A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have launched a vote to decide next season's new away kit. TFG have designed three possible kits which can be seen on Argyle's official site. The poll is open to all Argyle members, and you will need to supply your membership number when you vote. You can vote by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or send your preference to: Getting Shirty, Communications Department, PAFC, Home Park, Plymouth PL2 3DQ. Forms will also be available at Home Park. Closing date for entries is January 19th
Paul Sturrock has denied any interest from Southampton in goalkeeper Luke McCormick. After describing the story as "pure speculation", Sturrock said: "At this moment in time, selling Luke would be a slight problem. I think that answers all questions."
Paul Wotton's return to the first-team could be delayed as he is still struggling to shake off the back injury he picked up at Bournemouth. Marino Keith is also struggling and Steve Adams has not yet recovered from the flu
Luke McCormick is being linked with Southampton, Gordon Strachan allegedly lining up a £150,000 bid for the young goalkeeper
Paul Stapleton admitted he had been 'surprised and delighted' by the crowd at Home Park on Sunday. He said: "We were really pleased to see so many people come along. From where I was sitting in the Mayflower Stand, it was great to see the ground so full. In fact, until I heard the official attendance, it looked to me as if it was a full house. We knew, through our ticket sales, that the gate was going to be big. We thought it would be around 15,000 but, it is fair to say, we were surprised and delighted when we learned just how big the crowd was. Football gates all around the country go up over Christmas and we all know Argyle traditionally do well at the time of year. But, to almost double the gate of the previous home game is simply amazing. Paul was also excited by the big gate, almost the first thing he said after the game was, 'did you see the crowd?'. And the weather held off for us which was a bonus. I was a little concerned at Bournemouth, because the rain was horrific and I was afraid it could result in the game being postponed. But, thankfully, it didn't and I just hope everyone who came along, particularly those fans who don't come that often, enjoyed themselves. Funnily enough, we thought the atmosphere was a little muted. It livened up a bit, obviously with the goals, and also when Brentford had a player sent off. I think, sometimes, when people who aren't regulars come to a match, they aren't that familiar with the songs and stuff. But I'm sure as they get used to coming along, it will make the atmosphere more dynamic." He continued: "The higher the gates, the more money there will be available. Although, we aren't getting carried away as expenditure and overheads have also increased this year. But the prize on offer is a chance to play in Division One and I'm sure the crowd we had against Brentford would be a regular occurrence in that league. There are so many quality teams in that division that would prove attractive and also bring with them a greater number of away fans. However, there are 22 games left to play, we're only at the halfway mark. The club's plan for this season was to finish higher than last. We finished eighth last year so to be in top place is a real bonus, but there is a long way to go yet."
Tony Capaldi was pleased to have made the most of his return to the Argyle team. "I didn't have a very good game against Notts County, first half especially, so the gaffer took me out for Bournemouth," he said. "But he showed faith in me and put me back in today and, hopefully, I have repaid him. It was really enjoyable to play in front of such a big crowd. It's another win, we are top of the league and things are all going well, but we know there is a lot of work to be done. It's good to get on the scoresheet at anytime but it's even better when it's in front of your own fans. I think the supporters who just come to the home games probably don't realise I have scored any goals! Midfielders maybe target double figures for goals in a season so I'm on course at the moment." Capaldi admitted spirits could not be higher in the Argyle dressing room, but insisted the players would not become complacent: "The lads will not get above themselves, we know there is still a long, long way to go. We will probably go through a dry patch before the end of the season so it's important we pick up these points now. Teams are going to come to us and make it really difficult for us. Brentford did that today and I think Chesterfield will be exactly the same on Saturday. They got a good win today so it's certainly not going to be an easy game. If we think that we might come unstuck. It's about hard work and, hopefully, we will get another good result."
Paul Sturrock was typically reticent following todays game. "Another three points and we're safe from relegation. I thought it was very nothingish in the first half. We didn't play to the tempo we should have played to. I think we just got lulled into thinking it was going to happen. I don't know whether it was two games in three days or everybody's ideas that this was a so-called 'easy game'. We've proved in the past that it can be very deadly if you allowed yourself to be sucked in. We had a wee chat at half-time, got the goals, and, to be fair, after that went on, but I was a wee bit disappointed with the general leadership qualities of some of the experienced players, and the enthusiasm we missed in the first half." With David Norris and Paul Wotton suspended, and Marino Keith and Steve Adams missing due to injury and illness respectively Sturrock made three changes to his team. He said: "Buster was really needing the game. It's a long time since he's played to the pace of a game like that. I felt he wasn't trying to penetrate enough, he was passing back a lot – which isn't like Buster. In the second half, he was more like himself again and got an edge to his game. I was pleased with his contribution in the second half, but not the first. There was an edge to Tony's game due to him being dropped. He reacted positively and he was very influential in the game. Mickey was needing a game as well. He's sat and waited his chance quite a long time now. He came off the bench and did very well in the two goals he scored out here a week ago and he will be disappointed he didn't get a game against Bournemouth , but he's responded. I thought he ran the line very well. He's always a threat in the air. To any team that comes, he's a presence and he gives you options. He's influenced the game again."
Argyle beat Brentford 2-0 at Home Park, the goals coming from Tony Capaldi in the 48th minute and Nathan Lowndes (63). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Phillips, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Lowndes, Evans. Subs - Stonebridge, Sturrock (not used - Martin, Kangulungu, Worrell). Attendance - 17,882. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Luke McCormick admitted his confidence was currently sky-high. "The last three or four games have gone quite well for me so I'm growing in confidence," he said. "I'm just really enjoying it, being out there. Everything seems to be going right, but I'm not sure how long it will last. You just have to go out and tell yourself you aren't going to be beaten and you are going to keep clean sheets. I think if you are positive about it then it seems to work for you." McCormick is not taking anything for granted, with 23 games still to play. "It's nowhere near finished yet," he said. "We will keep digging in and, hopefully, things will go right for us."
Paul Sturrock was not totally happy with yesterday's performance. He said: "I'm very, very disappointed with the second-half. You have got to give them credit for their get-up-and-go in the second half but our players were well warned about what they were about to receive. We took the wind and, if we hadn't got the goals, I think it would have been a very different game. It was difficult in the second half but we made it much harder than it should have been. We defended ten yards too high up the pitch, we didn't channel ball, our strikers got no good use to them at all. It just meant we were always on the back foot and making too many individual errors, giving silly free-kicks away in the wrong areas. I'd have liked us to have been more thoughtful. Luke's had two or three great saves, one or two headers skimmed the post, one's hit the bar. Luke's done well under difficult circumstances. The last three games have seen wind and rain, difficult games to play, but you've just got to adapt to the conditions." Of the goals, Sturrock said: "Wottsy said it was about two yards out and then there was a gust of wind that took it two yards inside the post. But he's there, he's picked up a crumb and he's done the right thing. Chuck had a great finish for the second. It's hit the bar, sometimes they bounce out the way and the goalie picks it up, sometimes they bounce in, it's just the luck at the time. I'm pleased to take the result. It's a difficult place to come. I can see a lot of teams coming here and struggling this season if they show the spirit they showed in the second half. Hopefully, in the future against teams in our area, some of the chances they've had will go in." Argyle went 4 points clear as QPR failed to beat Notts County, and Sturrock said: "Billy Dearden actually said he fancied it. He said they always do well against QPR. It's very pleasing. We've nicked a couple of points and, with our goal difference, means we can handle a defeat, maybe. To be fair, it's what we do now. We've got two home games we've got to capitalise on." Sturrock will have to replace both Wotton and Norris tomorrow against Brentford but they will not be the only changes. "I've already told one he's playing," he said, "and I'll be telling another two on the bus. Everybody knows I am going to freshen the team up big time. I've got fresh legs in there and now it's an opportunity to win some of their places back, to stop me from bringing back a couple of players."
