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 drew 1-1 at Wolverhampton Wanderers, the goal scored by Elliott Ward after 22 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Lasley, Derbyshire (not used - McCormick, Aljofree, Buzsaky). Attendance - 22,790. The usual excellent coverage can be found on
On Screen Tony Pulis has no new injury worries to contend with, although Akos Buzsaky's ongoing groin problem means that he will almost certainly be on the bench again today. Buzsaky should make his first start since November against Leeds United on Monday, when David Norris will be suspended. "Akos is the one that we've got to go carefully with," Pulis said. "The ones who have had flu - Djordjic, Brevett and Gudjonsson - need a bit of time to recover."
Anthony Barness and his team-mates were given a night off they could have done without in midweek - so today are desperate to make the most of the year's final game. He said: "We were very disappointed when we couldn't play on Wednesday. We were confident and we wanted to get the game in, rather than have a backlog. We were on a good run, we'd had two wins and a draw against decent opposition, and we wanted to carry it on. Preston had a couple of injuries and they had to travel a long way, so we were hoping that we were going to be a lot fresher and in a better frame of mind for the game. But it got called off, so we've got to deal with that." Barness is hoping that Argyle can now reproduce the form which earned them two wins and a draw in their last three fixtures. "Wolves are a strong team and they have a lot of good players there," he said, "but we've been getting stronger and getting better. We're going to go into every game with confidence, regardless of who it's against. We'll be going there feeling confident we can do a job, be solid at the back and nick a couple of goals. Wolves played midweek, so they've got another game in their legs. If there's a bit of fatigue on their part, then hopefully we can capitalise on that." Every week in the Championship, Argyle find themselves playing against international players - and it will be no different today. "We have to deal with it," Barness said, "but we've played most of the teams in the league this season and in the last couple of months I think we've done well whoever we've been up against. Hopefully that will continue against Wolves." Barness has played a significant part in Argyle's improved defense lately, operating at both right-back and left-back in recent games. "I've been quite pleased with my form," he said. "I'm glad to be part of a team that is doing well. If you can do that, then you're doing your job." Barness is as adept with his right foot as he is with his left. "That has come from years of switching between both sides," he added. "As a kid I always practised with both feet, and it has paid off."
Argyle have been linked with Southampton striker Ricardo Fuller by national newspaper reports
Mickey Evans still has a lot to offer Argyle according to Tony Pulis, who said: "Players are playing a lot longer now because of the knowledge we have on diet and fitness. So there is no reason why Mickey can't go on, if he keeps himself fit. Sheringham is 40 and is playing in the Premiership. He's giving Mickey seven years, and Mickey is playing in a league lower. There is no reason why players cannot go on now, as long as they are prepared to look after themselves and sacrifice certain other aspects of their life to remain fit and active. Since I have come to the football club, Mickey has been fantastic in the dressing room. Everything we have brought in, he has really embraced it. They say you can't teach old dogs new tricks but Mickey has been very good - and we have needed him. Chadwick has been the one who has scored the goals but Mickey has taken a lot of weight up front in a lot of games by himself." Cardiff boss Dave Jones was the latest in a long line of managers this season to praise the contribution of Evans and Pulis added: "He's a pain in the arse to mark. He doesn't stop. He's a handful and has been important to what we have been trying to do, without a question of doubt. Steve Coppell said Mickey was a handful. So did Dave Jones and Iain Dowie said the same. If he can add a couple of goals to his goal, then we are all singing and dancing." Evans last goal was in the home win over Burnley on September 17th. Pulis said: "I'm hoping he gets off the mark soon and then he goes on a run like Chadders has done. It's confidence as much as anything else I think."
Argyle are expecting a near capacity crowd for their Sky-televised clash with Leeds United at Home Park on Monday. Tony Pulis said: "I think we are very close to a full house here on Monday so it will be a fantastic atmosphere and the television cameras are here as well. We are really looking forward to it. I just hope we get through today's game without any injuries and then on Monday we can roar around Home Park for an hour-and-a-half and get the result that everyone at Argyle wants."
Argyle have rejected criticism from Preston North End following the postponement of Wednesday night's game. Preston manager Billy Davies said he was 'disgusted' with the lateness of the postponement and chairman Derek Shaw yesterday threatened to ask Argyle to foot part of the £10,000 bill for their chartered jet. Shaw said: "We are very disappointed we had to go all that way for the game to be called off, but more disappointing than that was that we weren't kept informed all the way along the line. No-one said anything." However, Michael Dunford refuted Shaw's accusation. He said: "Our club secretary, Carole Rowntree, rang her counterpart at Preston, Janet Parr, at approximately 12.30pm to explain that there were icy patches on the pitch. We thought, at the time, the pitch would be playable, but, in view of the distances involved for Preston's travelling support, we advised that their fans rang us at regular intervals. I don't accept that the club did not contact Preston - we did. I would have assumed that their club secretary would have kept their party informed of developments. We were as surprised and as disappointed as anybody when the referee decided ultimately to call the game off. The Preston team arrived in Plymouth at around 1.30pm; at 2pm, the fourth official, Simon Hollick, visited Home Park and spoke to the groundsman, and then 'phoned the match referee Iain Williamson to tell him there was, in his opinion, no problems with the pitch. At 4pm, Iain Williamson passed the pitch fit himself, and we were free to tell people that the game was going ahead; at 5.20pm, he was concerned that the temperature had dropped dramatically and, if that continued, the pitch could be a potential hazard for the players. By coincidence, an official from Preston was at the ground at the time that the referee made his final decision and he contacted the Preston party at the team hotel. Had he not been there, we would, of course, have contacted Preston ourselves. In that hour and twenty minutes, the weather conditions beat us. We tried hot-air blowers on the pitch; we tried covering certain areas; but we were beaten by Mother Nature. It is unfortunate - we have had this happen to us in the past, and we sympathise with Preston - but we were in the hands of the weather and, ultimately, the referee. I don't consider Plymouth Argyle could have done anything more positive, either for Preston or for their supporters, than we did."
Tony Pulis is hoping the postponed game against Preston on Wednesday will not disrupt the momentum the team have generated over recent weeks. Pulis is still seething over the postponement and believes Argyle only had themselves to blame for the game falling victim to the icy weather. He said: "We are talking about having a lot of momentum going for us at the moment and possibly losing that. I'm not blaming the referee or anybody else. I'm just saying we weren't set up in the right manner, whichever way you cook it, to cope with a freezing night. Now, unfortunately in England it gets cold. That's part of our country. We do get frost so we have got to sit down and deal with this. This is another part of the learning process I'm going through at the football club. I can't believe that, at a Championship club, there is not any mechanism in place to prevent a game being called off because of a hard frost. There were a lot of clubs in League One and League Two who had their matches postponed but not one in the Championship. We have got to look at ourselves. We can't keep blaming everybody else and saying 'was the referee right or was the referee wrong?' We can't affect that. What we can affect is how this football club is run and we have got to look at it. Everybody says to me it's the first game we have had called off because the pitch was frozen for 10 years. Well, that's not an excuse. If we can affect it, let's affect it. I was gutted the other night, and so were the players. We all wanted to play. Everybody was up for it. I have got Jarrett and Ward on loan and I had got the strongest squad possible. We had a great result at Watford, we beat Crystal Palace and then we won at Cardiff and you want to keep the momentum going. We shouldn't be shooting ourselves in the foot. Forget about blaming anybody else. What can we do at this football club to make sure that doesn't happen again? When you look at it, every other Championship game was played on Wednesday and we are in the warmest part of the country. That makes my mind think 'well, what has gone wrong? Can we affect it? It's no good now crying over spilt milk. It has happened. Let's make sure it doesn't happen again. This country has bad weather, whether you are in Bournemouth, Plymouth, Brighton or wherever. There should be some mechanism in place that protects the football pitch. I think the weather has cost us twice in situations where we have been set up to win games."
The Argyle squad were training in the West Midlands this afternoon after leaving Plymouth early today. They were using the facilities of a nearby Premiership club to prepare for the clash with Wolves. Tony Pulis would not reveal where the team were training but admitted he thought it would be beneficial. He said: "I have always done it. Even when I was at Gillingham I would ring people up. We would leave early and then train up there. I think the players enjoy it. I would rather leave early, just after the rush hour, and get all the traffic out of the way. Then you get through Birmingham before the afternoon rush. Then you can train around about 12ish, one o'clock, and have a little bite to eat afterwards. The players can bed down then in the afternoon so they get their rest. I think it's the best preparation."
Tony Pulis is not daunted by the prospect of Argyle's away game against Wolves tomorrow. He said: "It will be difficult for us at Wolves. We have had reports they are the best footballing team in the league by a country mile, but we are doing okay. We are not bad at the moment. We have got a good run of form together. Here's another game that's away from home and they got a great result on Wednesday so it will be a full house I should imagine. Molineux is a great place to go. It's a fantastic stadium and a proper football club. They have got some outstanding players and it will be a good test for us and we will look forward to it. I'm convinced we will give them a game tomorrow."
Tony Pulis has admitted Lee Hodges is unlikely to make a first team comeback against either Wolves or Leeds. Pulis said: "The disappointing thing with Hodgie is we haven't been able to get him a game. If we could have got him a game or two, I think Lee would have been close because he hasn't half trained well. I have been very pleased with him in training. He has really looked the part, but whether he's ready to go into battle yet, I don't know."
