn't come here to just be somebody who stands on the side and watches. He looked very competent on his first day. He did all the right things. I had a word with the players about the whole scenario beforehand and so we soldier on."
Kari Arnason is set to make his comeback from injury tomorrow. Paul Sturrock said: "Arnie trained yesterday morning and we will wait and see what reaction he has had. But he's one that would be important to us." Chris Barker and Reda Johnson remain sidelined, as does Bradley Wright-Phillips. Sturrock said: "We are desperate to get Bradley back into the fold. His knee kept flaring up when he played games so we decided to rest him for two weeks. He has had a week's rest now and he's feeling much better so, hopefully, we are getting to the bottom of it. If not, we will put a wee injection in there just to tidy it up." Sturrock made three changes to his side for the defeat at Bristol City and could do something similar tomorrow. He said: "I think freshness is important again. The three changes I made the other day were an influence to us and I will be freshening up the team again."
Joe Mason could be drafted into the Argyle squad for the visit of Ipswich. Mason has scored five goals in four games for the reserves and Sturrock admitted he was 'tempted' to include Mason among his substitutes tomorrow. He said: "The boy Mason has done very well. I have been very pleased with his progress, to the extent where he's beginning to get around the periphery of the first team bench. He has definitely shown attributes."
Paul Sturrock will not be pursuing any interest in French midfielder Mickael Citony, who played for Argyle reserves against Swindon.
Steve MacLean has been told he can leave Argyle. Paul Sturrock expects MacLean to go out on loan before completing a permanent move in January. He said: "Steve and I have come to a decision that he has to move on. I think that's the appropriate thing for both of us. We've had a chat and he wants the ideal move, just like any footballer would. I've spoken to his agent and I've spoken to Steve. I've issued letters out to all football clubs and we'll wait to see. It'll be up to Steve on the ones that come in. He'll decide on whether he wants to go to these football clubs." MacLean has become increasingly marginalised this season and has frequently found himself training in isolation or with the youth team. Sturrock said: "When he was surplus to requirements, he was generally training to the side, working with the sports scientists or the young boys. I explained the reasons why this happened – he has to be up to general fitness, match-fitness for the opportunities if he's going to move on."
Paul Sturrock has played down suggestions that his position at the club is being undermined by the break-up of his back-room staff. Argyle are expected to confirm John Blackley's departure within the next 24 hours, one week after Kevin Summerfield. However, Sturrock said the restructuring of his coaching team is part of a long-term strategy which will be made clear when Paul Mariner is formally introduced today. He said: "I'm very hopeful that by the time we sit down with Paul Mariner, that I will be able to allay all of those fears and doubts. It's a freshness thing as far as that's concerned – I'm not being derogatory in any way about Kevin Summerfield either – at the end of the day these people have been fantastic colleagues over the last eight to ten years and have been very much part of the competent managerial record I've had. There's a lot more to be done and lot more that's going to be done at this football club with the five-year plan that's going to be significant in terms of where this club finishes up over the next five, six or ten seasons."
Ashley Barnes has revealed how Paul Mariner has already tried to make him a better player. Barnes will officially start working with the new head coach today, but was given a few tips by Mariner before the game at Bristol City on Tuesday. Barnes said: "I'm pleased to be working with him. I don't know much about him, but I heard he's been a legend with England. I just hope I can learn things off of him. I've learned a lot already and he told me a few things to take out into the game with me." Barnes added he was pleased to get a chance in the first team. He said: "Just to be picked was phenomenal. It was a bit like being picked against Wolves last year – it was a great surprise. It was a great performance against City by the lads, but it was sloppy mistakes from set-pieces which cost us three points. It kills us when we've lost games. It's through set-pieces and we can't understand why. We work hard in training and we need to keep doing that. You can't do any more than keep working at it, to put it right."
John Blackley could be the next member of staff to leave Home Park. Blackley is reported to have told players and staff he is leaving the club, however, it is understood various issues have still to be resolved before any official announcement is made. Argyle officials declined to comment directly on Blackley but warned that other coaching posts are under threat. A spokesman said: "The coaches have been told that some of the other contracts will not be renewed when they expire at the end of the season. We can't discuss individuals, but discussions are going on with the coaches over future arrangements."
Argyle lost 3-1 at Bristol City last night but Paul Sturrock believes they regained the pride they had lost at Blackpool. He said: "Several times this year, I have felt heart-sorry for the lads. It seems, every time, we get a kick in the teeth. People will look at the result and come to the wrong conclusion. The content showed we are better than that. I've been trying to get a settled back four and I thought we looked a bit stronger tonight but, when push came to shove as far as somebody picking up didn't pick up, we end up losing a goal. We get back in it then someone is lacking in concentration for a minute straight after the goal. Had we handled five minutes of it, I think we would have sauntered out 1-1. It's unlike any team I have been involved with. We just seem to get to stage where we have zany moments, but, again, it's not having a settled back four, not having a confident back four. I thought the two full-backs were excellent; I thought Shane Lowry did well; I couldn't blame any of them. But, then again, a set-piece kills us." Sturrock brought Ashley Barnes into the side for his first start of the season and recalled Alan Judge and Chris Clark. He added: "Ashley did all the right things for us. He worked the shape very well, linked us up, had a few shots. It would be great if he could get a goal, something to latch on to. I thought the front two, for the service they got, did well; made bad balls good balls; always had an edge to them. The width players needed to be freshened up. I thought Judgy did well, and Clarky. It was a hundred miles better than Saturday, a hundred years better than Saturday. It showed Saturday was what I described it as - it definitely was something with the preparation that cost us dear on Saturday. We were up to the pace tonight; we were sharp all over the pitch." The game was the first chance for Paul Mariner to see the team in action, and Sturrock said: "He was very impressed by our hard work, and shape and organisation. There's a lot to work on. He's had a wee taste; he's had a wee look; and it's back to reality as far as crossed balls into the box goes. He'll be involved in training this week. The content will be a discussion between him and I, but he's come here to coach. I will give him criteria's of what I'm looking for and he's going to push on with that."
Argyle's reserve team yesterday included trialist Mickael Citony, a 29-year-old French midfielder who is a free agent, having left Swiss club Urania Geneva in the summer.