After today's win, Paul Sturrock said: "It's been a good few days, I'm obviously pleased with the deal but winning games like this makes me just as happy. We are hard to beat and this was a good all-round display. Records are nice but are not the most important thing. I'd rather be where we are in May. Paul and David took their goals well but will be missing for us on Sunday because of suspensions. It's a difficult weekend with two games in three days and it will be a very different side on Sunday."
Argyle win 2-0 at Bournemouth and increase their gap at the top of the table to 4 points. Paul Wotton scored Argyle's 5000th league goal after 23 minutes and David Norris scored after 40 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Wotton, Hodges, Keith, Lowndes. Subs - Evans, Sturrock, Adams (not used - Stonebridge, Capaldi). Attendance - 8,901.
Argyle officials are urging supporters not to leave it until the last minute to turn up for Sunday's match at Home Park. Tickets for the game against Brentford are selling very well and a crowd in excess of the season's high 13,923 is anticipated. The ticket office will open again on Saturday December 27th, between 9am and 2pm
Paul Sturrock expects the Boxing Day trip to Bournemouth to be a tough game: "Bournemouth are a very good home team," said Sturrock. "They've a very good style. I watched them last year and I've seen them a couple of times this year. They're a handful for anybody. If you go there half-cocked, they can cause you a lot of concern. I expect it to be a very difficult game." Sturrock has big decisions to make regarding team selection. "We're going to have to put freshness into both Friday and Sundays games," he said. "There will be more than just two changes over the two games. The two suspensions will cause us concern on Sunday, but hopefully, Wotton and Norris will put everything into Friday. On Sunday, we'll have a completely different shape because of the suspensions, our squad will be tested to the full over the weekend. First and foremost, though, we've got a decision to be made on selection for Friday's game. We've got to think about horses for courses and about Bournemouths style of play. I need to have a look at things over the next two or three days and make my decision after that. Some people looked a bit heavy-legged and out of sorts on Saturday, and I've got to see them over the week."
Paul Sturrock will now not make a decision on Abdallah Bah signing for Argyle until the first week of January. Bah, who is the Guinean national team's keeper, has trained with Argyle for the past two days. Sturrock said: "I have got to talk to the chairman and Bah's representative. Nothing has been decided. If there is anything to be sorted it will now be after January 3. I don't want anybody to be away from their family at Christmas unless they really have to."
Paul Stapleton has revealed that he and his directors will be having talks with the council next month. "That will be to discuss the feasibility of Phase II," said Stapleton. "Further details will follow, but we are having a joint meeting in January. We'll see what happens, but there's every sign we're pushing against an open door." Paul Sturrock predicted a healthy future after Phase II. "I'd be delighted to be involved with this football club when this whole stadium is built up," he said, "and the finances that it will generate that might benefit the club. I do feel that, if we can put this stadium together, we will be one of the benefiting football clubs - in trying times as far as finances are concerned in football, we will benefit ten-fold and obviously progress in the league because of that." Stapleton also revealed that his fellow directors were compiling a revision of Argyle's five-year plan, as many of the original goals had been achieved two and a half years early. "Peter Jones and Phill Gill are currently working on a relaunch of a new five-year plan," said Stapleton. "Paul Sturrock would use the word 'scary' – it's one of his favourite words. It has been a bit scary, but it's nice to be top of the league. We know we have got to work hard to stay there and reach our ambition of going to the next division."
Paul Sturrock believes that the number of clubs that could tempt him away from Home Park is dwindling by the day. "There's very few, actually, who could really turn my head at this time," he said. "That particular club-well is shrinking by the minute, as far as I'm concerned." Sturrock and Paul Stapleton decided a new deal would be the best way to show other clubs of the managers intention to stay with Argyle. "We found the right man and we want to keep hold of him," said Stapleton. "We want to send a message out to other football clubs that Paul is with us for the long term. It's a sign to everybody that he is committed here and it would take a great deal to prise him away from this club. We decided we'd like to give our fans a Christmas present and to show them that Paul is very much in tune with the board and the team at Argyle. Everybody who works here is part of the team, not just the players, Paul's an integral part of things. When we employed him back in 2000, we knew he was a man who would stay, he stayed at previous jobs, and he was someone who would lay down what he wanted to do and would see it through." Sturrock said, "I'm very pleased. I do feel that there has been too much media hype about certain jobs. It's very frustrating being asked and asked. This has sorted all that out. Every time there was a sacking, we were having to fend off questions. Fans should now be more settled and appreciative. Obviously, they had apprehensions at the time and, hopefully, all that has been cleared away. It would be easy to saunter along with this but I did feel it needed a statement. We're trying to squash these rumours and show our fans that there is a solidity at this club." Sturrock admitted that the fact that his job was far from complete was a bigger driving force than simply increasing his wages. He said: "Yes, financially, everyone wants to do well for themselves, but the challenge is an important thing for me, as well. That's not to say I'm not an ambitious man, but I'd like to think I can take Argyle as far as they can go. Everybody appreciates the job is not even a quarter done. There's things at this club that need to be done. There's a huge area in the youth development at this club that I haven't put to rights yet."
Paul Sturrock has agreed and signed a new, improved, contract which will see him stay at the club until the end of the 2007-08 season. The Argyle board have shown how highly they value Sturrock by tearing up his current contract, which still had three years to run, and offering him better terms. Sturrock said: "I'm very pleased. I think it's good for everyone. There's still a lot of work to be done at Home Park and I'm looking forward to the many challenges that lie ahead." The new deal was announced by Paul Stapleton who said: "I think this is an agreement where everybody wins: Argyle, Paul, our Green Army, everybody. It's a great Christmas present and the perfect way to be going into the new year."