Argyle are set to investigate whether to buy a permanent cover to protect the pitch at Home Park following the postponement of the match against Preston last night. Michael Dunford said: "When you talk about undersoil heating, you are into huge amounts of money there. It's hundreds of thousands of pounds and I don't think there is any justification for that, but maybe the board have to look at investing in some form of pitch protection. I don't know how much that would cost. Various figures have been banded around on the back of today's events. We will have to get it costed out and discuss it internally, but it has cost us money that we can ill afford to lose. More importantly, it has halted the momentum of the team, which was just starting to take off. We are on a good run - and I know Preston are on a good run as well - but I think everybody fancied our chances today. That could have seen us rise up the league table even more and the momentum continues. Now we are faced with an away game at Wolves and then another hard game against Leeds next Monday. It's a huge inconvenience and I can only apologise to supporters, both our own and those 250 travelling down from Preston. Just imagine how they feel. If we had had some form of pitch protection, it would have meant we could have played today. If this is only the second game in 10 years to be called off because of these conditions, you can understand given the recent financial position of the club, why that investment hasn't been made. But it has cost us today so we will have to seriously look at that. It might be another 10 years before we have to use it again but you have got it there as an insurance policy." Dunford felt that the referee might have made his mind up earlier than he did. "At 4pm," he added, "the referee gave it the thumbs up. At 5.30pm he came back and said that the weather had deteriorated. He said it would have been a danger to the players. He's the sole arbiter of that. I don't wish to criticise the referee, and nor am I going to, but, when you look at the pitch, then I don't consider it to be any harder than it would be pre-season. The referee had to make a decision, but I'm disappointed that he left it so late."
Colin Wheatcroft admitted last nights postponed game against Preston would have been played had it been a 3pm kick-off. He said: "It was definitely playable at three o'clock. The referee was quite confident at four o'clock, so that tells you we would have played the game." The Argyle groundsman borrowed industrial blowers from Plymouth City Airport to thaw out the pitch, only for the temperature to fall suddenly in late afternoon.He said: "I have had about 15 guys in and my back has gone and we are all absolutely gutted. We tried our hardest to get this game on and, to be quite honest, the referee was brilliant. He came in with an open attitude. When he arrived he said 'this is better than I thought it was going to be.' But, all of a sudden, it started to freeze again.A lot of managers in the old days would have wanted to play on it, but it is very hard. It is frozen." Wheatcroft had put plastic sheets on certain parts of the pitch overnight, to try to protect it from the worst of the icy weather. He was not sure that even had the playing surface been completely covered the game would have gone ahead. He said: "You would have had to leave it on until they ran out because once you take it off it starts to go. It's a tricky one to say whether you could have had it on or not. We have plastic sheets here and they just froze to the ground. We basically had to get the heat under to get them off. A local referee came in at about 1pm, and he said it was playable. Where we had the sheets down, it was fine. It was a bit frozen where we didn't have any covers down, so we got some hot-air blowers in and for the last three hours we were thawing out the middle. Over by the Lyndhurst Stand, the sun did the job for us, but in the shade under the Grandstand it started to freeze. The referee walked around the part of the pitch that had been fine, and it was freezing again. He couldn't push a key into it. He said: 'Colin, we can't play this game'. We could hardly pull the sheets off the pitch, they were freezing to the ground."
Referee Iain Williamson insisted he had no option but to postpone Argyle's game against Preston last night. He said: "I got a phone call from Argyle this morning and they said the groundsman had concerns about certain parts of the pitch. I gave Simon, my fourth official, a ring and he kindly came down and did a pitch inspection and, at that stage, it was fine. I got here at half-past three and I did exactly the same as Simon did. I looked around and it was hard in places but playable. It was playable all the way up until about five o'clock, when I came in for a cup of coffee. I went out again after that and the weather had just turned. You couldn't even get a key into the pitch and I had to think of the players' safety. It was only going to get worse two hours from there so, at that stage, I called it a day at half-past. The two kit men from Preston were already at the ground and I spoke to Billy Davies on the phone. He was very happy with my decision, considering players' safety. I actually went out on the pitch with Tony Pulis and tried to put the key into it, just to prove to him it wasn't playable." Williamson had sympathy for Colin Wheatcroft and his ground staff, who toiled to try to ensure the game got the go-ahead. He said: "To be fair to those guys, they have been fantastic. They have been working on the pitch non-stop. They went to the local airport to get the heaters and things like that but the weather beat them in the end I'm afraid."
Tonight's game against Preston North End has been called off. The pitch was passed as playable early in the afternoon but after a rapid drop in temperature the conditions were deemed unsafe. Tony Pulis was upset to be denied the chance to build on back-to-back victories and said: "We're bitterly disappointed. We were desperate to play and have been prevented from doing so. We've also lost money, and it's something that we, as a club, have got to look at. We are a Championship side, not a lower league club, and we need to give Colin every chance to prepare a pitch that we can play on."
Tony Pulis was today waiting to see whether West Ham would recall Elliott Ward. The Hammers suffered injuries to Danny Gabbidon, Hayden Mullins and Tomas Repka on Boxing Day, but so far the call from Alan Pardew was not forthcoming. Pulis said: "We are keeping our fingers crossed about Elliott, but that's the problem when you have got loan players. They are not your players and, after the first month, they can be called back at any time, so it's a worry." Ward and Jason Jarrett have proved to be excellent additions to the Argyle squad and Pulis added: "I think everybody at the football club would love to sign Jason and Wardy if we could but there are a lot of things that would have to be done to get those two deals in the pot. We are just very pleased they have come along the way they have done." Pulis will stick with the same starting line-up tonight as the one at Cardiff on Boxing Day. He said: "We have got one or two players with knocks, and that will continue to happen through the holiday period, but we know that. The lads are just going to have to get on with it. They are going to have to be strong. We will have to stitch them up, tie them together and send them out again. If I left out anyone out after the game at Cardiff, I think they would have the hump." Akos Buzsaky will continue on the substitutes' bench as he struggles to shake off an abdominal strain. Pulis said: "Akos is still feeling it so while we are winning and playing as well as we did against Cardiff we can give him that rest period he needs. It's a difficult one for me at this present moment, but I have got to say David Norris was absolutely outstanding on Boxing Day. We certainly haven't missed that wide player on the right-side because David has done so well." Not surprisingly, the mood in the Argyle camp was very positive after Monday's success. "It was a good dressing room after the game on Boxing Day," Pulis said. "It was buoyant. The lads have gleaned a little bit of confidence from remaining unbeaten against Watford, Palace and Cardiff. They've done very well. We'd like to have more competition for places, but when you're winning they want to play. When you're losing, you can't get them out on the pitch."
Jason Jarrett has admitted he would like to extend his loan spell with Argyle but will probably not get his wish as Nigel Worthington has already stated he will recall Jarrett when his loan period ends after the game against Leeds United on January 2nd. Jarrett said: "I have heard they are going to call me back but we will have to see. If I could extend the loan a little bit I would look to do that because I don't want to go to Norwich and not play. I would rather stay with Plymouth but I will leave that with the managers to sort out. All I want to do is play football and if Plymouth give me the opportunity that Norwich don't I'm not going to say no. I'm loving it at Argyle. It was frustrating being in and out of the team at Norwich. I have come here and, hopefully, I have helped the team a little bit. We are winning games, which is always good, so I'm really enjoying it. The manager seems happy with me, which is the main thing, and, hopefully, I think the fans have taken to me as well. You can see the way they are with me so, hopefully, I'm doing a good job for Plymouth. The fans are really good here so they have made it easy for me." Argyle's next three games are against teams in the top nine of the Championship but Jarrett is undaunted by the prospect. He said: "Winning is a habit. We have got some home games coming up and we want to win them and climb up the league. We can't wait for tonight, to be honest. We have won the last two and it will be good to play at home in front of our own fans. We are looking to get three points against Preston. We are on a roll now so we need to keep it going. Preston are a decent side but, hopefully, we can make it hard for them. I don't think anybody likes coming to Plymouth. It's a long way for them to come over the Christmas period so if we start off like we can do, hopefully, we will get the three points." Jarrett thought Argyle were good value for their win against Cardiff, and added: "They were flying high in the league and it's never an easy place to go to, as everybody knows, but I thought it was a comfortable victory in the end."
David Norris believes Argyle are starting to fully understand the way Tony Pulis wants them to play. He said: "The gaffer has been here for three months now and things are starting to change for us. We are starting to play how he wants us to play and I think everyone can see that, especially with the last few performances, even when we blew it at Watford. We have got a great team spirit here and the last few results have given us something to build on over the rest of the Christmas period. On paper, it's a tough, tough program for us but we have had a great start with the win against Cardiff." Norris was thrilled with Argyle's Boxing Day win and added: "I'm sure a lot of people thought it would be an easy home win but we did really well and it was a great result for us. The gaffer said to us afterwards it wasn't as if it was a lucky win. We hung on when we had to and we got our two goals. I think it was definitely deserved." Norris scored his second goal of the season at Cardiff and said: "Mickey held it up well and turned. He has put a great weighted pass through to me and it enabled me to run in on goal. It was quite a tight angle but once I was going in on goal I didn't really think about crossing it. I just had a go and I caught it very well."
Mickey Evans did not get on the scoresheet but was hugely influential in Argyle's victory over Cardiff. He said: "I thought there was only one team in it for the whole game. I think we were full value for it. We played very well. Jason Jarrett had a good chance in the first couple of minutes and I think that set the tone for the game. We just carried on from Watford." Argyle took the lead with a penalty from Paul Wotton after Nick Chadwick was fouled by Purse. Evans said: "The ball dropped in their box and the centre-half went to head it. I just stopped him from heading it, it bounced down and I hit it across to Chadders. I thought it was a definite penalty. He grabbed hold of his shirt and, at the end of the day, it was a clear one-on-one so the referee had no choice." David Norris then scored Argyle's second goal in the 81st minute to wrap up the points. Evans said: "To be fair, Chuck made it quite easy for me because he gave me a shout early on. I just held it up and put it him between him and the defender. To be honest, his momentum took him through and it was a good finish in the end. It was a good goal, probably one of the best ones we have scored in the last few weeks. We are really pleased with the result, and it was great to have a clean sheet for the lads at the back as well. All the hard work on the training ground is being picked up now on matchdays." Evans and his team-mates do not have much time to recover before facing Preston North End at Home Park tomorrow. He said: "It's a very busy period. It's a bit silly having four games in eight days. It's alright for the clubs with the big squads, but we are down to the bare bones at times. We haven't got a big squad at all so it's going to be very difficult for the lads. But I'm sure every one of them will put their best foot forward, like they always do." Evans suffered a foot injury in the first half yesterday but that should not stop him playing against Preston. He said: "I took a few knocks today but I should be fine. You get used to it after a while. I'm a little bit sore but I will be alright for Wednesday."