Argyle lost 3-1 at Bristol Rovers, the goal scored by Jamie Mackie after 75 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Timar, Lowry, Sawyer, Judge, Fletcher, Duguid, Clark, Mackie, Barnes. Subs - Sheridan, Gow, Fallon (not used – Letheren, Paterson, Blake, Folly). Attendance - 15,021
Argyle reserves lost 3-2 at Swindon Town this afternoon, both goals scored by Joe Mason. Argyle: Letheren, Leonard, Gerring, Brett, Clifford, Mason, Trott, Kinsella, Citony, Head, Donnelly. Subs - Nelson, Baker, Rickard (not used - Chenoweth, Coombes)
Paul Mariner will take his place in the Argyle dugout for the first time against Bristol City tonight and Paul Sturrock said: "I think we have got to get started as quickly as possible. He has got to find his sea legs." Mariner's appointment as head coach, rather than assistant manager, has led to speculation that Sturrock, at some point, could become director of football at Home Park. Sturrock, however, insisted it was a case of 'same job, different title'. He added: "There is a lot more I will be able to chat about when Paul comes in. Then I can give you more of an update to all of it." Mariner has no experience of coaching in English football but believes he will soon come to terms with life in the Championship. He said: "It's a very difficult, competitive league. On any given day, the top team can beat the bottom team and the bottom team can beat the top team. I'm going in with my eyes wide open. Obviously, I have got to pick the league up but I have got every confidence in myself I can do that."
Argyle will tonight try to become the first team to beat Bristol City at home in a Championship match during 2009. Paul Sturrock said: "It will be a difficult game tonight but we have been very competitive there in the past. I would say the nearest we get to an Exeter-Plymouth derby is this one. They have got good footballers with a wealth of experience. They have got a lot of armoury that can hurt you. But saying that, we have got to take confidence from our performances there in the last couple of seasons. It has been a happy hunting ground for us." City's chief attacking threat is Nicky Maynard, who has scored six of their 11 league goals. Sturrock said: "The boy Maynard has been on fire this season and he's going to be a handful. We are going to have to quieten him down." Sturrock could shake-up his side tonight with Alan Gow, Cillian Sheridan and Alan Judge among those hoping to be called up. Sturrock said: "There are a lot of people in contention for tonight, but this game has come so quick and there is so much to think about as far as selection is concerned. Do I make wholesale changes or do I dabble a wee bit? It's one of those ones. I have got to weigh up the opposition, check the DVDs and the Pro-Zone, and come up with the right formula. Fresh legs are important to us. I think that's the key to start with."
Illness will prevent Kari Arnason from being recalled for tonight's game. Arnason has recovered from a torn hamstring but has been laid low by a chest infection over the last couple of days. Paul Sturrock "It's a blow because I was hoping to bring Arnie back. It would have been nice to have him in the team." Meanwhile, Bradley Wright-Phillips will be ruled out for a couple of weeks by a knee injury. Sturrock said: "Bradley's knee has been flaring up periodically so we have had it scanned again. There is a bit of swelling in the knee and they think a couple of weeks' rest should sort it. Hopefully, he will come back totally up and running."
Shane Lowry has played five times for Argyle in just over a month and is already on his third central-defensive partnership. Tonight he is expected to team up again with Krisztian Timar after James Chester had to return to Manchester United. Lowry said: "That run of bad luck in central defence seems to be the story of our life this season with so many defenders getting injured. I suffered an ankle injury myself, but I'm really disappointed for James. I think he and me were starting to gel quite well and forge a good understanding. Unfortunately, it was taken away quite quickly. But injuries are part of football and Krisztian came in and I think he did quite well. So, one person's loss is another person's gain." Lowry travelled to Australia during the international break, but could not play in the matches with Holland and Oman. Lowry said: "It was obviously disappointing, but the reason I couldn't play was because my FIFA international clearance hadn't come through in time. We had hoped it would have been done by then but I couldn't even get a place on the subs' bench. But at the same time, it was good experience to get in among the squad. They are a very talented bunch of players."
Luke Summerfield's loan spell at Leyton Orient has been extended by a further month.
Marcel Seip insisted he will never again play for Argyle while Paul Sturrock remains manager at Home Park. Seip was speaking after scoring to help Blackpool to a 2-0 victory over Argyle on Saturday. He said: "I'd go back but while Sturrock is there, I won't play for them again that's for sure. We had a fall out and I don't want to go into details but I won't play for him again and I don't think he wants me as a player, either, to be honest. The feeling is mututal. I haven't spoken to him." Seip said he had not been altogether surprised at being allowed to play against Argyle, as it was one of the pre-conditions imposed by Blackpool. He said: "The deal was done and because of the international break there was only so many games and if I missed this one, I wouldn't have been allowed to come. As it is now, I've got the chance to play on Tuesday against Sheffield United, then away to Swansea on Saturday and, finally, Doncaster away. I'll go back to Plymouth but, to be honest, I just hope there's another deal somewhere." In contrast to Sturrock, Seip piled praise on Ian Holloway, who brought him to Plymouth from Heerenveen in 2007. He said: "I'd been playing with kids and training on my own at Argyle to stay fit. I didn't enjoy it at all there. After playing so many games for Argyle and suddenly to be bombed out for whatever reason is awful. I assume that will happen again if I go back. That's why the minute I go back, I hope something is lined up so that I can go again. I needed to get out, and I'm just glad to be on the pitch again. And so the minute I knew about coming here, especially as I know Ian Holloway and the way he plays and how I love his style of football, I went up to Blackpool straight away." Seip acknowledged that it was rare for an on-loan player to be allowed to line-up against his parent club. He said: "Normally, you don't play against your old team, but I enjoyed the match and was happy to be playing. But I did play and I scored the first goal and was happy with the win. I can't go over the top after scoring. I go at the end of the month and have a year left with Argyle. In the end, Argyle let me go and I was allowed to play against them. I want to do well for Blackpool but even so I just celebrated easy and got on with it."
After announcing his resignation as assistant coach of New England Revolution on Saturday, Paul Mariner said: "Plymouth Argyle is in my blood. I'll be in Bristol on Monday night, ready for the game on Tuesday. In football, there is not much sentiment. But, if sentiment is involved in this scenario, then they gave me my very first chance as a player, so I grabbed it with both hands. The teams you're associated with are the ones you look for every week, and, when they came knocking on my door asking me to be employed there, I was delighted. I have a lot of friends back there, old friends, old players. When I went back there last time, it was fantastic. So hopefully I can do a decent job for all the supporters and the board."