Abdallah Bah is the goalkeeper currently on trial at Home Park. Bah is African-born but holds a French passport. "He's just in for two days and has been recommended by an agent," said Paul Sturrock. "I have told him I will give him a decision after watching him in training today. He was somewhere else on trial and he has just come down here, so we are having a look at him." As Bah is out of contract, he can be signed outside the international transfer window, which reopens at the start of January. Sturrock continued: "It wouldn't be a problem if we wanted to take him. Because he's out of contract it's an ideal one for us. It's a lot easier than having a player on loan. With games coming thick and fast, I didn't want to leave myself totally unsecured. With offices closed, it would be very difficult to do the kind of contract work that would need to be done to bring in a player on loan. I was recommended this goalie by a reasonable source, and this trial gives me an opportunity to have a look at him. He arrived here on Friday but we did very little in training then and, obviously, he watched the game on Saturday. If we don't take him, it gives him a couple of days to get home for Christmas."
Romain Larrieu has started out on the road to fitness, although no date is being suggested as to when he could return to action. "As long as it takes is as long as it will be," said Paul Sturrock. "The medical team are pleased with his progress but there is no timescale on this. It will be towards the end of the season, but we always knew that anyway. It has been four months now, and it's normal for it to be six to seven months for this kind of injury." The only other injury in the Argyle camp is Jason Bent, who has a knee injury. Sturrock said: "His scan showed no problems in the knee so he's on rehab now." Matt Villis is still suffering from the after-effects of mumps and has not returned to training
Argyle are holding a noon press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, to announce a 'major new signing'
A goalkeeper is currently on trial at Home Park and could be signed as cover on a short-term contract. The keeper is French and is not currently under contract with another club and so could be signed without any complications. A decision may be made on Tuesday
Hasney Aljofree has revealed he was considering his Argyle future before his recent recall to the first team. He said: "I'm delighted for Nath and myself because we waited a long, long time. To be honest, a lot of the time I didn't really see any light at the end of the tunnel and I didn't know anything about my future. I was very close to possibly doing other things because I need to be playing. Luckily, I have stuck at it and the gaffer has shown a bit of faith and given me a chance. We have had four wins and three clean sheets so, hopefully, I will carry on. It was hard to get into the team because Cocko and Wottsie are excellent players and have both done really well for the club. Wottsie has reached 300 games for Argyle, which is brilliant for him, and, obviously, Cocko is a good player as well. The competition for places is good for the club but, personally, it has been hard for me. I don't like sitting on the bench and I want to stay in the team now. I know what I can do and, hopefully, I can kick on from here." Aljofree believes the strength in depth of Argyle's squad has been one of the main reasons behind their success so far this season. He said: "If you have a bad game you are out of the team because the quality is there to come in, so everyone is on their toes and everyone wants to do well."
Paul Sturrock praised the performance of his substitutes from Saturdays win: He said: "The substitutions benefited the game, they gave us a wee bit of zest and turned the game. I'm delighted for Mickey to get a couple of goals. We just needed to freshen things up and make sure we had good legs on the pitch, I knew Blair would run channels and he did that for us. He put them on the back foot. I knew Mickey would win his share in the air so that was a concoction we felt might benefit us and, obviously, with David coming into the midfield we got more possession." Evans scored twice in three minutes to secure the win. "To be fair to Mickey he has been appreciative of the situation that he has found himself in," said Sturrock. "But, again, I thought Nathan and Dan were two of our brighter lights today. So it makes it a difficult scenario for me to decide on for Friday." Sturrock also paid tribute to Luke McCormick for keeping Argyle level, he said: "They are certain goals if they aren't handled properly, and he has gone away and done his business." Hasney Aljofree also praised McCormick for his performance. "It was really tough," he said. "They came at us from the first minute and were a good team, but we have come out with the victory, which means a lot to us. To be fair, they could have had a couple of goals in the first half very easily. There were a couple of silly mistakes from a few of us, but that's football. They were a decent team and the two strikers are quality players and if they get half a chance they are going to get in but, luckily for us, Luke did really well. Luke has grown in confidence every week and I'm really chuffed for him. Even though he's a young lad, he deserves what he's getting at the moment."
Paul Sturrock thought Argyle were lucky to win so comfortably yesterday. He said: "If I was Notts County's manager tonight, I'd be a wee bit disappointed by the scoreline. I didn't feel we deserved or merited to win by 3-0, it was definitely not a 3-0 game. Our first-half performance, defensively, was very poor, Luke kept us in the game. They were certain goals if he didn't handle the situation properly. We were very fortunate to be going in at half-time up, it could have been 2-2 I think. Second half – better," Sturrock continued. "We got ourselves in the right areas and had a couple of chances we should have done better with. Obviously the substitution benefited the game, it gave us a wee bit of zest and turned the game, although I thought Nathan and Dan were two of our brighter lights. I knew Blair would run channels, and he did that, that put them on the back foot, and I knew Mickey would cause them problems in the air. I had threatened once or twice about competition for places, but never really committed to it. Now I've got a response from the players that have come in and today we got a response from the players that came on." Sturrock was concerned that some of the players approached the game in the wrong frame of mind. "I'm a wee bit worried by our younger players' whole thought process about these kind of games," he said. "Some of them looked today as though they just had to turn up. I thought Tony and Gilly's start to the game was very poor and it caused us concerns. You cannot give the opposition opportunities like we gave them today. We will get punished on other days."
Argyle return to the top of the table with a 3-0 win over Notts County at Home Park. Nathan Lowndes in the 28th minute and Mickey Evans (79 and 82) score the goals. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Capaldi, Lowndes, Keith. Subs - Friio, Sturrock, Evans, (not used - Stonebridge, Adams). Attendance - 9,923. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Paul Connolly still has a lot to prove, according to Paul Sturrock. "I thought Paul had a very solid game last Saturday, but now is the test for him," said Sturrock. "He hasn't had to do too much rampaging up and down in the two games at Colchester and Swindon. He has got a hurdle to jump in the home games we have got coming up over the Christmas and New Year period. In the friendly against Torquay he didn't have a good game. There were certain things I was disappointed with. It's up to him to show me, at home, that he can achieve the things I think he can."
Jason Bent could soon return to training from a knee injury. "We have had it scanned and there are no tears or anything," said Paul Sturrock. "But we don't know whether he's going to be fit for any of the games over Christmas and New Year."
Argyle have denied that Glasgow Rangers have made any inquiries to sign Scott Laird. Director of youth Stuart Gibson said: "We don't know where this has come from. We have heard nothing. I have spoken to Craig and he told me Scott only wants to play for Argyle and get a scholarship with us."