Tony Pulis has appealed for the Green Army to turn up in numbers for Wednesday night's game with Preston North End. He said: "The message from me and from the lads is, if we can get our fans out in droves tomorrow and they get behind us and create the atmosphere they created against Palace, it's almost worth a goal start for us. The support of our fans who travelled up to Cardiff was absolutely fantastic, and it was really nice for us to reward them with a performance and a result. I just hope we can get the crowd up tomorrow. It will be a fantastic game. Preston are unbeaten in 14 matches and have got some great players - they have spent some decent money on their team - and it will be a tough game. We need our supporters for the game. I know everybody will look at the Leeds game and, if they were choosing, they would pick that. I think the Leeds game looks after itself in terms of atmosphere, being on telly - tomorrow is when we need the supporters really behind us against Preston."
David Norris picked up his fifth booking of the season in the win over Cardiff City and will be suspended for the match against Leeds on January 2nd
Tony Pulis is still determined to strengthen the Argyle squad during the January transfer window despite recent improved results. Argyle are unbeaten in their last three matches after the victory at Cardiff. Pulis said: "We are very pleased. Cardiff had a good start to the second half and I was a little bit concerned, but once we scored I thought that was the game. They all worked hard and kept their shape very well. They are committed. They are an honest group of players and the one thing you have got to say about them is that every time they go out, they do work for one another. We have instilled that little bit of spirit, but we still need one or two players. There's no doubt about that and we will be trying to rectify that when the window opens." Pulis thought one of the secrets to the success at Ninian Park was the way they nullified the threat of Jason Koumas, and said: "Koumas can often be the difference and he's the catalyst to their team and the way they play. We have worked very hard in the last couple of days on how we could keep him away from getting the ball, and we did it okay at times. But there were still occasions where, on another day, he might have created a chance that they would have taken or scored himself." If Pulis was the only happy Welshman at Ninian Park, his mother, Jean, was probably one of the few Welsh women to enjoy the result. Pulis said: "Mum's come today so I'll have to get her to come to games more often. Trouble is, she doesn't watch many games outside Wales. To come to Wales and get three points is very special to me." Pulis thought his team might have taken greater advantage of some dominant first-half play. He said: "We're just a little bit shot-shy at times; when we do get in there, we haven't got that clinical finish which will help you score, but you can't fault what they are trying to do. We're pleased with the way things are going at this moment but we know it's a long season and we've got a long way to go yet. Norris took his goal with aplomb though, and I'm very pleased - he's one of the unsung heroes in the team. He works his socks off every game." The victory sets Argyle up nicely for the visit of Preston North End and Pulis added: "We should go into that with plenty of confidence but we know that's going to be a difficult game as well. There's a long way to go until we reach that target of points we need to stay in this league. We are trying to get there as quick as we can."
Argyle won 2-0 at Cardiff City, the goals coming from a Paul Wotton penalty after 71 minutes and David Norris (79). Argyle: Larrieu, Barness, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Norris, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Lasley (not used - McCormick, Taylor, Derbyshire, Buzsaky). Attendance - 16,403.
The Argyle squad were excused any arduous training sessions yesterday, but it is back to work on the training pitches today. Tony Pulis said: "The players trained morning and afternoon on Thursday. They're out all day on Friday, coaching in the community. On Saturday they start training at 11am and again at 1pm. On Sunday, Christmas Day, they're training at 9am and then they're leaving at 6pm to go to Cardiff. They've got the game on Monday, they're training Tuesday at 12 noon and then they're training again at 11am on Wednesday. They'll sleep in the afternoon, and then there's the game against Preston in the evening. On Thursday they're training, but it will be just be a loosener, and on Friday we're travelling to Wolves. We play there next Saturday, we come back and we're training on the Sunday and then on the Monday we've got Leeds here. There's a lot of travelling and a lot of games. They'll have two days off on the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Leeds game, before we go back to Wolves for the FA Cup tie." While Pulis is worried about the impact the holiday schedule will have on his squad, he is a fan of plenty of activity at this time of year. "Footballers are entertainers," he said, "and the demand around holiday periods is for the public to go and watch football matches. It takes us away from our families, but that's our profession. I'm not into this idea of closing down football over Christmas and the New Year. If you do that, the big clubs will only go abroad and earn money playing games."
Tony Capaldi is anxious to start the holiday football season. He said: "We're all looking forward to the game at Cardiff. Our confidence is good. We've got four out of our last six available points, and we've played two of the tougher teams in the league. There is a bit of illness in the camp and I've got a bit of a stiff back, but I'm sure we'll be all right on Monday." Capaldi scored his second goal of the season last weekend and added: "It's always nice to score. It had been a while since my previous goal, against Watford at the start of the season. I could do with a few more between now and the end of the season. I know I missed a good chance at Watford, but there are more goals in me this season." Capaldi knows that conquering the Bluebirds will be no simple matter. "They look like a good side," he said. "They've made some decent signings and they look dangerous." Tony Pulis agreed, and said: "Koumas has been a fantastic signing for them. Every time I've seen them play, he's been the difference. Jerome has been exceptional too." Pulis, who was born and grew up in south Wales, is well aware that Argyle will be venturing into hostile territory on Monday. "I used to watch Cardiff when I was a kid," he said. "They're very passionate people up there, and they don't like the English very much. We'll get a big crowd at Ninian Park on Boxing Day, and it can be a very intimidating place to go to. Home Park was an intimidating place for the Palace players to come to last Saturday, and we've got to expect the same when we go to other places. Our players just have to stand up and be counted. That's all we ask them to do."
Argyle have been hit by sickness problems in the squad as several players have been unwell in recent days. Tony Pulis is concerned that the worrying situation might become worse, rather than better, before the visit to Cardiff City. "David Norris, Hasney Aljofree and Bojan Djordjic have all gone with the flu a little bit," he said. "There are couple of others who are not feeling 100 per cent. We're hoping that it will clear up in the next couple of days, but if we pick up a few injuries as well we're down to the bones. We've got a small squad as it is. We've got three or four who are not very well at the moment. I'm frightened to death of waking up on Boxing Day morning in Cardiff and it's six or seven. Then you are struggling. It's just a case of keeping fingers crossed and hoping we can get through it. David Norris couldn't train yesterday, he was feeling very ill, but he's much better today. If it's a 24-hour bug going round, we're hoping it doesn't arrive on a match day." As well as the outbreak of illness, Pulis also has injuries to deal with. Akos Buzsaky returned to action last Saturday, but is once again a doubt for Monday's match. Akos has still got a problem with his groin," Pulis said. "He hasn't trained the last couple of days. We're hoping he'll be involved in some way at Cardiff, but we'll have to be careful with him." Pulis added: "It's a difficult period. We've played Palace, then we play Cardiff away; then we've got Preston, who finished in the top six last year; then Leeds and Wolverhampton Wanderers twice. It's a very daunting task, but I prefer that to going to Bury, Chesterfield and Rochdale - and that's no disrespect to those clubs. I think we are where we are because we want to be there. We want to be in the Championship, and, if you are going to do that, you have got to play these teams. Footballers are entertainers and the demand at this time of the year is to go and watch matches - traditionally, you get bumper crowds and that's fantastic. It takes us away from the family and everything else, but that's our profession."
Paul Wotton is convinced the fitness work the Argyle squad have done over recent weeks will stand them in good stead during the busy festive programme. He said: "Physically, it's going to be a demanding period but I think the training we have been doing will stand us in good stead. We are a pretty fit bunch of lads. Some of us have lost a few pounds because we have been working very hard in training. We have done a lot of weights and our diet is good as well. Four games in eight days sounds tough, and it will be tough, don't get me wrong. But, on the other hand, they are great games to play in. We are looking forward to it and seeing how good our fitness levels are. I always enjoy playing at Christmas. I would like to have a blow-out and spend a lot of time with my family but, as professional footballers, we are pretty privileged people. We still get to see our kids open their presents. It's not the end of the world really. We are playing some big games and you haven't got time to think about it. You know when you are a footballer you are not going to have a Christmas. It's one of the very few downsides of being a footballer." Argyle go into the festive programme with four points from their last two matches and Wotton added: "At this time of year you can pick up a lot of points in a short space of time, and we need those points. We are full of confidence at the moment. We had a blip against Coventry but even in that game we created loads of chances and the goals we conceded were our own fault. The last two matches against Watford and Palace have been very good." Argyle have been boosted this week by the decision of Elliott Ward to extend his stay at Home Park for a second month. Wotton said: "I think you can see with Elliott, and with Jason Jarrett, they are getting fitter and better with every game. It's definitely good news Elliott is staying for another month. The last two games he has done particularly well."
Tony Pulis has ruled out a transfer-window move for Grant Holt. He said:"We've watched Holt on two or three occasions this year, but I'm not sure he would be the one we would want. He could cost anything from £500,000 to £700,000. That's too much."
Jason Jarrett looks like being recalled by Norwich City in the New Year, their manager Nigel Worthington said: "The player will be coming back after his month's loan finishes on January 2. We've lost Hughes for a period of time and Safri will be going to Africa for a month or so, so that's the situation - he's coming back."
Tony Pulis has admitted there might be a 'turnaround' in the Argyle squad during the January transfer window. He confirmed there could be several arrivals and departures next month and speculation suggests that Argyle have a 'serious interest' in Rochdale striker Grant Holt. Pulis and his staff have travelled across the country, and Europe, in the search for new signings over the past three months. He has not commented on specific players but the intention is certainly to strengthen the squad during the transfer window. He said: "I hope we can bring a few in. I think there will also be one or two leaving, so there might be a bit of a turnaround." Pulis is a critic of the transfer window system, and added: "I think it's shambolic. We are supposed to be getting closer to Europe, where they want free markets, and they are opening borders and this, that and the other. But some person somewhere has decided there should be an embargo on signing players, which certainly makes it a lot tougher for the smaller clubs. The other thing it will create is panic. There will be a lot of people who will spend a lot of money, either trying to push for promotion or help them away from trouble. It's going to be interesting to see what deals are done. Everybody is talking about what's going to happen. We will have to wait and see."