Paul Mariner is set to rejoin Argyle as head coach under Paul Sturrock, the club announced today. Roy Gardner today said: "On behalf of the board, I am pleased to announce that we hope to confirm soon the appointment of Paul Mariner as Head Coach, working for Paul Sturrock. Paul Mariner is not only an Argyle legend, but has established himself as a highly respected and leading coach in American Major League Soccer and internationally, including in Japan. He will bring his own style and a wealth of experience to the club, supporting the development of the football side of the club with Paul Sturrock. Paul Sturrock is already charged with working to complete the review of all aspects of the football side of the club, including: coaching; training facilities; the scouting system; medical and physiotherapy; and youth football. He will now be supported in this work by Paul Mariner. The board are appreciative of the co-operation that New England Revolution have shown in releasing Paul Mariner. The two clubs have agreed a first step of a potential ongoing relationship with a plan that a number of the New England Revolution younger stars will join Plymouth for a few weeks for joint-training sessions later in the season. This is an appointment which will cause a tingle to run down the spine of any Pilgrim. Paul Mariner represents a past, present and future that is the very essence of what Argyle should be about: a beloved ex-player who knows and understands the Greens and its fans, who has carved out a post-playing career as a respected coach and who now passionately wants to put something back into his former club."
Keith Todd and Paul Sturrock were united in their defence of the club's decision to allow Marcel Seip to play against Argyle yesterday, when he scored the first goal in the defeat. "It didn't matter who scored the goal," said Sturrock. Blackpool had several chances: they hit the post; our goalie's made two great saves; a Blackpool player was going to score. If it hadn't have been Marcel in that strip, one of the other ones would have been there, flicking it in. In the end, the important thing to remember is that Marcel has been put on the transfer-list, and we are attempting to move Marcel on. We have got an opportunity to put him in the shop window. The loan would not have happened unless we agreed to it, and the board and myself thought it was appropriate to put him in the shop window." Keith Todd said: "I suppose it was bound to happen that Marcel would score the goal, but I don't think we should look on it as anything other than probably the cover should have been better. Whether it was Marcel or any of the others, there was not enough cover and why that was is something the manager will have to address. We understood exactly what we are doing with Marcel going out on loan, to get Marcel some match practice, which is good, as with any loan players. The issue of him playing against us...no disrespect to Marcel, but he's just another player. We are responsible for our own defending; if we don't defend, we are going to get goals scored against us, whether it's Marcel, Adam or any other of their players. It's a goal against us, that's all it is. We have got to concentrate on getting our defending better and building from here."
Paul Sturrock blamed Argyle's defeat at Blackpool on a marathon coach journey that ruined the preparations for the match. He said: "People will say that I am using excuses but there were 10 players out there who looked yards down from the other team. I make no excuse for using an excuse but we had 10 1/2 hours on the bus yesterday." A series of incidents and accidents caused serious delays on the journey and Sturrock added: "It was four hours until we got to Bristol. By 7pm, we managed to get on to Stanley Park in Blackpool, in the pitch black, and had a wee jog for 15 minutes, just to see if we could get it out of their legs. It is unfortunate. It is something you cannot legislate for. If we'd come up here in four hours, nice and fresh, I think you might have seen a different game. I thought every one of my players looked off the pace at the start of the game. For 45 minutes, we were second-best in all departments. We looked a very leggy team. We didn't get the ball down and try to pass it, like we had done in the past couple of games. We were off the pace." Argyle's best performer was Shane Lowry, who missed the coach trip because he flew into Manchester Airport after a long flight following international duty with Australia. "The only one who didn't sit on the bus came by plane from Australia but he looked sharp and probably our best player," said Sturrock. "You can put two and two together and come up with five." Despite the Blackpool pressure, Argyle were only 1-0 down at half-time, and were much more themselves in the second half. Sturrock said: "I had words at half-time; we changed things around; and we looked a wee bit better but I do feel we've let down our supporters with our first-half performance. It was a Get Out of Jail Free card to be only 1-0 down. It gave us an opportunity and we definitely managed to get round their goal and managed to make some chances in the second half. The first half was like the Alamo, but people were second to every ball. There wasn't a sharpness in any of the players. In the end, we got exactly what we deserved out of the game. Blackpool are excellent team. They have got some really good players and, if you give them time on the ball, they are going to hurt you."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Blackpool. Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Timar, Lowry, Sawyer, Blake, Fletcher, Duguid, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs - Sheridan, Gow, Judge (not used – Letheren, Clark, Barnes, McNamee). Attendance - 7,765
Keith Todd has told Argyle fans to expect further announcements regarding the clubs future direction 'within a week'. He said: "I'm working particularly closely with Paul Sturrock to build the club, and all the plans have Paul Sturrock heavily involved. There's been a lot of speculation about Paul Mariner and I don't think it's appropriate to talk about that at the moment, but what the board has discussed is refreshing the total on-field, off-field team, trying to lay the foundations for a stronger club, going forward. It's no disrespect to the likes of Kevin Summerfield; it's just that, when you get to a certain stage, you need to bring some different types of character into the team. We told Kevin that his contract wouldn't be renewed at the end of the year; we gave him the option to leave now or stay; and he decided that it made most sense for him, and probably for us, that he moved on now. The next steps will all unfold over the next few days. I'm optimistic that, within a week, a few things will be announced. There are a lot of steps that are involved in this. Let's just say they are quite well advanced."
Jamie Mackie insists he and his team-mates will be 'raring to go' at Blackpool this afternoon. "We've had a couple of weeks off, but now we're all raring to go again," he said. "I don't think having the break has dented our confidence because we still got those results beforehand. All I think it has done is freshen the lads up. We had played a lot of games before the break, so we needed that freshen up. We've now got three really tough games coming up, where we need to pick up a lot of points." Argyle face three games in the next eight days, but Mackie is focusing on today's clash. "When you have three games in a week, you can only really think about the next game which, in this case, is Blackpool," he said. "We'll look to do what we can up there, try and get three points, and then worry about Bristol City on Monday." Mackie was in bullish mood ahead of the long trek to Blackpool. He said: "It's a tough place to go and that's how Plymouth should be as well. They have had a really good start to the season and at the moment there is a lot between the two clubs. We need to go up there, get the win, and try and shorten that gap." That means much will be asked of Mackie and strike partner Rory Fallon, a partnership that Mackie believes will continue to blossom. "I think every time I've played with Rory we have played well together," he added. "I love playing off a big man because I live on the shoulder. He wins his fair share in the air and that helps me massively. All I'd say is long may it continue." One man looking to stop Argyle this afternoon will be team-mate Marcel Seip and should he play today, Mackie intends to make it tough for him. "Marcel has played some good games for Plymouth since I've been here," he said. "I know what he is all about and he will know what Rory and I are all about. It should be a good challenge."