Glasgow Rangers are thought to be watching Argyle's highly-rated teenage defender Scott Laird. The 15-year-old has caught the eye with a string of impressive displays for Scotland's Under-16s
Paul Stapleton is hoping the upcoming home games will boost the club's finances through the takings at the turnstiles. "The Christmas message is 'come along and support us' because there is everything to play for now," he said. "Everyone I have talked to in Plymouth, even the non-football people, are really impressed with what's going on at Home Park. It's four weeks tomorrow since we last played a league match at home. I'm hoping all our fans have bought their Christmas presents and have saved up their pennies to come along and support us. It's important we get the support because if we can stay in the top two over Christmas then it's a downhill slope after that with the second half of the season. Historically, Christmas fixtures have been well supported at Plymouth and we are hoping that will be the same this year." Stapleton continued: "It would be nice to push on from recent results, like we did before when we won the third division. When you get on a long unbeaten run it doesn't half make a difference. Paul Sturrock will say we are 12 points from safety. My answer to him is 'let's get those points as soon as possible and then push on from there.' I will be happier if we are in the same position in March, five points clear of third place. Then I might say there is a distinct possibility of going up but what do you say when you are only halfway?" Argyle are the top scorers in the League with 45 goals in their 21 games. "Someone wrote to me this week and said 'why don't you buy a 20-goal-a year striker'," said Stapleton. "But if you look at Marino, he has got nine and we haven't got halfway yet. David has also got nine and Mickey has got eight. If they carry on like that they will be around the 20-mark. We are scoring from all areas. I'm pleased Norris got his third goal of the season last Saturday because he deserves it, and Capaldi is on a roll as well."
Paul Sturrock believes Saturday's game against Notts County is the biggest test of the season so far. He said: "It's probably the most difficult game of the season. Our workrate and attitude hasn't always been the best when we have been in this sort of scenario before. I'm worried about how we approach the game and how our fans approach the game. We have come unstuck so many times when we have got ourselves in the right position in the league. It's very much a key game for us, to put three points on the board at the start of the festive period. Notts County have put an edge to their game since they came out of administration recently so it's going to be difficult for us." Sturrock played down the significance of the next four games. "I think March is the big month," he said. "The important thing is that we are there or thereabouts then. And the only way you can do that is to keep winning games. Nobody expected us to take nine points out of our last 12. Everybody now thinks we should get 12 points out of 12 over the Christmas period. When there's an edge to us we are a very dangerous team, but when we are favourites we have a problem. That's the worrying aspect for me."
Geoff Crudgington has been impressed with Luke McCormick since he took over from the injured Romain Larrieu. "To be fair to the lad, he has done far better than maybe even he expected," said Crudgington. "It's a big thing for him. He had only played three or four games before the injury to Romain. There has also been all the talk about bringing somebody in and, initially, that was to take his place. There is a lot of nonsense talked about pressure, but that is pressure on you. You feel that every half a mistake is highlighted, in your own mind if not in anybody else's. So for him to come through and perform at the sort of standard that he has, I think he has done really well. You tend to forget how young he is. He's only just 20. His composure has been extremely good and, touch wood, his handling has been impeccable, It's been very pleasing. Luke has been here since he was 15 and he has always had the potential to become a very good goalkeeper. An old manager of mine always used to say 'potential means nothing until it is realised' and that's true. That's the way you tend to look at young players, whether they be goalkeepers or whatever. It's about making progress."
Paul Sturrock's verdict on the reserves display last night: "Very poor - it has made my job easy, I will not be having too many sleepless nights. I can slumber contentedly," suggests there will be few changes to the first team for Saturdays game against Notts County. David Friio came off injured after only 42 minutes last night. Sturrock said: "David tweaked his hamstring and we took him off as a precaution."
Lars Hirschfeld will not be moving to Home Park on loan. Hirschfeld was not keen to merely be back-up to Luke McCormick whom Paul Sturrock had already confirmed would continue as first choice. Sturrock said: "We've had a discussion with Tottenham and come to a mutual understanding that Hirschfeld would be more on standby for us. So with Luke playing very well at this minute, it seemed to make more sense to do it this way, rather than him coming down and sitting on the bench and not being used. He's better off in his own environment, to be called upon if needed. Tottenham and David Pleat have been very good about it, in appreciating my situation. It still leaves us very vulnerable over the Christmas and New Year, but that's football. I couldn't but be honest with the player at this moment in time, in that he would not be coming to be a first-team regular. Tottenham felt it would be more beneficial if Hirschfeld remained and trained with them, rather than be down with us as an understudy. And also there's a couple of clubs who have said to me that if there's a real problem, they would lend us somebody."
Argyle reserves lose 3-1 at home to Bristol Rovers, Blair Sturrock scoring the goal. The latest reserve tables are here. Argyle: Schofield, Worrell, Adams, Sawyer, McGlinchey, Phillips, Friio, Kangulungu, Stonebridge, Evans, Sturrock. Subs - Yetton, Martin, O'Sullivan (not used - Dickson, Chapman)
A young Argyle side lost 1-0 last night to Ilfracombe Town in the Devon Bowl. Wayne O'Sullivan was sent off in the second half after two yellow cards
Paul Sturrock will not be loaning out any of his squad in the near future. He said: "Let's say we were just playing Saturdays, I would let one or two out, for the simple reason we have no reserve games. But the first team games are coming thick and fast. Wotton and Norris are already out of the one against Brentford because they are going to be suspended, and that's not counting any injuries we might have. I can't really let anybody out on loan at this minute in time."
Paul Sturrock held talks with David Pleat yesterday afternoon and Lars Hirschfeld could play in this evenings reserve fixture if his loan move from Tottenham Hotpsur is finalised today. The team will also include all five substitutes from the win at Swindon on Saturday - David Friio, Steve Adams, Mickey Evans, Ian Stonebridge and Blair Sturrock. Should Hirschfeld make a loan move he would, initially at least, be second choice to Luke McCormick. Paul Sturrock said: "I thought Luke played better at Sheffield Wednesday than he did on Saturday but it was one of his best games. The important save was from Igoe because it was the one time in the whole game when he got away from Wotton. It was an important time in the game. We had just scored and if they had equalised, then it would have put a different complexion on it."
David Norris wants to build on the goal he scored at Swindon. He said "I was happy to score because it's been a few games. I wasn't too fussed because I think I have been playing well but I should have a few more goals. I was really happy to score on Saturday, as you could probably see in my celebration. Hopefully, I will get on a little run and at least finish the season with a good number again, like last season." Norris praised his team-mates for the part they played in the goal. "It was a great move all-round," he said. "Trigger put Tony in and when he cut inside I didn't think he had seen me, but it was great vision. Tony played it across, Marino took their player away with a great run and once I took it inside I just had to smash it in." Norris collected his fifth booking of the season for time-wasting by kicking the ball away close to the touchline and was very disappointed with the decision of Brian Curson. "I thought the referee reacted to their bench because they were going mad that I had kicked the ball away," he said. "It couldn't have been more than a foot out, if that. I think the referee wouldn't have done anything if it hadn't been for that. If it was for a tackle, fair enough, but I felt a bit hard done by."
Brian McGlinchey today returned to Home Park after his loan spell at Torquay United and is set to play for Argyle's reserves tomorrow evening. Brian played 14 times for the Gulls. "Brian appreciates the situation," said Paul Sturrock. "He will have to be competitive to get back into this team. He's come back at a difficult time but I'm sure he'll be professional enough to approach it properly. We'll hopefully see a very determined Brian to get himself up the pecking order. With Hodgy kind of moving position, it means there's maybe one less for Brian to compete with for that left-back position."