Paul Connolly has spoken of his dismay at missing out on the game at Cardiff City due to suspension. "I'm gutted," he said. "It's nice to be able to put a run of games in the team together, and the suspension means I won't be able to do that. I just have to hope it turns out to be a one-game absence from the team. Sometimes a one-game ban can turn into a ten-game absence. You might not get back in, but it will be up to me to try and stop that happening." Connolly has appreciated all the guidance he has been given under new manager Tony Pulis. He added: "It's been good. The gaffer has been giving me confidence, and he's quality to work under. That's why it's such a blow to get suspended, because I was coming into a run of form, but at the end of the day it's only one game and there's another game two days afterwards. Hopefully I can get my place back. We've been looking quite strong in the back four. Under the previous manager I was always in and out, and to be fair I suffered a loss of form as well, but I just don't think I was given a good chance by Bobby. Now this gaffer is really pushing me on, and it makes me want to go out and play for him." Connolly played his part last Saturday, when Argyle beat a Crystal Palace side full of international talent. "It was brilliant," he said. "When you're 21 and you're playing against players like Andy Johnson and Clinton Morrison, you've got to be happy with that. That's what you hope and work for. We may be one level below the Premiership, but we're still playing against top-quality players week in, week out. It's really good for a young lad like me, it helps to bring me on." Morrison and Johnson were unable to hide their frustration last weekend. "They got a bit rattled towards the end of the game," Connolly added. "We played our cards right, we were getting in their faces and we were saying little niggly things. We know that teams don't want to come down here, so if we can get in their faces and upset them, then it's half the job done."
Jamie Laird has been called up by Scotland for their Under-17 internationals in Malta and against Wales in the New Year
Last Saturdays win against Crystal Palace was only Argyle's fourth home win this season in the Championship and Paul Wotton is well aware how important it is to improve their record. He said: "It was an ideal boost for us, going into Christmas. It is good to be going into what will be a busy period with a win behind us, but we have to build on that result. It is important every season that we make Home Park a fortress. It's a long way from anywhere, teams don't like coming down here, so it's important that we play our way of football down here and get at teams. Away from home, we've done very well. We've got a good shape, and a good organisation. We've worked very hard in training, and all the guys are pulling in the same direction."
Argyle are facing the possibility of losing the services of Jason Jarrett in the New Year. Norwich manager Nigel Worthington may decide to recall Jarrett when his loan spell with Argyle ends, due to an injury crisis at Carrow Road
Tony Pulis has hinted he may employ some small-scale squad rotation during the busy Christmas and New Year period. He said: "There might be one or two players in the team, because of their age, who I might look at resting. But nine times out of 10 I would always want to pick my best team and then try to get the rest and recovery in, and just ask them to pull out all the stops for us." Pulis and his coaching staff have worked hard on improving the players' fitness levels over recent months and that has had a positive impact on the pitch. He said: "I think there is more put into games than ever before, but that is balanced by all the knowledge that we have got now in respect of diet and rest and recovery." Pulis fears that because Argyle have a smaller squad compared to many clubs in the Championship fatigue - and injuries - could be a factor over Christmas and New Year. He said: "That is one thing that might catch up with us. I don't know. We will have to wait and see. We will certainly prepare them the best we possibly can and we are hoping they will get through this period unscathed. Cardiff away is always difficult and they are in the top six or seven and Preston got into the play-off final last season. Then we have got Wolves and Leeds, so it's a difficult programme for us."
Tony Pulis has given his team a survival target of a further 29 points in the second half of the season. He said: "You've got to aim for 53 points. That, you would hope, would be a no-lose situation. We'd be very unlucky to go down with 53 points. The sooner we get there, the better, and then we can look at it again. That's the aim, but it's a tough call. There's a group of us down there, and we're all fighting for our lives. We're no different. The season will go up and down. We'll get good results and bad results, but what we have to do is keep concentrating on what we believe is right. We did that on Saturday." The victory over Palace followed a draw at Watford the previous weekend. "We were desperately disappointed after the Watford game," Pulis added. "It was like being robbed, but we got the reaction we were looking for against Palace. The attitude and application of the players was first-class. They all stuck to the game-plan and worked very hard."
Elliott Ward has agreed to extend his loan spell with Argyle for a second month. Tony Pulis received a telephone call from him late last night telling him of his decision to return to Home Park. Pulis said: "We are really, really pleased Elliott is staying with us for another month. Elliott could have gone back to West Ham but he has enjoyed it here and enjoyed the opportunity to play. He's getting fitter by the game." Ward returned to West Ham after Argyle's win at home to Crystal Palace for talks with Pardew and in the meantime has picked up a cold, but is expected to return to training on Thursday. Pulis said: "Elliott is very much his own man and he wanted to speak to Alan. Alan has been very, very good. I think he has helped put Elliott's mind at rest. I think Elliott's worry was that sometimes if you are out of sight you are out of mind, but Alan has reassured him about that. We are delighted. We think it's brilliant news for the football club. The fact he wants to stay is a big boost to everybody connected with the football club, from the coaching staff and the players to the supporters. I think he has got better as we have progressed with him. He started okay and has gradually got better. I thought Saturday's performance against Palace was very good." Pulis has been pleased with the way Ward and Mathias Doumbe have played as the centre-back partnership. He said: "You have got someone who is very good in the air and Mattie, who is very quick around him. They have complemented each other very well."
Argyle's apprentice centre-half Jon Routledge has joined Bridgwater Town on loan. He will continue to train with Argyle, but will play for the Somerset side in an open-ended temporary move
Tony Pulis has blamed youthful impetuosity for Paul Connolly's poor disciplinary record this season. Connolly picked up his fifth yellow card and will have to serve a one-match suspension when Argyle visit Cardiff City on Boxing Day. Pulis said: "We are desperately disappointed that Paul will miss the game but you are going to get that. Touch wood, we have been lucky with injuries and suspensions so far. I dread to think what we would be like if we lost a couple of players through that but we have been fortunate and long may that continue. Paul is young and he can be a bit impetuous, but then he's just learning the game. I would prefer to have a full-back who wants to tackle, than a full-back who doesn't want to tackle. It's just learning when to tackle and when not to. I think he has been steadily improving as we have gone along. His fitness levels are better and he has taken on board what we are trying to do. He runs as quick back to his own goal now as he does towards the opponents' goal, which was a fault when I joined the club." With Connolly suspended, Anthony Barness will probably move from left-back to replace him. Pulis said: "Anthony has done very well. I have got to say when I first came here I was a little bit sceptical, but he has improved and has certainly raised the bar in his game. He can play right-back and left-back. He can do both jobs for us."
Tony Pulis will today make a last-ditch bid to extend Elliott Ward's loan spell at Home Park. He said: "I'm speaking to Alan today and hoping that we can keep the kid. West Ham could still call him back within 24 hours, but Elliott's settled in and I'm just hoping and praying that we can get something sorted out. It's a three-way thing. It's alright Plymouth and West Ham saying yes, the kid's got to feel it's right for him as well. That's important. I told him to get himself off - he had his brother with him Saturday night - and have a chat about it. Obviously Plymouth Argyle are desperate to keep him, but Elliott's got to decide and West Ham have got to decide."
Saturdays win lifts Argyle four points clear of their relegation rivals in the Championship and Nick Chadwick believes they can now start to look up rather than over their shoulders following recent results. He said: "Palace were in the Premiership last season and we've beaten them - we've got to take confidence from that. We know we've been playing well and we're starting to put results together now. We can go into any game with confidence now." Chadwick is also confident no defence in the Championship will want to meet himself and Mickey Evans at present. He added: "We defend from the front, but all the lads - not just me and Mickey - work hard. I wouldn't like to single anyone out, but Mickey's done brilliantly all season and I don't think any centre-half partnership wants to come and play against us two. If nothing else they're going to get a rough time. We might not be blessed with the best technical ability in the world, but we're there where it matters." The duo combined after only 12 seconds on Saturday as Evans flicked a long ball onto Chadwick, who caught Palace cold. "It's the quickest goal I've ever scored - definitely," said Chadwick. "Mickey's done brilliantly to flick it on and I've just got across my man. I know nine times out of 10 Mickey wins that type of ball and it was nice to put us up so early. Both of us are doing really well. There's been that understanding between us and to be honest we've knocked defences about all over the place this season. We're both team players and we both appreciate each other, but I thought the defence was absolutely magnificent on Saturday. Ward's just grown every game he's played and Matt was superb." Iain Dowie was less than glowing about Argyle after Saturday's final whistle but was at least respectful of the tactics used, but Chadwick said: "Yes, we like to defend, but for all their possession Palace haven't really looked like scoring. We've scored when it's really mattered. Palace were playing across their back-four and it's great, but they weren't getting anywhere. In this game it's all about scoring."
Tony Capaldi was delighted with Saturday's win over Crystal Palace. "It's a massive three points for us," he said. "It was important to get a victory. We should have won last week, which was a bit disappointing, but today was a good performance against a good side. Palace is a big scalp for us. They have got some good individual players, who pass the ball really well and can cause you problems. That said, I thought we coped really well and deserved our win." Capaldi wrapped things up with the second goal in injury time. He said: "I had exactly the same chance last week and just went to smash it. I guess I've learned from the experience last week, I've tried a dink today as I went through one-on-one and it worked a lot better." Now Argyle will be hoping to build on their success, starting at Cardiff on Boxing Day. Capaldi added: "We have proved we have no one to fear in this league. If we play to our capabilities we are more than capable of matching anyone - we don't need to be scared of anyone. We've got a couple of home games over Christmas, so it's important that we get as many points as possible out of those games. Our performances recently haven't been too bad, we've just drawn quite a few games. The aim now has to be to try and turn those draws, especially at home, into wins, a bit like today. We've got four points from our last two games, but really it should have been six. It's a good start, though, heading into Christmas."