Argyle have tonight confirmed that Kevin Summerfield has left the club. A statement issued by the club said: "The Plymouth Argyle board has been working with manager Paul Sturrock on the shape and structure of the club's football management team, within the framework of a five-year plan designed to fulfil the ambition of bringing Premier League football to Home Park. It was agreed that refreshing the approach to coaching would be an important and beneficial first step along this road. As a consequence, Kevin Summerfield was advised that his contract as assistant-manager would not be renewed when it expired at the end of the current season. In light of this, and following discussions between Kevin and the club, it was mutually agreed that Kevin could leave the club with immediate effect to allow him to pursue further career opportunities. After a partnership of more than eight years between Paul and Kevin, it was generally felt that the time was right, both for Kevin and for the club, for a change of scenario. The club would like to place in record its sincere thanks to Kevin for his service to the Greens covering three decades as a player and a coach. We are extremely grateful and wish him every success for the future. Paul Sturrock will naturally continue as team manger and lead the work to complete the review of all aspects of the football side of the club, including: coaching; training facilities; the scouting system; medical and physiotherapy; and youth football. Further changes will be announced in due course after completion of the review."
Rory Fallon is one of only five players who remain at Home Park from Ian Holloway's time at the club and he insists the game against Blackpool is important, irrespective of the fact that Holloway will be in the home dug-out. He said: "Every match is massive for us, it doesn't matter who we play. We need the three points. The more games we win, the higher we go up. We don't want to be in the bottom three, we want to be doing well. Hopefully, we can get a good result tomorrow." Fallon could face team-mate Marcel Seip tomorrow. He said: "It will be good to see Marce. Whatever happens is part of the game and we will leave it on the pitch, but I'm not going to be taking any prisoners. I will be going all out to win the game for us." Fallon started for New Zealand in their World Cup play-off game in Bahrain last Saturday, returning to Plymouth the day after the game and he has trained with the rest of the squad all week. He said: "I wanted to keep fit and stay sharp. I'm looking forward to playing against Blackpool." Argyle now face three fixtures in the next eight days. Fallon added: "It's going to be a busy period. The role I have got is quite a tough one, so I have just got to look after myself over the next couple of weeks. This is going to be a big month for me and I'm just really looking forward to it. I want to play as well as I can."
Paul Sturrock will have to use an untested centre-back pairing for Argyle at Blackpool tomorrow. Krisztian Timar is set to be recalled following the loss of James Chester, and will play alongside Shane Lowry. There has not been an opportunity for them to develop an understanding in training this week as Lowry has been away on international duty and Sturrock admitted it was far from ideal. He said: "One of them is a right-sider and the other is a left-sider. They are both very good in the air and I would love that partnership to blossom. At the end of the day, who would have thought that Arnason, Barker, Johnson and Seip would have been unavailable to us, for all sorts of reasons." Lowry will not be reunited with the rest of the squad until tomorrow morning, after flying back from Australia. Sturrock said: "Our doctor has been in touch with him to see how he's going to beat the jet lag. We have worked out a wee plan for him. We will see how he looks tomorrow morning. That will probably be the first time we see him. The problem is he is going to have to play with somebody he hasn't played with before, so we are going back to square one as far as the back four is concerned. He didn't play in either of the games in Australia and should be fresh enough because he's young. I think he will fight off the jet lag."
Paul Sturrock has not ruled out the possibility of bringing James Chester back to Argyle on loan at some stage in the future. He said: "People would look at him and say his size is against him in this league, but he's a very good reader of the game and he smells danger. That was the key to him. If you look at the amount of blocks he had and challenges off second balls, it was quite amazing how many times he was in the right area. He has got good spring, by the way, so it wasn't as if he was poor in the air. He definitely went and battled his corner. I think the back four were getting settled and enjoying playing with each other. That's the disappointment for me."
Paul Sturrock believes that if Marcel Seip plays against Argyle on Saturday it will give the game at Blackpool an 'extra edge'. Traditionally, clubs do not allow a player who they loaned out, to play against them. But Sturrock revealed the deal would not have taken place, had there been such a clause. He said: "The deal would not have happened, had that clause not been taken away. With the international break, he would have played very few games. So far he hasn't played a game. If he comes in and plays against us on Saturday – it'll give an extra edge to the game. We're hoping he'll put himself in the shop window, because he didn't start any of the other games. He has Saturday and maybe a couple more games to show himself – which isn't ideal. At this moment in time, nobody else has come in for him. It's very important we get him in the shop window so people can have a look at him." Despite having just two fit senior centre backs at Home Park, Krisztian Timar and Shane Lowry, Sturrock ruled out recalling Seip.
Paul Sturrock anticipates some members of his squad being loaned out within the next few days. Torquay United manager Paul Buckle and Chief Executive Colin Lee were both at Home Park on Tuesday watching Argyle reserves draw 1-1 with Southampton and Sturrock said: "I think they were there to look at two or three players. I had a word with them both the other day to come along and have a look. Obviously, we've still got players we'd like to put out on loan."
Shane Lowry did not play in Australia's Asian Cup win over Oman in Melbourne yesterday, having also been uninvolved in their 0-0 draw with Holland last Saturday.
The international break came at the wrong time for Paul Sturrock, who is disappointed to have the momentum built up by two wins interrupted. However, he has been heartened by the sharpness on the training ground in the last few days. "It would have been nice to have continuity," he said. "After getting ourselves back on the rails, it would have been nice to kick-on, but that's been taken away from us. To be fair, it's the same for everyone. It has been a frustration. It is amazing when you haven't got a game on the Saturday. The edge goes out of training and it is very difficult to whip people into shape when they know they have no game. I always find the first week frustrating but this week there has been an edge to the boys, and I've been very pleased." Several players have been away on international duty and Sturrock added: "The boy Lowry will be flying back into Manchester on Friday, so we have a problem as far as is he going to be fit? He didn't play any part in the games, but again it's the jet lag scenario and how he will react to it. We have fingers crossed on that one. Rory Fallon has come back, trained and he is OK. David Gray is also back and fit as well. We will wait and see what injuries come back." Alan Judge has put up a strong case for inclusion this weekend. Not only did he feature well as a substitute against Scunthorpe, but turned in two man-of-the-match displays for his country. Sturrock added: "The boy Judge put a case up when he came on as sub, so we have to weigh up quite a few things. We are going to be one personnel change because of Chester, but we are not going to change too much, we'll give them the opportunity to do the business again."