Marino Keith thinks it is still too soon to talk about promotion for Argyle. He said: "The game must have been so exciting to watch because it was so exciting to play in. I thought after they scored the second one we would do well to hang on for a point because they had their tails right up and they probably fancied themselves to get another one, but all credit to the boys. Never say never, you know. It's far too early to be saying five points is a good lead, but we will take that no problem. We have just got to keep it going. It's good to be going into Christmas five points clear of third place but if we come out of that with the same lead then we can start to take things seriously." Keith has scored in each of Argyle's last three games. He said: "It has been going well and I'm happy with the position I'm in, put it like that. Going into this spell of games, I'm almost at the target I look for. The hard part is to maintain the standards I have already set. It's not only myself, it's right through the team. There were some big players on the bench that would normally walk into the team. It says a lot about how everybody in the team is playing at the moment. That's going to be a good thing as well. It shows how much strength we have got in the squad. If you look back over the first 21 games, everybody has played their part. It has been a squad game so far. I'm sure it's going to continue to unfold the same way in the rest of the season." Keith was buried under a pile of bodies as his team-mates raced to congratulate him after his winning goal. "I think that says a lot about the feeling within the boys," said Paul Sturrock. "We realise just how big a three points that is. To go away to Colchester and get three points and to come up here and get three more after being under the cosh says endless amounts about the squad. It shows we have got a great belief. Hopefully, that's going to be a good thing. I think we have already shown with that belief we are capable of beating anybody."
Paul Sturrock refused to get carried away after Argyle's win at Swindon. He said: "We not halfway yet. We've just got to try and go on winning games. If we can come out of Christmas and the new year with good pointage, we can look forward with confidence to the new year." Sturrock stood by the side that won at Colchester two weeks ago. "There's no point in making comments to players and then going back on my word," he said. "The boys who went in the team merited their selection. We've stuck by them and they've gone and done it again. We're delighted. My decision to leave out Friio will have raised a few eyebrows. But I said after the last match that I'd keep faith in the players who did well against Colchester and I stuck with that. It's no good going back on your word in those situations and I think my decision was rewarded. David will be desperate to get back in for the next match but it's difficult to drop players when they are doing well for you. Swindon is a difficult place to come. I think a lot of teams are going to come here and come unstuck. Their second goal was a sucker blow. The ball ricocheted around and Parkin toe-poked it in. That normally would have floored a team but we came back again and did really well. They've probably relaxed a bit, thinking they've got themselves back in a drawing position – I would probably have thought that as well if I was a player, but the boys have gone back up the park and nipped it. That's football." Sturrock paid tribute to Marino Keith: "That's Dan," he said, "You let him face the goal and he'll mainly hit the target. There's always a goal in him. I was contemplating taking him off and putting Blair on to run a channel or two but he did well."
Paul Wotton and David Norris were booked against Swindon and both will be suspended for the game against Brentford at Home Park on December 28th. Paul Sturrock said: "Norris was very silly. He could see the ball was out. What happens is that their rashness will take them out of the team and will give other people the opportunity to come in, and maybe they won't get back in. David Friio and Mickey Evans went out of the team with suspensions and haven't got back in yet."
Argyle win 3-2 at Swindon Town with goals from Tony Capaldi (13th min), David Norris (76) and Marino Keith in added time. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Aljofree, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Hodges, Wotton, Capaldi, Keith, Lowndes. Subs - Evans (not used - Sturrock, Stonebridge, Friio, Adams). Attendance - 9,374.
Brian McGlinchey looks likely to return to Argyle after his loan with Torquay United runs out today. Both clubs had thought that extending McGlinchey's loan to the end of the season might have been an option but Paul Sturrock has revealed that long-term loans are allowed only for players of 23 or younger, and McGlinchey is 26. Torquay would have to sign the defender on a permanent deal if they want to keep him any longer. Argyle have been paying a sizeable proportion of McGlinchey's wages during his time at Plainmoor, and signing the player on a full contract is almost certainly beyond Torquay at the moment. Gulls chairman Mike Bateson has hinted about McGlinchey's longer-term future: "The chapter may not be entirely closed, and we could see some movement in that direction in the early New Year."
Argyle will send a young side to play Ilfracombe Town in the Devon Bowl on Monday because they also have a reserve game the following night. The Bowl fixture will be played at Barnstaple, because Ilfracombe do not have floodlights
Paul Sturrock has praised the versatility of Ian Stonebridge. "Stoney just needs a goal," said Sturrock. "He's needing an edge to his game. He's always getting in positions, but there is not a goal at the end of it. I think it's playing on his mind at the minute. But he has shown the versatility to play wide right, wide left, centre forward, and probably just off the front as well. The great run we had in October was when Stoney was playing wide left and doing very well." Stonebridge lost his place before the 2-0 win against Hartlepool United three weeks ago. "We just needed a freshness, and that was what took Stoney out of the side," said Sturrock. "He competes for wide left and he competes for centre-forward. That's the way I look at it. If we had a problem I would have no qualms in putting him back to wide left. In fact, if we have a lack of form on that side he would go wide left again. I think Stoney quite likes that position. He seems to have a freshness to his game when he plays there."
Paul Sturrock is considering whether to change the team that was unbeaten in the last two league matches, "We didn't win last Saturday, so I'm not changing a winning team – I'm changing a losing team," said Sturrock. "Fourteen days is a long time in football. The opposition and horses-for-course is a relevant point, as well. Everything's weighed up – we've just got to decide whether changing the team would disharmonise the squad a wee bit. Hasney Aljofree has waited for his chance for a long time now and has played two games where we've had clean sheets – that's got to be a contributory factor. Peter Gilbert has had a successful season. If they come to me tomorrow and say they haven't felt right overnight, it obviously makes it easier but they have passed a fitness test and say they are raring to go, so it gives me a problem selection-wise – an interesting problem to have. There's times I've picked this team with my head, when it should have been my heart, and times when I've picked it with my heart, when I should have picked it with my head – at 4.50pm tomorrow, I'll tell you how I got it wrong."
Argyle are set to sign Lars Hirschfeld on a one-month loan next week. Paul Sturrock will not make a decision until after the game against Swindon Town but all the indications are that a deal will be agreed on Monday or Tuesday. "I've talked to Lars today," said Sturrock yesterday, "any decision will be made after the game on Saturday. I feel that bringing him in before Saturday would be inappropriate. He doesn't know the players. I'm going to leave it over the weekend to make decisions, and obviously I've got to talk to Tottenham. Lars has enjoyed his time here this week, and he says he'd be quite happy to come. Now the coaches and I have to sit down and discuss it. I've got to talk to Geoff Crudgington about the sessions he's done with Lars. That will all happen next week. He seems a competent goalkeeper. There are a few things in his game I'd like to tamper with, but he was very competent in the reserve game and his training has been very good as well. And, last season, he did well for Luton against us." Hirschfeld will be warned not to expect to take over from McCormick - at least at the beginning of his loan. "It's not just a walk-in," said Sturrock. "That has been one of the serious problems of bringing a goalkeeper in. McCormick is doing a good job and I don't feel it's appropriate to bring in another boy out of the wilderness to go in front of him. Anyone coming in is going to have to compete to be the first-team goalie. Luke has just come off two clean sheets so the last thing you are going to do is change that."