Tony Pulis paid tribute to Nick Chadwick after the striker wrote himself into the club's record books by scoring after just 12 seconds during the victory over Crystal Palace. "Nick Chadwick has worked hard," said Pulis. "He's got himself a bit slimmer, and he can get around the pitch a little better and it's helped his game. I'm pleased for him because he's a good kid and he's really knuckled down. When I first came here, he was having a difficult time - I don't think the supporters were that enamoured - but he's certainly changed that around and that goal was a fantastic finish. Matty Doumbe played the ball forward, Mickey won the first header and it's a fantastic finish from Chadwick. It's his first touch of the ball and the finish was sublime. It's a good three points against a very good side. If you look at what Palace have got - they've probably got the best choice of front players in the league- and for us to keep a clean sheet today was a massive, massive bonus. We've worked hard. People talk about the back four but the players in front of them have worked tremendously hard and people don't see that. Sometimes you get in the situation, even today, when they're working so hard without the ball that, when they do get the ball, they're working at the same pace and sometimes give it back. We maybe need to take the sting out of it and keep the ball but that takes time." Tony Pulis is keen to keep Elliott Ward, whose brother Darren watched from the stands having been dropped by Palace yesterday, at Argyle by extending his loan, which is due to end this Tuesday. "We're desperate to keep him," he said. "I think he's been superb, he's raised the bar with everybody. He does his job very well, he wins every header and his feet are not too bad either. He's settled here and I'm hoping we can get something sorted out. It's a three-way thing; it's not just Plymouth and West Ham, Elliott needs to decide what he wants as well. He's going out for a meal with Darren tonight and they'll have a chat and we'll speak on Monday."
Argyle beat Crystal Palace 2-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Nick Chadwick in the 1st minute and Tony Capaldi (90). Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Chadwick, Evans. Subs - Buzsaky (not used - McCormick, Aljofree, Djordjic, Derbyshire). Attendance - 14,582.
Argyle must get more streetwise if they are to stay in the Championship this season, according toTony Pulis. He said: "I just think we have got to toughen up a little bit and become more streetwise. The effort and commitment of the players, and the shape of the team, has been very good. Our football has been good at times, and so have the goals we have scored. We have become a lot stronger as a team, going forward and defensively. The foundations are being laid. We have just got to become a little bit more ruthless in both final thirds of the pitch. When we get chances we have got to start taking them, and we have got to be a bit more ruthless defending-wise as well. I think one or two have pussy-footed around instead of maybe clearing the danger. But they are getting there. I don't think anybody can complain about the effort and the commitment these players are putting in at the moment."
Akos Buzsaky may have to settle for a place on the bench tomorrow. Tony Pulis said: "With Buzsaky, whether he'll be fit enough to start or not is the big question. We might need to be a bit careful with him, and have him on the bench. We don't want him to play tomorrow and then lose him for the four games over Christmas and New Year. We'll see how he trains later today and tomorrow. It's a home game this weekend, and I'd rather he played at home than away. No disrespect, but you need your more creative players in home games, so I'll be desperately keen to have Akos involved on Saturday. But he's still feeling the injury a little bit, which is a problem. He has been told he has got to push through that." Pulis revealed he would ask Buzsaky how he felt about playing tomorrow before making a final decision. He said: "He's a sensible kid and he knows his body better than me. I have always been that way inclined. I think when you get big, ugly defenders who have had injuries, they sometimes need a kick up the backside and to be shoved out. But with the silky players, usually you are best off talking to them because they are the more fragile type." Pulis revealed the Argyle squad had double sessions on both Monday and Tuesday and was pleased with their response. He said: "They trained hard on Monday and Tuesday, when they had some very tough sessions. They had a day off on Wednesday and they came in yesterday afternoon so they could have a lay-in. We did some serious work with the players yesterday and it will be more of the same today." After back-to-back away games, Pulis is looking forward to playing at Home Park again. "It's always nice playing at home and I have enjoyed the games here," he said. "I enjoy the atmosphere. You get over 15,000 people and the place rocks, and that's what we need."
Lee Hodges is almost ready to play after his long-term back injury. He has been taking a full part in training for the last two weeks, and Tony Pulis has been impressed by what he has seen. "We need to give Lee some games," he said, "and I might get him involved over the next two or three weeks. Lee has done really well. He has trained well and I might put him on the bench and bring him on at some point over the next five games."
Elliott Ward could make his fifth and final appearance for Argyle against Crystal Palace tomorrow. His loan move ends next Tuesday and it is expected West Ham United will recall him for the busy Christmas and New Year period. However, Tony Pulis has not given up hope of persuading Alan Pardew to let Ward stay at Home Park. Pulis said: "If you have a look at the Watford game and the crosses into our box, Elliott won nearly all of them. He was like a magnet. From their set plays and long balls, he was clearing everything. You need those sort of players." Pulis believes his Palace manger Iain Dowie, boasts four of the best forwards in the Championship. He said: "They have got four forwards who everybody else in the league would die for. Forwards are the difference and that is what Palace have got. They have got that quality in the right areas." Pulis also thinks Palace's chances of automatic promotion are over, with a place in the play-offs the best they can hope for. He said: "I think Iain will be disappointed they have not taken off yet, but there's a long way to go and I have no doubt they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. I think Reading and Sheffield have made such a massive points gap that it's going to be difficult to catch those two. Those two clubs are going to have to have horrendous runs and other clubs are going to have to put great runs together. I can't see Reading and Sheffield United losing four or five games consecutively to give the other teams the chance to push on."
Akos Buzsaky is hopeful of being fit for Saturday's game against Crystal Palace. He said: "I am hopeful that I will be fit to play against Crystal Palace this weekend. I started training on Monday and apart from a little soreness, everything has gone fine. I am feeling okay. I had a scan and that proved that I did not have a hernia, which was a relief. I am just happy to be back with the lads and looking forward to playing again. These things happen in football. You do not plan it and you can do nothing about it. Being injured is the worse thing in football. I think the rest will have helped, as before my injury I had been training and playing for Plymouth and then I joined the Hungary squad. I gave my problem no time to heal itself. It has been frustrating watching the lads play knowing you cannot do anything to help." Buzsaky is looking to help Argyle move away from the relegation zone. He added: "It is important we start winning again - we've had too many draws, which has been a shame. I'm very happy with the team - now I understand what the gaffer wants from me, I feel a lot better about my game. I am happy that the fans like me, but I just do my job, the important thing is that the team does well, not just me."
Michael Dunford hopes that Argyle fans will turn out in force during the second half of the season - and help the team achieve safety in the league. He said: "If you look at the fixture list, we have some of the more attractive fixtures in the second half of the season. We may not attain the 16,000 average we achieved last year, but I certainly think we can go over the 14,000 mark. I'm not unduly worried about it. The last Saturday before Christmas is notoriously poorly attended, and we're not exactly flying up the League table at the moment, but I think Tony Pulis and his team are creating an impetus. We're just seeing the shoots of that coming through. It looks like we're going to have our second highest League attendance of the season against Palace, which is encouraging as they're only bringing about 1,100 fans. The offer for the juveniles has been made because money is tight at this time of year. We had to do something positive, but there's a limit to what we can do. We don't want to upset nearly 9,000 season-ticket holders, who purchased tickets in advance. We want to improve attendances, and the catalyst for that will be a winning side. Everybody is putting their efforts into that, but we also have to look at new markets and try and bring people into Plymouth Argyle." Argyle face two trips to Wolverhampton Wanderers in seven days in January and non-members can save money by buying tickets for both games. Dunford said: "For the FA Cup tie, two Championship clubs playing each other twice within a week is not a good recipe for an attractive fixture, but I think we'll have more fans at the Cup tie than the League game. We did ask Wolves if they'd consider bringing the kick-off of the League game forward, but they decided not to. That's their prerogative. They've got 18,000 season-ticket holders. For the Cup tie, they've had to introduce some stimulation to attract a decent gate. That will be good for us, because 45 per-cent of the net income from the Cup tie will come to Argyle." A Cup replay against Wolves, which would take place on January 17, would give a further boost to Argyle's income, but Dunford admitted that attracting a good gate for an extra fixture next month might well be very hard. "It would be nice, but you have to look at the number of home fixtures we would then have in January, and the strain they would put on supporters' pockets," he said. "We play Leeds, Norwich and Southampton, and we have the re-arranged game against Leicester on the 24th. That could move to the 28th if both teams exit the Cup at the third-round stage, but we hope that won't be the case. The FA Cup is the icing on the cake, though. Our priority this season has to be establishing a credible League position. We want to stabilise ourselves in the Championship, and Phase Two is hopefully imminent. This is about building a football club on and off the field. It all goes in hand." There has been no confirmation from the club that Phase Two will commence on schedule next summer, though. "The board will make a statement in the near future," Dunford added. "There's an awful lot of work going into a project of this magnitude, and there will be a major announcement at the appropriate time. That's likely to be in the new year now."
Argyle are starting to see the best of Jason Jarrett, according to Tony Pulis. He said: "I think Jason has gone from Wigan to Norwich and it hasn't worked out as well as he had expected. I think it was a little knock-back for him and it was going to take him time to settle down. But in training leading up to Watford, and in the game itself, he has started to show what he's capable of. He has been a little bit extra after training with Max and I think it has helped him. Elliott and him were both in a similar position. They hadn't played many games before coming here and were going to be a little bit short. I thought both of them did extremely well on Saturday." Argyle's next game, against Crystal Palace, will be the last before Christmas. Pulis said: "We will need all the players to play at their maximum for us to get a result. We can't be carrying anybody." Meanwhile, Pulis has taken no disciplinary action against Elliott Ward or David Norris after their angry exchange following the final whistle at Watford. On the contrary, Pulis thought it was a positive sign that both players were hugely frustrated not to have won the match. Ward and Norris had to be separated by Jarrett as they argued with each other on the pitch. Pulis said: "I have spoken to the two of them and they were desperately disappointed about the result. You don't want that situation to go any further but it's nice to know the players really care. One of them is a loan signing, but it just proves that Elliott plays to win."