Paul Sturrock is refusing to make any comment on whether Paul Mariner could be about to take up a coaching role with Argyle. When asked about Mariner's possible appointment yesterday he replied: "There is no comment to be made at this minute in time. The media will be the first to know if anything changes on that. I will discuss it at the appropriate time." Sturrock would also not be drawn on whether Mariner's possible appointment would have any impact on his existing coaching staff or be an additional role. He said: "That topic, at this minute in time, is not debatable, for the simple reason there is water to go under the bridge."
James Chester has had his loan spell with Argyle ended early due to a knee injury. Chester suffered cartilage damage in 2-1 win against Scunthorpe United on October 3rd and will be out for eight to ten weeks. Paul Sturrock admitted Chester was bitterly disappointed at having to leave Argyle so soon after breaking into the first team. "He's going to have to come under the medical team at Manchester United," he said. "I talked to the boy and he's absolutely gutted. He was really enjoying himself here. So the scourge of the centre-back positions at this football club continues." Sturrock is now considering whether to try to make another loan signing to replace Chester. "We are looking into that at the minute," he said. Chester was hurt in the closing stages of the game against Scunthorpe but still completed the match. Sturrock said: "It was very close to his ligaments and it could have been career threatening. They were really worried about it because they couldn't find anything for a wee while, but the cartilage is snapped right down the middle. So, in one way, it's a shocker for us but in another way I'm pleased for him. He has had a wee taste now and he never let himself down in any way. It's a real kick in the teeth."
Argyle reserves drew 1-1 with Southampton at Home Park yesterday, the goal scored by George Donnelly. Paul Sturrock was pleased with the performance of Donnelly, and said: "A lot of the players needed the game. That was George Donnelly's first full 90 minutes of the season. He had a month out of the start of the season with a hamstring injury and then he went to Luton and finished up playing on the wing and in a different system. So we brought him back and I thought he did very well today. It was a good game and there were some decent performances. Nobody let themselves down and their attitude was excellent." Argyle: Letheren, Leonard, Timar, Brett, McNamee, Gow, Folly, Clark, Mason, Donnelly, Barnes. Subs – Kinsella, Head (not used - Chenoweth, Trott).
Alan Judge and Cillian Sheridan both played for the Republic of Ireland under-21's in their 1-1 draw with Switzerland last night.
Rory Fallon and his team-mates took a huge step towards qualifying for the World Cup when they drew 0-0 against Bahrain on Saturday. Now, victory in the second leg in Wellington next month will guarantee their appearance in the finals. Fallon said: "It is a massive game for the country, and for the lads who will be playing. We are 90 minutes away from the World Cup finals - 90 minutes away from playing in one of the biggest sporting events in the world. But there's no point in being 90 minutes away and losing. We have got to win it now." Rory was playing only his second game for his native country, having scored on his debut against Jordan last month. "The home fans chanted throughout the game and it was so hot, which created a unique atmosphere," he said. "I have never played in a game like it. It was a defensive game, and our defence was so strong. In some ways, drawing 0-0 can help us. If we'd led 1-0 going into the second leg, we might have been tempted to play for the draw - now, we know we have to win it. We're both playing for the whole set of marbles now. If we want to go to South Africa, we have to win; Bahrain at least have to score a goal. Everything is set up very nicely." Rory could follow in the footsteps of his father, Kevin Fallon, who was manager of the New Zealand national team which qualified for the 1982 World Cup finals. He said: "It would create a nice bit of history - a New Zealand father and son who have been involved in different World Cup finals. I'll be working hard to achieve that. As a young boy, you just dream about scoring the goal that takes your country to the World Cup finals. I have that dream and that is what I will be praying about achieving every day for the next month."
Darcy Blake expects to be fit for Argyle's game at Blackpool on Saturday after suffering a calf injury when playing for Wales under-21s on Saturday. Blake admitted he was disappointed to have to drop out of the Wales senior squad but thought it was the only option open to him as he did not want to jeopardise his chances of playing for Argyle. He said: "I felt it a bit on Saturday and I didn't want to aggravate it. I hope to have a couple of days training later this week and I should be fit for the Blackpool game." Blake has started the last two games for Argyle, with both matches ending in wins. He added: "I don't think the international break came at a good time for us because we were on a winning streak. But, hopefully, we can carry that on by beating Blackpool at the weekend." Blake admitted he was enjoying his time at Home Park and would be interested in having his loan extended for the second half of the season.
New England Revolution have confirmed that Paul Mariner has spoken to Argyle about a possible return to Home Park. Lizz Summers, director of communications for the Revolution, said: "Plymouth asked for permission to speak with Paul, which we granted. At this point, nothing is final and Paul and the rest of the coaches are concentrating on a key match against Chicago."
Rory Fallon started the game, and completed 66 minutes, as New Zealand drew 0-0 against Bahrain in Saturday's World Cup play-off first leg. The second-leg is on November 14th. Shane Lowry was not involved for Australia, who drew 0-0 with Holland in Sydney on Saturday night.
Alan Judge scored for the Republic of Ireland under-21s in their 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night. Cillian Sheridan also played.
Darcy Blake started for Wales under-21's in a 2-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on Saturday. Blake was then called up to the full squad for the World Cup qualifier in Liechtenstein on Wednesday but has had to withdraw after picking up a calf injury against Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Newspaper reports suggest that Argyle are considering offering Paul Mariner the position of assistant manager.