Paul Sturrock has an almost fully-fit squad to choose from for Saturday's game at Swindon. He said: "Hasney Aljofree and Peter Gilbert are just building up fitness with the physios, so, fingers-crossed the two can come into training today. They will be in the reckoning for Saturday, if they come in on Thursday. It'll be a big game Saturday, a very hard game. They are starting to get their act together again, and Swindon has never been a happy hunting ground for Argyle. It's one of those difficult ones. After this one, we've got three at home and one away, so it's an ideal opportunity to put points on the board. But you never know, do you? We had been worrying about playing Hartlepool and Colchester after losing to QPR, then we go and win them both 2-0, but that's football. How we mentally attune for this game, get up for it, means that the deliberation this week is: do we change a winning team? It's going to be even harder if everybody deems themselves fit for Saturday. I've still got to make a decision over whether Aljofree and Gilbert have done enough to get themselves back in again. But it could be that it's only Jason that's not available. So it's a big headache to take 17 boys away on Friday night. There will some very, very experienced players who will be left at home."
Paul Sturrock is upbeat about the improvement in his son, Blair, who at first had wrongly been diagnosed, and later operated on, for a hernia problem. "If Blair gets himself fit, then he will definitely force the issue on the strikers," said Sturrock senior. "The last two or three games he's played in, he's been really exciting. The one thing he does is, he keeps the ball. In the second-half against Torquay last Saturday he changed the game. They've got to the bottom of his problem now, but after testing they've found his right side is very weak, the problem has been that he's not equally balanced on his right side. So Blair is doing his specialised training, he's had to do a week of strengthening on his right side, which he has done now, so he's just working away and sooner or later he's going to have to come into training as well. Now he's got to the bottom of this, there's been a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. He's up for it, ready to go. Mentally, he's relaxed a bit more. He's seen four specialists, had an operation, one person thought it was a hernia – the whole gamut. It's been a difficult ten months for him. He has acquitted himself very well every time he's come off the bench; his reserve performances have been very, very good. He's never really had a poor reserve game. His influence coming off the bench has been second to none. He's the one who always seems to come on and do something that changes the game or puts life back into the team. He's quite valuable that way, although I think he would hope not to be tagged a 'supersub'. One thing he does is keep the ball; another is that he runs down channels for us, which we don't really have. He's just developed this style – his contribution on Saturday was different class. He and David Norris changed the game. Once he comes back into training and keeps that kind of standard, he'll put a real presence on the other quartet." Although Sturrock junior has not been involved with his team-mates in training he has certainly been putting in plenty of effort to get fit. "People forget that he swims laps and laps every day; he cycles miles and miles everyday; he does his exercises religiously four, five, six times a day," said the manager. "People think 'he's not been training, but he's sitting on the bench', that sort of thing but the laddie is actually doing all this every day – sometimes he's not back until 6pm. He's doing a power of work trying to get himself back into condition."
Lars Hirschfeld's trial at Home Park will last for the rest of the week, and Paul Sturrock will then make a decision on a loan deal with Spurs. After the reserve game last night Sturrock said: "I thought did Lars did OK. He seemed confident enough and had no chance with the goal. He made a good save down to his left and threw the ball out quite well, and he talked very well, also. We've got all week with him, so we'll have a look at him in training. But he can't play in the first team unless we sign him on loan. And we'll decide that at the end of the week."
Paul Sturrock was much happier with the reserve's this week. He said: "I'm much happier with this performance, I think they showed a better appetite towards the game. Sometimes it's difficult for first team players when they come back in (to reserve football), as it's often an anti-climax, when passes go astray early on. But the players showed a really good attitude and there was a lot of really good performances out there. David Friio looked a lot more like himself, than he had done in his last couple of games - he thought he needed that. And I thought Blair had a really good performance again. But I thought everybody put a case up."
There are fears of a mumps epidemic at Home Park after Matt Villis was sent home suffering from the illness. "Matt has gone home with mumps," said Paul Sturrock, "and we're really panicking because we've now found out there's several of our first-team squad who have not had them before. We're contemplating injections for the players. He has been out with the first-team squad on their Christmas night out and sat in Edinburgh airport with them. Our worry is that, all of a sudden, we have an epidemic of this which we could not be doing with. We got him away home as quickly as we could."
Argyle reserves beat Swansea City 3-1 at Home Park, the goals coming from Eugene Kangulungu, Stewart Yetton and Blair Sturrock. Argyle: Hirschfeld, O'Sullivan, Adams, Sawyer, Worrell, Phillips, Friio, Kangulungu, Stonebridge, Sturrock, Yetton. Subs - Martin, Dickson (not used - Schofield, Coxon, Bulley)
Brian McGlinchey could have his loan spell with Torquay United extended until the end of the season. It is believed Leroy Rosenior wants to keep McGlinchey but cannot afford to sign him on a permanent transfer. Argyle have continued to pay a large part of McGlinchey's wages while he has been at Plainmoor. Should Argyle manager Paul Sturrock agree to let McGlinchey stay at Torquay on a long-term loan for the rest of the season no call-back would be permitted. Paul Stapleton revealed: "We have been helping Torquay quite substantially with his wages. It has got Brian playing league football and we would have had to pay his wages if he had been here anyway. This way, we haven't paid all his wages and we are happy to help out one of our neighbours. We did same with Kevin Wills before he moved there. From what we have heard of his performances at Torquay, and what we saw on Saturday, Brian has done very well for them. We haven't heard anything officially about extending his loan or any possible move. Failing any news, we will welcome Brian back because he's very popular with everybody at the club."
Jason Bent limped out of training on Tuesday morning, although Hasney Aljofree and Peter Gilbert are making progress. Paul Sturrock said: "Jason had a fitness test this morning but came out with a different injury than he went in with. He's got a tweaked knee and had to walk out of training. We don't know how long that's going to be. Hasney and Peter Gilbert are building up fitness with the physio – so, fingers crossed, they may be in the reckoning for Saturday."
Canadian international goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld is on trial at Argyle and will play for the reserves against Swansea tonight. Paul Sturrock may move to sign him on loan: "We'll have a wee look at him," said Sturrock, "and if we like what we see, we'll be able to take him on loan. He's a young goalkeeper and has only really played for Calgary Storm before so I need to look at him in training. What he does over the next few days and in the reserve match will paint the picture for us." Lee Hodges has been the emergency back-up Luke McCormick and nearly got an unexpected run-out in-between the posts against Torquay. Sturrock said: "The worrying aspect of Christmas and the New Year is that games come thick and fast – you could get caught out pretty badly. You also find that players don't want to move out on loan over the period. I was very tempted to take Luke off on Saturday and give Hodgy the last 15 minutes. To be fair, I thought Hodgy needed more time in midfield, but my full intentions had been to take Luke off."