Tony Pulis wants to extend the loan spell of Elliott Ward. He said: "I will speak to West Ham, Elliott and his agent as the week goes on. The idea of the loan was that Elliott would come and play full games and then Alan would have him back. I will see what the situation is but I thought Saturday was his best game so far. He played really well." Ward said: "Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew are good mates and they have spoken about my progress. We will have to see what happens after next week. I want to play football and there are a lot of games over Christmas when I may be needed at West Ham. I'm still confident, and so is the gaffer, that if I'm required at West Ham I can go into the squad and do well for them."
Akos Buzsaky returned to full training with the rest of the Argyle squad yesterday. Tony Pulis said: "He's still feeling it a little bit. I think it's about him getting the confidence to get in the mix again as much as anything else. We have spoken to Akos and told him to take it day by day."
Argyle's reserve team fixture away to Bristol City tomorrow afternoon has been postponed and no new date has yet been set
Nick Chadwick did not try to hide his disappointment after Saturdays game. "That really felt like a defeat," he said. "That late goal really took the wind out of our sails. We really played well as the away side. We got a goal and we didn't look in danger of conceding one, and again we've shot ourselves in the feet. It just leaves us feeling sick, really. There was nothing in the game. We defended a lot better than we did last week. We've got the goal. I tried to get myself in front of the 'keeper when the ball landed, and I managed to turn it in. Tony could have scored a second, and we just keep conceding goals like the one we let in here. We're just killing ourselves. This is the most disappointed we've felt. We sniffed success, but we've only drawn. It's a shame we couldn't hang on. We played well, and we were the better side. We're really sick." As Argyle prepare for next Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace they will need to take encouragement from the way they played at Watford. "We will do that, but it's hard to think like that at the moment," Chadwick said. "We really are disappointed. We're playing well, but we're just not picking up enough points. I suppose there are positives, but it's hard to see them straight after the final whistle." Tony Capaldi agreed that 'It feels like a defeat'. He said: "It's definitely two points dropped. It could have been so much better. I had a great chance at the end, which I should have scored, and it would have killed the game off but it just wasn't to be, unfortunately. I just tried to put my head down and hit it as hard as I could when really I should have placed it, but it's one of those mistakes you make in a game. I hoped we could hold on at 1-0 and no-one would notice it that much but, obviously, now it has been a costly miss. It's just the way things are going at the moment. We have put in a good, solid performance. We got the goal, defended well and then in the end we have conceded a late goal and we have come away with a point instead of three." Capaldi took some consolation from the fact Argyle came so close to beating one of the top sides in the Championship. "I think we were the better team overall," he said. "We had lost two on the trot before today so at least we have stopped the rot. We didn't want to be going into the Christmas period with three defeats behind us. I'm bitterly disappointed, but we will pick ourselves up for next week." Argyle took the lead against Watford when Nick Chadwick scored his third goal of the season. Capaldi said: "He has been working hard every game and luckily something has dropped for him in the box. He has finished it well so I was really pleased for him." Capaldi's frustration was shared by his team-mates, including Norris, who said: "For them to score in the 92nd minute is an absolute killer. We got the goal and everything was going well. I know we defended a lot in the second half but that's what we should be able to do away from home. You have got to be able to take the pressure but mistakes keep costing us points. It's massively frustrating. The boys were low in the changing room afterwards because three points is a big difference to one. But if there is a positive we can take, it's the fact they are third in the league and we have come here and should have taken three points."
Tony Pulis was unhappy with his players defending in the final minutes following Argyle's battling performance at Watford. "We're desperately disappointed," he said. "I don't think we should have lost that game today. I was a defender who played in midfield and I used to relish those challenges - 1-0 away from home in the last quarter of an hour when they are throwing everything at you. I used to enjoy those; that was what I was being paid for - for those opportunities to show that I could defend, and that I had the balls to stand up. I'm not saying the players haven't got the balls to stand up - what I'm saying is, whether it's inexperience or whether it's people making bad decisions, it's just costing us at the moment. We've got to enjoy that challenge but, at the moment, one or two people are not stepping up to the mark and making sure that, when they do tackle, they are winning. I can't fault the effort; it's just that we're getting done by people not being maybe as strong as they should be. The way we played for 90 minutes was first class; in injury-time, we got a little bit panicky, and that's when I want the men to stand up and be counted. There are a lot of positives to come out of the game. I'm disappointed with the result but pleased with the performance. There were just one or two individual mistakes when we were put under pressure, and we have got to do better than that because teams in this league will put you under pressure and you have got to have people who will stand up. It was one of those games when you had to battle, you had to scrap, and they did all that. They did fine, but, as the game goes on, when you are winning, you have got to have people in your team who understand what the battle is all about and do the right things at the right time, and, unfortunately, we're getting caught with individuals making mistakes which are costing us. It's like someone's robbed you." Pulis's focus on his teams defending allowed him to exonerate a miss by Tony Capaldi towards the end. "If he gets that, with seven or eight minutes to go, the game is over and I don't think anybody can have any complaints," said Pulis. "I still thought we could go and get another one. I thought that if we stood up at the back and defended as well as you would expect people to, we could break and score another goal. Tony's missed that great chance but there were still opportunities for us to create better chances." Pulis also reiterated his determination to add players to the squad in the January transfer-window. "We need to bring some players in," he said. The spirit and work-rate collectively is first class - you can't ask for any more from the players - but we need a bit more quality in certain areas. Fingers crossed, if we can get the one or two we are looking for, that'll add a little bit to the group." Nick Chadwick's goal was a deserved reward for a committed performance, but there were also one or two situations where he perhaps took the wrong option. "I'm pleased for Nick," Pulis said, "but there were a couple of chances first half where he could have slipped people in. Tony would have been free with one, David with the other, but Nick worked his socks off. I'm pleased for him, he's a good lad."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Watford, the goal scored by Nick Chadwick after 48 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Aljofree, Derbyshire (not used - McCormick, Lasley, Djordjic). Attendance - 12,884.
Romain Larrieu was distraught after Argyle's defeat at Coventry City, and he wants to put it right - starting at Watford this afternoon. "I was very upset last Saturday," he said. "We started the game ever so well, but we conceded a goal that we should have avoided. Then our heads dropped. We found ourselves 2-1 down at half-time. I don't know how. Away from home, we knew it was going to be hard. The gaffer told us the next goal was crucial, and he was right. They scored it, and the game was over. I was really disappointed. We let in three goals, and that's not good enough. But we created a lot of scoring opportunities, which is a good sign. Hopefully, if we keep doing that, we can start taking chances and release the pressure on the defence. It's true we made mistakes. We need to eradicate this side of our game. If we get beaten by brilliance, then, OK, you put your hands up and that's fine." Larrieu did not agree that mistakes can only be halted by an improvement in concentration, and not by extra effort in training. "No, I think you can do it in training," he said. "That's what we've been doing this week, and hopefully it will show on Saturday." Larrieu insisted that any inferiority complex would be inappropriate at Vicarage Road today. "We're not that bad," he added. "I think we've been doing quite well, but there are areas of the pitch where we need to be clinical, which we haven't been doing. At the start of the season, we let Watford back into the game here. Apart from Reading and Sheffield United, the other 22 teams in the league are at roughly the same level. We'll see if I'm right on Saturday, but I really think we can take them. If we can eradicate the mistakes, I'm sure we'll be fine this season. We have nothing to fear. We need to keep believing that."
Geoff Crudgington has admitted that Argyle face a difficult task when they take on Wolves in the FA Cup next month. He said: "Wolves don't get beaten very often but they don't always win when they should. I think they are pretty close, at the moment, to being a really good side. You always hope to have a good cup run but it will be difficult up there, both in the league and the cup. There will be a big crowd and they get behind them. There are teams that have got easier draws in the cup than us, let's put it like that. But it would be nice to have a cup run because it has been a while since we have had one. Crudgington admitted his initial reaction to the draw was that it had been not especially kind. "One, it was away, two, we would have liked a Premiership club and, three, we are at Wolves the Saturday before," he said. "It's nice to go back to the hometown, but you can get too much of a good thing!" Crudgington was an associate schoolboy with Wolves from the age of 14 to 16. He added: "I left when I was 16-and-a-half and went to Aston Villa because they offered me a professional contract. I played in the FA Youth Cup for the Wolves and for their third and fourth teams. My dad was a season ticket holder but I tended to go and watch West Brom more than the Wolves. My mum lives in Wolverhampton so it's still home really."
Argyle will be without Akos Buzsaky for tomorrow's trip to Watford. Tony Pulis said: "Akos is out, but the good news is that I don't think there's anything serious there. There was talk of hernias and goodness knows what. Akos won't be involved on Saturday, but we hope he'll start full training on Monday. I'm pleased, because we were very, very concerned. It was taking its time." Buzsaky has earned plenty of praise for the quality of his play, and speculative reports have suggested that he could be on his way to a Premiership club when the transfer window opens next month. "I've not spoken to Paul Stapleton about selling," Pulis said. "I've spoken to him about bringing players in. But I might want to move one or two on. That is definitely an option, but I've not spoken about selling our better players. There are four of us doing a lot of work, working with our players and also travelling the country looking at players. Pulis is no fan of transfer windows, and feels it is very restrictive. "January is not a good time to buy," Pulis said. "This window is an absolute nonsense. They talk about free trade in Europe, and then they bring this in. It is annoying." Of tomorrow's opponents Pulis said: "Watford have done very well this season and when you look at the goalscoring charts they have got King and Young on 10. That's 20 goals before you start, and if you put 20 goals in our team and I think we would be up and around there." Argyle have gone 10 away Championship matches without a win since they beat Reading in August. Pulis said: "I'm concerned about it because I don't think that should happen, but I'm also realistic enough to know that we could have won a few of those games. I don't think we have been far short of winning in a few games - the draw at Sheffield Wednesday, the draw at QPR, the draw at Southampton. It's that thin line again, but we could definitely have won those games. They are not dropping for us at the moment but, fingers crossed, we will put a performance in at Watford and we will get a little bit of luck."