Kyle Letheren has vowed to push Romain Larrieu as hard as he can for a first team spot, but is under no illusions about how difficult a task he faces. Letheren has been on the bench for all of Argyle's first team matches this term but has no regrets about his move to Home Park. He said: "I really wanted to go somewhere and play football but I couldn't turn down this opportunity. It's a Championship club, albeit as a number two behind Romain Larrieu, who is a good experienced 'keeper. But I'm not just here to sit on the bench. I'm here to give him a bit of competition for his place. Obviously, he has got more experience than I have, but if I ever get called upon I will have to grab the chance with both hands." Letheren had a pre-season trial with Hereford United but they had already signed Adam Bartlett, a 'keeper from Kidderminster Harriers, and he would not have been guaranteed first team football there. Letheren said: "I played a few games for Hereford but nothing came of that. And then this came up and it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. From what I have seen, Romain is a good 'keeper but, hopefully, I can keep pushing him, albeit I'm only on a short-term contract for now. You have just got to keep training as hard as you can. That's one of my best points. I will keep going until I drop. I haven't trained better anywhere else I have been, but I have accepted Romain is going to play. However, if get a chance, I have got to take it with both hands and let my performances say it all. I'm ready for the nod if Paul Sturrock calls upon me." Letheren has played three matches for Argyle's reserves, including a 9-1 away thrashing of Bournemouth and a 5-1 win at Bristol City. He said: "What I have had to do in those games has been very limited, but I don't think I could have done any more. Obviously, I would love to sign a longer-term deal here, but that depends on Paul Sturrock, who has been great to me. I have worked with a few Championship managers and he's one of the best I have come across. He knows how to talk to you, and I didn't have that at Barnsley. I was on the bench there from 17 years of age but my manager rarely spoke to me. With Paul Sturrock you know what you are doing right, what you are doing wrong and what he expects of you. That's a good thing. You know that if you are not performing you are not going to be in his team."
Paul Mariner has admitted he would be interested in returning to English football. Mariner, who has been visiting Plymouth as part of the World Cup bid whilst on a brief visit to England, has been the assistant to Steve Nicol at the New England Revolution since 2003 and revealed he had never been offered a chance to continue his coaching career in this country. He said: "I have been asked many times whether I would like to work in England but I have never had the opportunity. When the opportunity comes along, I will make that decision. At the present moment, I have got a couple of things in the States that are different to the MLS and they are on the table. I have got a decent reputation out there. I love Boston and everything is hunky-dory, but I'm probably in the house for half of the year. I'm always travelling, scouting and looking at players. It's a nomadic life whatever you do in football." There has been speculation Mariner could be a possible candidate should a managerial vacancy arise at Argyle but he offered his best wishes to Paul Sturrock, who he spent time with at his home on Monday night. Mariner said: "Even though we didn't play together and our paths very rarely crossed, there is the common language of football. We were sat there in his house and, all of a sudden, eight hours went by and I don't even know where it went. We had a great time together. He's just an extremely knowledgeable, nice person who I really took to and we will certainly keep in touch." Mariner follows the fortunes of all his former clubs, and added: "It's just sad Ipswich and Plymouth are where they are at the moment. I'm not sure what's going on at Ipswich but I know that Plymouth have had a lot of injuries. I wish Paul and his staff all the best and I hope everything works out."
Plans to redevelop Home Park will be unveiled in December, according to Keith Todd. He said: "We have got to build the stadium but that almost becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Selection as a World Cup City makes my job, and the Board's job, of financing the stadium that much easier. We will unveil the plans of what it will look like in December and that will be a visible step forward for everybody. It then has to go through formal planning, although we are inside the actual plans, so there is no reason why it should not go through. The point of actually seeing the first signs of earth being moved is still to be finally decided. It may well be that the decision we'll faced with is whether to do it part-way through a season or do we wait until the end of next season? That decision has not yet been taken but, rest assured, this is a serious proposition."
Marcel Seip, who is on loan at Blackpool, could face Argyle when the teams meet on October 17th. Keith Todd said: "It is a quirk of the fixture-list that one of the games during Marcel's loan spell at Blackpool is against us. Blackpool naturally asked us if we would be prepared to let him play in this game. While it is sometimes the case that on-loan players are forbidden from playing against their parent club, all such situations need to be considered on their own merits. After careful thought, in this instance, we felt it would be in our interests and those of the player to grant permission for him to play. Marcel is on the transfer-list and he needs, and we need him, to be playing in matches. Should Marcel be selected against us, I am sure our players will enjoy playing against him."
Paul Sturrock admitted his side had not been at their best on Saturday, despite a first home win of the season. He said: "We have played much better than that this season and lost games here. That just shows you how strange football can be." Rory Fallon's goal against Scunthorpe was nearly identical to the one he scored in the win at Peterborough and Sturrock said: "If you put crosses in the box, Rory will get on the end of most of them. He nearly scored in the first half as well. There has been a debate between me and Rory about him playing two games in a week because he's asked to do a lot of work. But he came to the show and handled the whole 90 minutes again today. Even in our box, he has made a huge difference. Touch wood, we look much safer at set pieces at this minute in time." Scunthorpe drew level in the 75th minute when they were awarded a penalty for a challenge on Martyn Woolford by Romain Larrieu. Woolford was out wide, just inside the penalty area, when he and Larrieu tangled. Sturrock said: "Ro is claiming he pulled his hands away, but what's he doing out there in the first place?" Argyle bounceD back from that to immediately restore the lead with a penalty of their own. Sturrock said: "It would have been very easy for our players to have caved in. But, to be fair, I think they were buoyed by Tuesday night's performance and result. To get the win today is going to help their confidence no end." The wins against Peterborough and Scunthorpe followed seven successive defeats, which had led to call from some supporters for Sturrock to be replaced as manager. He said: "Football managers are under pressure all the time. I have been frustrated, knowing that this team could win football games but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. It looked as if we had shot ourselves in the foot again today. At the end of the day, I don't mind losing games and goals to the creativity of the other team, where somebody smashes something in from 30 yards, or somebody goes past three people and scores. That's part of football. What I do mind is that a lot of the goals have been Plymouth made. That has been the disappointment for me but, saying that, the boys have battled. You can't ask for any more from the players over the last two games. I'm very pleased with them."