Paul Sturrock was delighted with Argyle's second-half performance against Torquay. "It was a useful exercise. The first half was disappointing, but we looked much more like ourselves in the second half. When David Norris and Blair came on it was like a different game and, as I said, we did the right thing second half without putting it in the net. Blair's hit the bar, flashed one past the post. I was excited with the way we played second half, it was more like us. To be fair, the boys have got the Christmas do this weekend and I think it was really important we got a game this Saturday because I would not have liked to go to training on Tuesday with a couple of days off like they are going to have. They deserve the night out from what they have achieved so far but hopefully this will be a wee reminder of what football can do to you. Hopefully their tails are between their legs tonight after a wee chat with me after the game, but they will get back in the groove starting next Tuesday. It was important we gave Stevie half an hour and he will play a full game on Tuesday. I don't know what I will do with Friio but I'll leave that to David to determine what he thinks is best for him, but I think Bent will be fit for Tuesday's reserve game." Sturrock praised Brian McGlinchey, whose three-month loan spell at Torquay is about to come to an end, "Brian's three months on loan is up after next Saturday's game so I think Leroy and I and Brian are going to have a chat about things and see where the land lies but we don't discuss anything about now. I don't think it's appropriate talking about it now. He played very well. Brian's a very good player."
Paul Sturrock has praised the progress being made by several of Argyle's young players. Stewart Yetton has hit the headlines by scoring successive hat-tricks, one for the reserves and one for the under-19s, in the past fortnight but Sturrock has also been impressed by Matt Villis, Gary Sawyer, Wayne O'Sullivan and Marcus Martin as well. Sturrock said: "Yetton has vastly improved the parts of his game I was critical of last season. He has worked very hard at it. He's a much better linkage striker than he was last year. There's obviously still some roughness in his game but he has the knack of being in the right place at the right time and scores goals. He enjoys scoring goals, which I think is an important part of any striker. He has definitely jumped a few development hurdles which mean that he's pushing in the right direction. What he has to do now is play so well that he starts training with the first team on a regular basis. We still need to put a yard on him pace-wise and we are going to get to the bottom of that." Villis has captained Argyle's reserve team this season while Martin, O'Sullivan and Sawyer have all been regulars in the side. "Had we been in the third division I think a lot of them would have been far closer to the first team," said Sturrock. "I honestly believe that a lot of my youngsters could play third division football quite comfortably. Several of them have blossomed in the reserves, I have been very pleased with Sawyer, O'Sullivan, Martin, Villis and Yetton and the boy Dickson, who's 16, has played very well in a couple of games. They are getting much valued practice and it will benefit them and Argyle in the long run."
Plymouth City Council are in talks with the Argyle board over the completion of phase two - a new grandstand - at the local authority-owned stadium. Councillor Peter Smith said "It is the council's plan to tackle the whole Central Park issue as a total package. That means we want to see Argyle's phase two rebuilding finished and also have a new sporting complex at the same time. Our plan is to build a 10-lane swimming pool, separate diving area, toddler's pool and have a fantastic new sports complex as well for Plymothians to enjoy and be proud of. There is no doubt that it will be fantastic and we are all really excited about it going ahead." Argyle chairman Paul Stapleton said that while he had not held talks with the council recently, he was greatly encouraged by the news. "We're keen to work with the council and are pleased that they are looking to do something," said Stapleton. "And while we're fully behind having a facility that can be used by the public, the interests of Plymouth Argyle are paramount to us. But the news is keen, positive and, hopefully, it can lead to a positive conclusion."
Argyle lose 1-0 to Torquay United in the friendly at Home Park in front of a crowd of 3,347. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Villis, Coughlan, Hodges, Phillips, Wotton, Friio, Capaldi, Evans, Lowndes. Subs - Sturrock, Worrell, Adams, Kangulungu, Stonebridge, Norris
All of Argyle's youth games for this weekend have been cancelled. The current tables and results for the under 17's and under 19's can be seen here
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that the goalkeeper he wanted on trial for the Torquay friendly will now not be available. He also revealed the latest news on a number of injury concerns. He said: "I was hoping to bring in a keeper to look at but that has fallen through, the team he is with have had a keeper problem and he isn't available yet. David Friio, Martin Phillips and Matt Villis are all set to start. It will be a first team, there are doubts over some players but most are all clear. Steve Adams has deemed himself fit, Jason Bent is recovering but Peter Gilbert is out with a thigh strain. Hasney Aljofree is not too bad and could be considered and Blair could feature. We have got to the bottom of Blair's problem now. He has had a muscle problem in the core area of the groin and lower abdomen. He now has a daily exercise plan to work on his muscles to build them up as it affects his whole balance. Blair can play, although he isn't currently training, apart from concentrating on his problem."
Matt Villis will be in the starting line-up for the friendly against Torquay tomorrow. Sturrock said: "Matt is getting better and better with every game. He has done enough to get a wee run-out and I think it will show us how far he has come along the road with the work we have done on him. Sloop has been nipping my head all week to give him a start. Obviously, it will be a big test for him because Torquay are a good team but it's the kind of challenge he needs." Sturrock added: "He's starting to think about his game now and he's passing it better than he was. He's looking a yard sharper than he was. There are still big areas in his game that are going to have to be worked on but I'm relatively pleased with his general performances." Martin Phillips will also definitely start against Torquay and there could be a first senior appearance for Eugene Kangulungu. Hasney Aljofree will not play due to a knee ligament injury but could be fit for the game at Swindon Town. Steve Adams (foot), Jason Bent (knee) and Peter Gilbert (calf) were having fitness tests today whilst Paul Connolly returned to training yesterday after a hamstring strain and suffered no reaction
Paul Sturrock was today trying to get clearance to play an un-named goalkeeper on trial against Torquay. He said: "We were in contact with a club yesterday trying to get one of their goalkeepers to come in and play tomorrow. But there are certain rules and regulations we have to go through first and we're not certain whether we can achieve that or not. If that doesn't happen we will think about it again." He added: "I would rather have a peek at someone first. Taking a goalkeeper on loan on somebody else's say so isn't the way I like to do it. It's vitally important we do have a wee look first to make sure we get the right kind of goalkeeper to suit the style of the club."