Bojan Djordjic was back in training yesterday, after recovering from a hamstring problem sustained last week. Tony Pulis said: "Bojan trained with us for the first time this week today, so we'll see what he's like on Saturday. He'll come into the squad, but whether I'll start him is another matter." Djordjic is relieved to make such a swift return and is ready to play whatever role Pulis asks of him. "Sometimes you have a little setback, and I have had mine now," he said. "I'm glad it was only a bruised hamstring instead of a tear. A bruised hamstring means it's like a dead leg. I'm just happy to be back in the squad for tomorrow. We need to pick up the results now. We have lost the last two games but there is a lot of confidence in the dressing room we can turn it around and, hopefully, we can start that at Watford tomorrow." Djordjic has only started two matches for Argyle since Pulis was appointed manager, but he has come off the bench five times. "I have played more games than some people maybe expected when the new gaffer came in," he said. "I have had to get used to coming off the bench and trying to do my best. At the end of the day, I get paid to create chances and do the offensive work. I don't think the people on the terraces at Home Park will actually notice me run back sometimes. They will judge me on what I do going forward. But it's important to be a team player and that's what I'm getting to grips with now." Djordjic was a substitute for Argyle when they drew 3-3 against Watford at Home Park in August, after leading 3-1 at half-time. He said: "We just threw it away. We conceded two silly goals and they were back at 3-3. In this league, everybody can beat everybody. It doesn't matter if you are number one or number 24 in the table, as you have seen with some of the results. Brighton went to Watford last Saturday and got a result so I think we can go there and get a win. That's what we need to have confidence in."
Paul Connolly is expected to start at right-back for Argyle at Watford tomorrow. Tony Pulis said: "With Paul Connolly coming in it gives us an option at right-back, which is good. I like Paul. He has still got a lot to learn but I think he's going to be a good player for this football club. Paul gives us a little bit more going forward than any other full-back at the club, to be honest. He's naturally a more forward-thinking player."
Argyle's youth team lost 4-3 to Sunderland, after extra-time, at Home Park last night. The goals were scored by Martin Watts, Reuben Reid and Dan Gosling: Argyle: Debbage, McKeever, Kendall, Laird.S, Drew, Smith, Summerfield, Bond, Watts, Reid, Reski. Subs - Gosling, Mason (not used - White, Hopkinson, Davis). Stuart Gibson said: "Of course we are disappointed to lose, but you have got to look at who we were playing against. Sunderland are one of the biggest clubs in the country and they have an academy set-up. The pleasing thing for me was that we played well and did ourselves justice which, as a coach, is all you can ask. We more than matched them and forced them to change the way they were playing. Kevin Ball came into our dressing room afterwards and congratulated the boys. He said 'I played this game for 20 years and I always gave as good as I got and you have done the same tonight. I wish you well for the future.' I thought that was absolutely brilliant of him."
Argyle's youth team face Sunderland in the FA Youth Cup at Home Park tonight. Stuart Gibson is confident that his charges will not look out of place. He said: "I know from my time in the north-east how competitive it is for the big three clubs. Along with Hartlepool, we at Darlington had to pick up the bits and pieces that were left behind. There's a lot of prestige involved in having a good run in the FA Youth Cup. Sunderland went out in this round last year to Middlesbrough, so they'll be under pressure. They don't want to go out that early again." Sunderland are taking their journey to the Westcountry very seriously. "The fact that they're flying down tells you something about how they're treating the tie," Gibson said. "They'll know we've scored a lot of goals and are on an 11-game unbeaten run, and they'll be thinking that they might have their work cut out here. It's up to us to be ready. It's a chance for our players to nail their colours to the mast, so to speak, and show what they're all about. I'm looking forward to playing an Academy club. They're supposed to be better than us, so let's test ourselves. We've had them watched, so we're prepared and it's a cup tie. It's down to what happens on the day. I know that, if my boys don't freeze and if they just go out and play, they'll be a match for anybody in the country, the way they're playing at the moment." The Youth Cup's age restrictions mean that Chris Zebroski and John Routledge are both ineligible tonight, but Luke Summerfield is able to play. "Luke has been good to work with," Gibson said. "He had training sessions with us on Saturday and Monday. He has benefited from working with the first-team players. There's a higher tempo about his game, and he sees things earlier. He's brighter." Argyle 'keeper James Debbage has a good reason for wanting beat Sunderland tonight. The young Geordie supports Newcastle United, and Gibson added: "When I told the lads the draw, they already knew, because he'd had a phone call. His smile was as broad as the Tyne. He can't wait for it."
Argyle are set to be without Bojan Djordjic for the game at Watford on Saturday. Tony Pulis said: "It could be anything from 10 days to three weeks from when he did it. We will have to wait and see. When you have that sort of injury it's just a matter of time more than anything else."
Bjarni Gudjonsson may be considering a return to Iceland should he, as expected, leave Argyle during the January transfer window. Tranmere Rovers and Grimsby Town are both thought to have made inquiries about him before the deadline last month, but he turned them down
Tony Pulis has sung the praises of Anthony Barness, who has played at both left-back and right-back in recent games. Pulis said: "I have been impressed with Anthony the last few weeks. I think he has really played well. I only brought him off on Saturday because we were trying to play two against two at the back and push Connolly on. Connolly had fresh legs and can put in some decent crosses. It was no reflection on the way Anthony had played." Barness had been an injury doubt before the game because of a hamstring strain but did not suffer any adverse reaction. Connolly was only on the bench after sitting out training all week with a thigh problem. However, Pulis is hoping both will be fully fit for the visit to Watford this Saturday. Pulis added: "Anthony was fine on Saturday but we were still a little bit concerned with Paul. Hopefully, he will get over that problem with this week's training." All four of Argyle's defenders played in different positions against Coventry, compared to the previous game, but Pulis did not believe moving them around resulted in the errors which led to Coventry scoring three times. He said: "They had four efforts on goal in the first half, including Adebola, where he hit the bar. I think Doyle hit one miles over, but from the other situations it was us giving them the opportunities, rather than Coventry creating them. I just think it's individual errors that are costing us at the moment."
Tony Pulis has been given assurances he will have money to spend on strengthening the squad during the transfer window in January. The board of directors have told Pulis there is money for new players, and he and his staff are scouring this country and overseas for potential signings. Pulis said: "The chairman and the board of directors have been very positive in saying if we need to add to the squad then we will add to it. Hopefully, we have got the opportunity to bring that little bit of quality in that maybe we need. Myself, Kempy and Dessie are all going to games tonight to watch forwards and defenders, who are playing in the lower leagues. We might need to go out on Wednesday as well, if we get the right information. That never stops." O'Connor and Lindsay Parsons both went on overseas scouting missions last weekend, and that will continue. Pulis said: "We have got games abroad that we will be watching as well. You talk to people about players out there and there is a group of them that are beyond what we can afford. But there are one or two that we can get, if we feel it's right to bring them into the football club."
Tony Pulis was as disappointed as anyone after the defeat at Coventry, but preferred to focus on the positive, rather than negative, aspects of the game. "There's a quite a few things that have come out of the game that would surprise a hell of a lot of people," he said, "A lot of things. The way we played in the first 35 minutes was the best we have played away from home. We completely controlled the game. I don't think we were in any trouble whatsoever. That was encouraging. We played ten times better at Coventry than we did at Luton. Luton absolutely dominated us, and we came away with a point and everybody said what a great point that was, a great performance, that everybody battled. We played better on Saturday, we created more chances on Saturday, we got in better positions on Saturday, but we made three poor, poor mistakes at the back and got beaten 3-1. We have got to eradicate those mistakes - they are things you can't legislate for. As hard as you work, as much effort as the players put in, if you are going to make mistakes, at this level, it costs. For the first 35 minutes, we were well in control and then we gifted them two goals; then we gifted them the third goal. We have got to be more ruthless at both ends of the pitch. We have got to defend for our lives in the final third and take chances that we are creating. Whether the reason why that is not happening is a lack of quality or a lack of ruthlessness, we have got to decide." Nevertheless, Pulis feels he has plenty to work with in the opposition's final third. "We got to the bye-line, we got round the back and we got good crosses in, and we got people in the box," he said. "You won't believe this, but we got 28 crosses in on Saturday - away from home. When you think that Reading - the team that's top of the league - played here and got seven crosses in all game, we went to Coventry and had 28 crosses. That's a phenomenal amount of crosses to get in away from home."
David Norris admitted that defensive frailties cost Argyle dear in Saturday's defeat at Coventry. He said: "The main aim when we started was to keep it quiet for the first 25 minutes, because we knew they'd come out roaring. We did that and we got ourselves a goal as well, but after that it just went downhill. Even if we'd gone in at half-time at 1-1, we'd have fancied our chances, but for them to score so soon in the second half was a real sucker punch." Norris's first goal of the season was little consolation. Describing his it, he said: "It was a good cross from Barney . Once I saw him get behind their defence, I checked my run, and our two forwards took the defenders in. I managed to get a good connection on the ball." The lead did not last though, as defensive errors contributed to all three Coventry goals. "The last few weeks, we've been strong and solid at the back," Norris added. "Here, not just the back four but as a team, defensively we were poor. Our clearances were weak. We're doing all right at home, and if we could nick the odd away win it would really push us up the league, but at the moment it's not happening for us. We will go in on Monday and I'm sure we will watch the video, work on things on the training ground and we will be back refreshed for the game at Watford."