Rory Fallon scored to help secure a first win of the season at Peterborough on Tuesday night and he repeated that against Scunthorpe for the first home victory of the campaign. "It's a big relief for everyone - fans, management and the players," he said. "We've put in another strong performance today. The first thing in our mind was to keep strong and keep tight in defence. If we're not up at half-time, we want to be 0-0 and still in the games. Too many times, we've been behind before half-time and it gives us a mountain to climb. Today, we've done the business." As with Tuesday, Gary Sawyer supplied a cross for Fallon. "Gary and Paterson are smashing those crosses in for me," he said. "I could have had one in the first-half as well but the goalie tipped it over. Sawyer is whipping them in for me and I love it when he's putting in balls like that because I always fancy I can score, and it proved again today. I know I can score. I just need the chances. I get the ball, give it, and get in the box to try and win the headers. It's worked perfectly in the last two games. I'm so happy to get those two goals. I thank God for the chances I'm getting and I'm really happy to get that first win." Having opened the scoring, Rory had to watch in dismay as Scunthorpe levelled from the penalty spot. Fortunately, Argyle responded immediately and Fallon played his part in winning the spot-kick that Alan Judge dispatched. "I got a flick," said Fallon. "I was battling it out with Robert Jones and it fell nicely for Judge. He took the keeper on well to get his penalty and he took the pen as well. The whole team did so well today and the fans as well. I was gutted that we let in a sloppy goal again. We've just got build on this now. We have a break and everyone put everything into this today, and the legs are hanging off. We have to keep up that kind of intensity. Jamie Mackie's had to look after their back four by himself, while I'm coming back into the midfield. It is tough running but worth it."
Shane Lowry and James Chester were paired at centre-back for the second time in four days yesterday and helped Argyle to a 2-1 win over Scunthorpe United. Paul Sturrock said: "It has been a lot for the two young boys at the back - to be all of a sudden playing at Newcastle, and then at Peterborough, and again today. Chester looked a bit leggy as the game went on. Lowry was much better in the second-half than he was in the first." Sturrock was hugely impressed with Scunthorpe striker Gary Hooper, but even more so with his young defenders in the windy conditions. "They went to Crystal Palace and won 4-0," he said. "They have a real centre-forward. He looks an absolute class act and I would be surprised if he is still there after the window. He is top-drawer and caused us all sorts of problems in the first-half. He had about five or six shots in the inside right area, and I was disappointed with the way we handled him and the kind of balls played up to him. In the second-half, I don't think Ro really had a save to make. The ball held up in the wind in the first-half, which made it difficult for the centre-backs to clear. It was easy for them to back in and pick up the crumbs. In the second-half, it flew through to them and the wind was a feature in the game."
Argyle beat Scunthorpe United 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Rory Fallon after 56 minutes and Alan Judge (76). Argyle: Larrieu, Gray, Lowry, Chester, Sawyer, Blake, Fletcher, Duguid, Paterson, Mackie, Fallon. Subs - Judge, Clark, Sheridan (not used – Letheren, Wright-Phillips, Gow, Barnes). Attendance - 9,780
Jim Paterson knows that all of Tuesday's effort will be spoiled if it is not followed up by another win in today's game against Scunthorpe United. "We've been waiting for a result all season, and we got a good result at Peterborough, but now we need to build on that," he said. "Last season, our away form was good but our home form was poor. We need to concentrate on that. We need to win our home games in order to stay in this league. It's as simple as that and getting a win on Tuesday at a tough place to go – a lot of teams will struggle there – has definitely given us a confidence boost for Saturday's game. The expectation levels will be there, and quite rightly so. If we want to do anything in this division, then Scunthorpe at home is the sort of game that we should be looking to win." Paterson was recalled to the first team by Paul Sturrock at Peterborough, after a spell out of the starting line-up, and is is very keen to keep his place . "When I came here, everybody knows I was signed as a left-back, but the manager knew me as a midfielder and I've played the majority of my games there," he said. "Needs must. I will get forward. If he keeps the same team and he tells us that he wants us to get further up the field, then we'll do the job that he wants us to do." Paterson has remained fit so far this season, and now just wants to keep playing. "I'd missed the last three games, which was disappointing, but the manager told me it was nothing to do with my form," he added. "He said he was just trying different things to try to get that win. He tried something the other night that worked, so let's hope we can get another win and kick on." When asked what the mood was like on the team coach during the trip home from Peterborough, Paterson replied: "The mood was good. The team spirit is good, and now we've got that win we can start to relax and play our football."
Shane Lowry has spoken of his excitement at his first senior international call-up by Australia. He said: "I'm flying out tomorrow. It's my first call-up for the seniors. I'm just happy to be in the squad, meet all the boys, do a bit of training and see what happens from there. I spoke to the Australian manager a couple of weeks ago. He watched me in a reserve team game for Villa. The week before that, the assistant manager came and watched one of my games. I was told if I was doing well I might get picked in the squad, but it was still a bit of a surprise to get called up." Lowry could play in a friendly against Holland next Saturday or an Asian Cup qualifier against Oman the following Wednesday. He said: "Holland have got some world-class players, but this is the first time I have been called into the squad so anything else that comes my way is a bonus. The second game is against Oman, which is an Asian Cup qualifier. We will see what happens. There are going to be a lot of players in the squad fighting for places, but I have got every chance as well." Lowry is confident the trip to Australia will not have an adverse effect on him when it comes to Argyle's game at Blackpool on October 17th. He said: "Instead of flying back into Heathrow, I'm going to fly to Manchester. I will get there on the Friday morning and then get my head down and have a kip. I have spoken to the manager about it and told him I should be fine. I have just got to concentrate on doing well for Plymouth first and, then hopefully, I might progress to the international stage. If I go out to Australia and just train and meet all the boys, it will still be a big achievement for me to do that. But if I do get some game-time, hopefully I can grab the opportunity with both hands and show the manager what I can do. Anything that comes my way is a bonus, but I just want to concentrate on doing well for Plymouth first. I want to get some more first-team football under my belt and then see what happens in the future."
Argyle take on Scunthorpe United tomorrow and Paul Sturrock is hoping for another morale-boosting victory. He said: "The important thing now is we have a game and we have got to build on that and get ourselves charging up the league. The only way we can do that is by winning football games. That's how confidence is built and the things we have been putting into practice start to come to fruition. I'm very settled in my mind how this squad is gelling together. We now have to get out of the bottom three. The players have got to be appreciative of what hard work did for them against Peterborough. We are going to have to get at Scunthorpe from the first whistle and get the tempo of the game up. "We have got to make sure they are on the back foot all the time. If we do that, I'm confident we will get a result." Sturrock thought Argyle showed a fighting spirit against Peterborough, despite the disappointment of the defeat by Forest only two days earlier. He said: "It would have been very easy for some of the players to just feel sorry for themselves. But they went out there and responded properly from the first whistle and showed a real commitment to win. Some of the younger players were really up for it." Sturrock admitted he faced a dilemma when it came to team selection against Scunthorpe. He said: "I'm a great believer that if you have done the business on the football pitch you merit your inclusion in the team. But football managers are sometimes led by their head and sometimes led by their heart. I have got to decide which one is going to lead me on the day. I have got to look up the notes, weigh them up individually and see what weaknesses they have got. At the end of the day, it still might be that I make a change or two." Sturrock is unlikely to alter the defence, however. He added: "If there is one scenario that I'm very much committed to, it's trying to get a settled back four. For us to get a result against Peterborough and then, all of a sudden, slap them about the face with a change or two would be stupid of anybody I think." Argyle did not pick up any new injuries against Peterborough but Chris Barker, Kari Arnason and Reda Johnson are all still sidelined.