Paul Connolly has thanked David Worrell for his support since taking over his right-back role. "He's a great bloke," said Connolly. "On the Thursday afternoon he told me about one or two of their players from when he played against them earlier in the season. He was telling me bits and pieces, so he was helping me out. I think I can learn a lot from Dave." Connolly was not surprised because it typified the team spirit amongst the squad. He added: "The lads are buzzing. There is a great team spirit and a great camaraderie in the dressing room. Hopefully, we can have a successful season - you never know. The confidence is absolutely sky-high at the moment. I can't emphasise how high it is." Connolly had played only twice in the league this season before he was recalled for the game against Hartlepool. "All the lads have been saying 'be patient' and I have worked hard to get back in so, hopefully, I can try and stay in now for as long as possible," he said. "Obviously, if I had come in and we had been beaten 4-0 it wouldn't have been too nice but we have had two clean sheets, which is good. It's all good experience for me. You can play so much reserve football but the pace of the game in the first team is frightening. It's so fast compared to the reserve football and I would say that's the biggest difference. I'm still getting used to that and, hopefully, towards the end of games I will be bombing on like I can do."
Argyle's directors are set to take a more active role in the running of the club following the decision to make John McNulty redundant. It is understood that the decision to part company with McNulty was taken partly for financial reasons and partly because the board believes the position of chief executive has become less essential following the acquisition of other employees, and the increased level of hands-on involvement in the running of the club by some directors. Paul Stapleton said: "The board of directors would like to thank John for the work he has done as chief executive, and for the role he played in phase one of the redevelopment of Home Park. From a personal point of view, when we both served as directors under Dan McCauley, I felt that John didn't get the praise he deserved for his role in phase one, but as project manager his input was massive." Last night McNulty said: "I genuinely hope the club gets promotion this season. I am, however, very disappointed that I can no longer be part of the process. My passion for the club, its staff and sponsors leaves me with some very fond memories."
Argyle today announced that they are parting company with Chief Executive John McNulty on Friday 5 December. Paul Stapleton, announced that the position has been made redundant and the club have no immediate plans to recruit a successor. Stapleton said: "The board wish to thank John for all his efforts at over the past 15 months and wish him every success for the future." McNulty admitted he was saddened by the decision. "I'm deeply shocked and saddened with the board's decision," he said. "The club has been my life for the past two decades. I came into the club as a professional to do a professional job, for example the phase one development and the relocation and re-modelling of the Argyle Village and preparations for phase two. I feel the club has been transformed into a much healthier business and I'm proud of my contribution in achieving these aims." McNulty admitted it will be difficult for him to watch his favourite team now. He said: "At the moment my heart has been ripped out, and that applies to my wife also."
Hasney Aljofree is suffering from strained medial knee ligaments after a training ground accident. The extent of the damage is not yet known but he definitely miss the friendly against Torquay United. Paul Sturrock said "Somebody fell on his knee in training and we think he has tweaked his medial ligament. We don't know how long he will be out. It could be days or weeks, we will just have to wait and see. It's a bit unfortunate for Hasney because he got himself back in the team with his performances in the reserves, but that's football." Sturrock also confirmed that Jason Bent would not play on Saturday due to the knee injury he suffered playing for Canada two weeks ago. Steve Adams is "touch and go" for the visit of the Gulls and Paul Connolly has a tight hamstring and will not be risked if it does not improve between now and Saturday
Argyle reserves beat Bristol Rovers 3-1 at Home Park in the Combination Cup. David Friio with two goals and Blair Sturrock with one. Argyle: Schofield, Worrell, Villis, Sawyer, O'Sullivan, Phillips, Kangulungu, Friio, Stonebridge, Evans, Sturrock. Subs – Yetton, Coxon, Martin (not used - Chapman, Parrish). Paul Sturrock said of David Friio: "David scored a couple of goals and he just played himself back into the game again. To be fair, that's all we could really ask of him tonight. I think he will still need a wee run about on Saturday, just to blow the cobwebs out. Hopefully, that will have got him back in the groove."Overall Sturrock was not impressed with what he saw from an experiened reserve team. "The reserves have been a tonic over the last month but that was a very disappointing performance," he said. "We were very disjointed. I felt a couple of them didn't play with the proper attitude, as far as putting themselves about and working hard. That was the poorest the reserves have played for a long time. We seemed to pass it back and sideways rather than forward." Sturrock thought the outstanding player had been his son. "I thought Blair was outstanding in the first half," he said. "He was very lively and took the ball and linked us up. When he went off that all deteriorated and it was a poor second half."
David Friio will begin his comeback after suspension in the reserves tonight. Paul Sturrock said: "It's important that David gets two games under his belt, and I might even be tempted to play him in the reserve game next week. We'll wait and see how he looks over the two games, tonight and at the weekend. It's been near enough a month without him playing a game, so it's very important that he gets back in the groove." Sturrock admitted Steve Adams and Jason Bent might not be ready to play against Torquay because of foot and knee problems, respectively. "I will not take a chance on them if they don't deem themselves fit, but it would be nice to think they could get a bit part on Saturday and then back into full training next week," he said. "I would imagine both of them should be available for the game at Swindon." Paul Connolly sat out training on Monday with a tight hamstring, but it was not thought to be too serious
Paul Sturrock has drawn up a shortlist of goalkeepers he would be interested in signing on loan. "I will be on the phone all day," he said. "I will go down my usual list and see if any of them are available. In an ideal world we would have somebody in before Saturday, so they could play against Torquay, but we are not going to rush. We have got a shortlist and we will work away at that and see what happens." Romain Larrieu has been carrying out some light jogging but Sturrock insisted he still had no idea when he would be ready to return. "It's just a steady build up now," he said. "He has been doing a lot of weight training. There's no date planned for him. When he's ready he's ready. They can't really tell us where he is at this minute in time. Maxie has had a couple of these type of things before so he knows exactly the routine."
Paul Wotton made his 300th appearance for the club on Saturday. Wotton said he was 'proud' to have reached such a milestone for his hometown club and delighted to be playing after being dropped the previous week. He said "Hodgie did really well last week against Hartlepool and I have played in midfield before so it wasn't alien to me. I enjoyed it. It was good to get a win and a nice way to celebrate 300 games for Plymouth, which I'm proud of achieving at a young age. Hopefully, there will be 300 more." Wotton gave an insight into his emotions at being left out of the starting line-up for the win against Hartlepool. "Disappointed is the wrong word," he said. "It was heartbreaking. I was angry and upset, which as a professional footballer you should be, but the gaffer made his decision and it worked. The lads won 2-0. It's just a case of being patient, I will play centre midfield but I want to play centre-back. I think it's important as club captain to set the right example to everybody else and there's no point sulking or moaning. At the end of the day, there's only one man who's going to put you back in the team and you have got to impress the gaffer. Whether you think it's right or wrong to be dropped, he's the only man who's going to put you back in. I asked to play in the reserves because I needed a game. I enjoyed that and today went well. Without a shadow of doubt, this is the best squad I have been involved in at Plymouth. If you look at the bench today, it was very strong, and you have got David Friio still to come back and you have got Dave Worrell not even sub. That's a strong squad. I don't think I could have done much more and you can only make the gaffer's job hard. I'm proud to play for my hometown club, proud to captain them and to play 300 games is, for me, a big achievement."
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