Argyle have been drawn away to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the third round of the FA Cup. The tie will be played on January 7th. Following the draw, Tony Pulis said: "The first thing you want from an FA Cup tie is a home draw; if you don't get that, you want to get a good game, and, to me, Wolves are a great team. We'll all be looking forward to it. I might be showing my age, but Wolves are a team I associate with the FA Cup. They have a fantastic support, a fantastic fan-base, and a fantastic ground. We'll be massive underdogs for the game, there's no doubt about that, but it's great credit to this club that we go into the hat for the third round on level terms with teams like Wolves."
Tony Pulis accused his players of not being ruthless enough and defending poorly after yesterdays defeat. He said: "We had the game, to be honest, and we threw it away. I don't think there's any doubt about that. The goals were very, very poor goals and they disappointed me. In the first 25 minutes, we got the goal with some good play. Chuck could have had a hat-trick and, on another day, he would have. We had two great efforts off set plays. We could have scored four goals in the first 25 minutes. I thought we were very comfortable. We played some good stuff and, when we did pass the ball, we caused them all sorts of problems. We scored one and then we got caught in possession and gifted them their first goal; the second one, the defending was very, very poor; the third one, we had control of the ball on the edge of the box, gave it back to them, and McSheffrey stuck it in the back of the net. Goals change games and the third goal took the wind out of our sails. It kills you, absolutely kills you. Two goals just before half-time and one afterwards takes it right out of you. You can't concede goals like that away from home and hope to win games. I think we have got to hold our hands up as a team and just say that we defended very, very poorly. We just lacked that little bit of quality at times. We could have that quality in the team but, if you concede goals like we conceded today, you aren't going to get anything for it anyway. We have got to be a lot stronger, a lot more ruthless, and we weren't in our own final third today."
Argyle lost 3-1 at Coventry City, the goal scored by David Norris after 25 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Kouo-Doumbe, Ward, Aljofree, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Jarrett, Capaldi, Evans, Chadwick. Subs – Taylor, Derbyshire, Connolly (not used - McCormick, Lasley). Attendance - 18,796.
Tony Pulis has urged fans to support Mickey Evans and help him come through his goal drought. "We need, and everybody knows that we need a cutting edge," he said. "But we can't do anything until the transfer window opens - if we can do anything at all in that period. That's what we're looking for and I don't think you can criticise either the shape of the team or the way the players are working within the group. A lot of people have criticised Mickey - there's that divide over him. But you watch the tape of the Reading match and Mickey has played ever so well for us. But what we need is for Mickey to get a goal for us, desperately, to give him that little bit of confidence. He can score and will score, hopefully, if he gets that little bit of confidence. We need 10 to 12 goals off both strikers from now until the end of the season. Chadwick also looks like he's going to score every game now and that's a massive bonus. He has been getting into good positions and has been unfortunate, but he's getting there. But what we need now is for Mickey to get there. Even if he's missing chances - it doesn't make any difference to me - being there is important and I'll speak to Mickey about that. It's always disappointing when you lose, especially at home, but when you watch the tape of the game and look at different people, Mickey absolutely slaughtered their two centre-halves. I thought on the day that he did, but after watching the tape he was even better than I thought. I don't think they got a free header, everything that was played up to him or around him was kept. Speaking to Steve Coppell afterwards he admitted they were relieved when we brought Mickey off, because he was such a handful. But what we need is for Mickey now to get in the box or the back post and score goals. I'm sure that when he gets one and gets that little bit of confidence again he'll be up and running. He's a big, big player for this football club."
Jason Jarrett is settling in at Argyle after a full week's training and is getting to know his new team-mates - which was not the case seven days ago. "It wasn't the best of circumstances," he said. "I hadn't even passed a ball to any of my team-mates before last Saturday. It was difficult, but the lads helped me to settle in quickly" Jarrett is well aware of the importance of today's match. "They're struggling down there, and it's a big game for both teams," he said. "It's a tough league. If you don't start well, you're going to struggle. It doesn't matter who you are. All teams have to work hard, the same as everybody else." Argyle have delivered plenty of effort and commitment this season, but they have found goals hard to come by. "We need to score more goals first and foremost, and then I'm sure we'll start winning games," Jarrett added. "We created quite a few chances last weekend, and we were unlucky. I'm sure eventually the strikers will start getting goals, but it's not just down to them. The midfielders have to start pitching in as well."
Tony Pulis remains upbeat despite injuries to key players ahead of tomorrow's game at Coventry. Akos Buzsaky is still nursing an abdominal strain, Bojan Djordjic will miss the trip with a hamstring problem while Anthony Barness and Paul Connolly are also worries. Barness with a hamstring problem and Connolly a sore thigh. Pulis said: "We've had three players not train this week - Barness, Connolly and Buzsaky. So there will be a late decision on those three. Barness is struggling with his hamstring, Connolly with his thigh and Buzsaky still has a problem with his stomach strain. Bo is definitely out with his hamstring, though, and is not available for Saturday. It's not as serious as we first thought, but he's not going to be fit for Saturday. It's a blow, of course, because every time you get a senior player unavailable, then it's going to be a blow. He's one of those players who can open a door for you, and can score a goal for us as he's done. He scored the goal against Luton and he created a couple of good chances last week against Reading. So it's a disappointment for us, but we've got to get on with it. As a manager you accept that during a season, you're going to have a situation where you're going to lose players. Unfortunately, you're going to have to accept that and make sure the team that you do put out will give you a performance. That's all you can ask for." Pulis, though, admitted he was delighted to have Paul Wotton back available for consideration. "We look forward to bringing Paul back into the squad," he said. "I think Wotton has done exceptionally well since I've been here. As the games have gone on he has raised his level of performance. We were desperately disappointed to lose him for the game against Reading." Asked if Wotton will start the match, Pulis added: "I'll be looking at it seriously, especially if Buzsaky's injured." Pulis is surprised by Coventry's lowly position in the Championship. "Coventry had a good start last week at home to Norwich but then gave a two-goal lead away," he said. "But I respect every team I come up against as a manager and I certainly respect Coventry. They had Gary McSheffrey, Dele Adebola, James Scowcroft and Andrew Morrell as their forward line last week, and they are four forwards you would expect to score goals. And for their midfield, they've just signed Don Hutchison and they've also got Hughes, who was outstanding last year, and little Doyle. While at the back there's Robert Page with all his experience and Marcus Hall, whom I've worked with. So it is a surprise, when you mention those names, that Coventry are struggling. I think it's going to be a decent game and they will go out to win the game for sure. I don't think they will sit back at all, so we've got to make sure we're up for it. Physically, Coventry are a big team and I expect it to be a really tough encounter."
Mickey Evans is under no illusions about how tough the remainder of the season is going to be, but believes Argyle have proved they are capable of holding their own in the Championship. He said: "I'm enjoying this season, definitely. But it is going to be hard work, I think. That's because we haven't got the money to go out and spend a million on centre forwards like, say, teams like Reading have. So, it's going to be a tough one for us. But I think that our last six or seven appearances have been very good. We went to Ipswich and played very well, despite losing 3-1, and again last Saturday, I thought we coped with them quite well, and their lad scored a great goal. It was overall evens until they scored the first goal. But the lads' attitude towards working and playing is there. We've had quite a good run really lately, apart from those two defeats, except that we have drawn a lot. If we could turn draws into victories then we'd be halfway up the table. But having said that, I think we've got to work hard every game and probably harder than we did the week before. We've some hard games coming up, starting at Coventry tomorrow, and a busy Christmas period as well. After going to Coventry, we've got Watford away, so there are no easy games. But, at the end of the day, it's up to us to get our heads down and get amongst it and try to do our best. We're more than capable of holding our own in this division - I think we've proved that with our recent performances. We're not that far away from having a good run."
Nigerian international Benedict Akwuegbu has been on trial at Argyle this week. The striker is currently with Austrian club Wacker Tirol, but is keen to play in England. Akwuegbu has now returned to Innsbruck, but David Kemp confirmed he had been training with the squad this week. "He was just one of a number of trialists we have been looking at," said Kemp. Akwuegbu said: "I like Tirol, but playing in England has always been my dream. So it would be great to get a contract at Plymouth as a starting point. Europe is where the best football is played and England is football's home. It would just be amazing to sign a deal there." But Akwuegbu is not thought to have impressed during his stay at Argyle
Paul Wotton admits he is not certain of winning back his place in the starting line-up for the game at Coventry City on Saturday. He said: "I will be free to play again on Saturday, as it was only a one-match ban. Hopefully, I will be able get my place back in the team and again, hopefully, get a decent result. There's no guarantee that I'll get my place back, though. But then nobody at this club is guaranteed their place in their next game. I'm certainly not taking it for granted but, hopefully, I'll play, that's all I can say." Wotton admitted that his style means he will always be at risk of suspensions. "It was frustrating just watching the lads (against Reading), but that's part of football, I'm afraid," he said. "Unfortunately, being the type of player that I am, the suspensions are going to come. But maybe if I keep my mouth shut a bit more, then I won't get suspended." Wotton believes that under Tony Pulis, Argyle are becoming more difficult to beat. "We're coming on as a team, picking up little things and we're working hard off the pitch as well as on it," he added. "We know what the gaffer wants from us and we're trying to put his plans for us into practice. It was hard work training with Scott Dann for example, but if it helps us move the club forward, then that's alright with me."
Argyle are waiting for injury news on Bojan Djordjic ahead of Saturdays trip to Coventry. Djordjic sustained a hamstring injury during Tuesdays reserve game and had to be substituted. "He's feeling his hamstring," Geoff Crudgington said. "We'll have to wait for a couple of days and see how he is." The reserve's lost to Bristol Rovers' second team, despite fielding nine men with first-team experience this season, but Crudgington does not believe that the result should be given much importance. "It's always a question mark whether reserve games are a preparation for first-team games," he said. "They're primarily fitness exercises. You can do as much fitness work in training with them as you like, but as soon as you play in a game that little bit of intensity and competition makes it a bit different."
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