Alan Judge has been reassured by Paul Sturrock that he is still an important member of the squad. "Judgey has been in to see me and he's very frustrated he hasn't started any of the last five games," said Sturrock. "I'm very appreciative of Judgey. He has done a great job for us, but sometimes you go down the road of horses for courses. We have had some difficult games away from home lately, and I just felt we needed a more solid-looking midfield, whereas Judgey is more attack-minded. I'm certainly not writing him off. There will be plenty of games where he will come back in again – and sooner rather than later." Sturrock has also explained the absence of Chris Clark from the squad for the win at Peterborough United. He said: "Clarky hadn't done anything wrong. He didn't get on the bench for the simple reason I had enough on the pitch to perm a midfield from." Steve MacLean and David McNamee were not included in the squad for the trip either. Asked about MacLean and McNamee, Sturrock said: "I would say there are several players available for loans and transfers. Nothing has changed as far as that's concerned."
George Donnelly has returned to Home Park after completing a one-month loan spell at Luton Town, where he made only three substitute appearances. Paul Sturrock said: "I'm a wee bit disappointed because I was hoping George would get a lot of games. But Luton played a 4-3-3 formation and it meant George had to play wide right or wide left, which, looking at him, is the last place you would put him. I think the system was changed just as George was brought in and he finished up sitting on the bench and playing bit parts. I would like to put him out again. I think it's appropriate we get him a club where he can get a solid one or two months where he's playing regular football."
Shane Lowry has admitted spirits have soared at Home Park after Argyle secured their first win of the season. He said: "Obviously, the players have been really disappointed with the results so far this season. I think getting the win on Tuesday has given the club, the manager and the fans a big boost. All the players are buzzing at the minute. We set out our team with two solid banks of four and I thought the two strikers, Rory and Jamie, were excellent. They worked their socks off and defended from the front. And I thought we were quite solid in the back four. We dealt with everything they threw at us. We rode our luck a couple of times, which you need as well, but I think we did enough to win the game, to be honest." Lowry formed part of an inexperienced defence for Argyle against Peterborough. "I think we are starting to gel together now," he said. "We have been working on it in training and we all seem to talk along the back four. We are good communicators, which is always important. At the end of the day, I don't think age really matters. If you gel together it can work and I have been quite happy with it." Lowry has been impressed with the way James Chester has coped with his introduction to first team football. He said: "It's always hard coming off the bench and getting to the pace of the game, but I thought James did very well against Nottingham Forest. He was outstanding again on Tuesday, so he seems to be really settling in. I think me and him are forming a decent partnership at the minute. Obviously, he got himself thrown in at the deep end last Sunday but, like I said, I thought he handled himself very well." Argyle will be aiming to follow up their victory over Peterborough with a win against Scunthorpe United tomorrow. "That's the plan," Lowry said. "We want to go out against Scunthorpe and give the fans something to shout about. Obviously, we were bitterly disappointed with the result against Nottingham Forest but, hopefully, we can do the same as we did on Tuesday. We won't lack for effort or fight or spirit." Lowry added: "Scoring the first goal in any game is important because it relieves some of the pressure on the whole team. I think we have got the players to go out there and get those goals. Hopefully, we can go out and just get that first goal. Personally, my aim is for us to keep a clean sheet because we haven't had one yet since I have been here. We will see what happens."
Rory Fallon has been named in New Zealand's squad for the first leg of the World Cup play-off against Bahrain tomorrow week and Krisztian Timar is in Hungary's squad for World Cup qualifiers in Portugal and Denmark next week. Cillian Sheridan and Alan Judge are in the Republic of Ireland squad for European under-21 Championship qualifiers against Georgia and Switzerland and Darcy Blake will be with Wales under-21's for a qualifier against Bosnia.
Rory Fallon believes a back to basics approach paid off for Argyle in the win at Peterborough United on Tuesday. Paul Sturrock reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2 formation for the game and Fallon said: "It definitely worked. That's the way we play. We are a team that gets behind the ball, and we are strong and resilient. That's what we need to be. We shouldn't have leaked that goal, or else it would have been a perfect night. Two-nil would have been brilliant. We need to keep it tight and the best thing is to defend from the front, and that's what we did on Tuesday." Five minutes of stoppage time were added on by the referee before Argyle could celebrate the victory. Fallon said: "It was just relief really when the final whistle went. It was great to get the first win and great to be part of it. It's a team game and everyone deserved that, including the fans. They were awesome on the night, and they have been awesome the whole season. I just want to thank them for getting behind us. We wanted to be solid and we were determined not to come off the pitch having lost. No matter what, we were coming off with a draw, and then getting the goals was a bonus." Fallon praised the determination and perseverance that Jamie Mackie has shown this season, despite his lack of goals. He said: "The thing is, you can't let it get to you, and he hasn't. I'm so thankful he scored that goal on Tuesday because we needed that platform, and once we got it we got a second." Fallon flicked a clearance from Romain Larrieu into the path of Mackie, who outpaced the defender before shooting low past 'keeper Joe Lewis. Fallon said: "Some of my flicks were going to the side, but I felt I got that one perfectly. It put Jamie in one-on-one and he slotted it away beautifully." Fallon doubled Argyle's lead six minutes later, heading home a deep cross from Gary Sawyer. He said: "I was really happy with it. I had another one in the first half and it went just over. You can't get down when you miss those chances. You have got to keep working, and that's we all did." Fallon had not started a match since the defeat at Derby on August 22nd. He added: "I just couldn't wait to play on Tuesday night. When you are sitting on the bench, you want to be out there. Having a few games out probably did me a world of good. I just wanted to give 100 per cent for the team. I thought we did so well, and we have got to keep playing like that."
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