A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle put the disappointment of their first pre-season friendly defeat behind them to bounce back with a confident 1-0 win at Truro City last night. Jermaine Easter's first-half strike, following a fine pass from captain Rory Fallon, was one of the features that most satisfied assistant-manager Kevin Summerfield, who took charge of the team while manager Paul Sturrock watched from the Treyew Road terraces. "There were some pleasing aspects to the game," Summerfield said. "Easty got his first goal; we got a little bit more out of Dan Smith; and I thought the young lads, particularly, did well. It was a decent night." Team: Stack, White, Hodgkinson, Doumbe, Brett, Bolasie, Folly, McCaul, Smith, Easter, Fallon.
Paul Sturrock has admitted he has lots of 'food for thought' as the new Championship campaign draws closer. One of the manager's main decisions before then will be which formation to use. Sturrock has been experimenting with a 4-3-3 system during training and games in pre-season, but he clearly has doubts whether he has the players at the club to implement the formation properly, and has hinted he could revert to 4-4-2. He said: "We have had a look at this system (4-3-3) now over two or three games and I'm reasonably happy we could change to it if need be. I have got a lot of food for thought over the next couple of days, generally, on how we are going to start the season. The 4-3-3 system is difficult when you are forcing people to be passers when they are not passers. You need people who are comfortable taking the ball when they have got their back to players. Unless you have the right concoction, it's a real difficult one."
Dundee United will visit Home Park on Saturday for Argyle's penultimate pre-season friendly. That will see Paul Sturrock come up against the club he served with such distinction, first as a player, then a coach and later as the manager. Dundee United are expecting up to 500 fans to make the long journey down from Scotland to Devon for the game. They are keen to pay tribute to Sturrock, who is one of their greatest heroes.
A lacklustre Argyle side slipped to their first pre-season defeat last night, beaten 1-0 at Yeovil. Team: Larrieu, McNamee, Timar, Seip, Paterson (Folly), Summerfield, Duguid (Doumbe), Clark (Easter), Puncheon, MacLean (Fallon), Mackie. After the game, Paul Sturrock accused his side of a 'lack of honesty'. An angry Sturrock had stern words for his players. He said: "I think Plymouth Argyle have been under me, and the managers before me, an honest team. "I don't think we were honest this evening." Argyle had arrived late at Huish Park, after their coach was held up by a road accident in Somerset, but Sturrock did not use that as an excuse. He said: "Too many people probably felt heavy-legged and training had caught up with them. We didn't come out of the traps in any form, and we let them dictate the pace of the game. There were certain people there who, when we had the ball, didn't do the right things, and there were certain people there who, when they had the ball, definitely didn't do the right things. It was just a recipe for disaster, but there are no excuses". Luggy added, "It would be very easy for me to say we were late back from Austria at four o'clock on Sunday morning, or that we had worked hard in the last two days and, all of a sudden, people were not feeling right. But, in the end, it was a pre-season game where you should push yourself, and I don't think too many of them really got to the pace. I was going to give them the day off, but they are going to be in now."
Argyle will send another side to play newly-promoted Southern League club Truro City at Treyew Road tonight (7.30pm).
Paul Sturrock has spoken more about his exasperation at his lack of success in the transfer market this summer. He has added five new players to his squad, but wants 'four or five' more, and the new Championship season starts on Saturday week. He said: "I'm actually fed up now of mentioning transfers. I get asked the same questions all the time and I have to give them the same answers. I was hoping the 22 players I wanted at this football club would all be here for the pre-season training, but, not counting the young boys, we are sitting here with a squad of 17. Until, those four or five others in key areas come, confidence could be eroded very quickly. We have really got to try to push ahead now." Sturrock added: "From the day after the final game of last season, I can assure every fan we have been searching for players. It just seems to be every time I go for a player I lose him for all sorts of reasons. It has just been so frustrating. And, in the end, these players deserve the competition for places."
Argyle have released their shirt numbers for the new campaign. The only different number from last season is Jermaine Easter, who will now wear 10, having previously worn 36. Greens on Screen's Squad and Appearances pages have the full details.
Paul Sturrock has insisted that he will continue as Argyle manager, despite the revelation that he is suffering from Parkinson's Disease. Sturrock yesterday revealed that he was diagnosed with a mild form of the condition in 2000, and lived with the secret until yesterday lunchtime, when he decided to speak openly about his illness at a press conference. Not even Paul Stapleton knew that Sturrock was suffering from the illness. Sturrock said: "I really feel like I have got a weight taken off my shoulders." Sturrock has walked with noticeable difficulty since returning to Argyle last November and had attributed that to an Achilles tendon problem, but yesterday confirmed the real reason. "It will not affect my ability to manage this football club in any form at all," he said. "It's a mild form of Parkinson's Disease and through the consultants and through the tablets I have never really had a problem with it. But, obviously, with this walking thing now, I thought the time had come to tell people about it. I don't like telling lies. I didn't want to mislead anyone, so I thought it was appropriate to do it now, before the season starts. I think I have had a fairly successful career over the last eight years, and it has never hindered my ability to manage any of the football clubs I have been at. I have never felt it needed to be discussed until this time, because obviously I have got a slight walking deficiency. Lots of people have commented on it, and rumoured on it, so I thought it was time to talk about it. I have got a slight tremor on my left side and a flicker with my foot. But, at the end of the day, you don't die from Parkinson's Disease. It's a degenerative disease, but I have been made aware by the specialist they are finding new tablets every day. They are very, very hopeful, sooner than later, they will have a cure for it." Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley knew about his illness, as did the doctors at all four clubs. Sturrock added: "It has never affected my job. The tablets keep it under very good control. It's only now and then when I forget to take my tablets that you see any tremor. There are all sorts of tablets you can take. They have a masking effect. At this minute, I'm on very mild tablets as far as the illness is concerned. As the specialist has told me, it's a bog-standard version. It can be quite scary to watch some people who have Parkinson's Disease, but I don't have that kind of problem. I will stand by the success I have had as a manager so far, and I think it will continue."
Paul Sturrock has admitted to a growing sense of frustration in his quest to add more players to the squad. "The frustrating thing is we keep battering our heads against a brick wall as far as players are concerned," he said. "I have had a couple of set-backs but that is football. We can't go charging in, start to panic and bring in two or three new boys that don't fit into what we are trying to achieve." The pleasing thing for Sturrock and his scouting network is the support they have received from the board. "No football manager gets told what they can spend down to the penny," he said. "The board have not in any way shot me down in flames in terms of the players I have tried to bring in - they are receptive to the type of players I am trying to bring to the football club. In this day and age where payments of transfer fees are all staged with dated payments and dependent on games played, it is very difficult for anybody to have a clear picture of how much we have in the kitty. We need a certain style at the club, which cuts down your field of selection. We have no time now to be experimenting. If we are going to bring players in now, they need to be able to fit right into the team." Versatility will be a key attribute required by any new addition to the squad, with Sturrock determined to instil flexibility in terms of team formation. "We have looked at a certain system change, which we have done quite well with," he said. "The players have responded very well to what they have been asked to do. We have to ensure we can bring players to the football who can adapt to both systems." The next test will be a trip to face Yeovil Town tonight followed 24 hours later by a visit to Truro City. Sturrock added: "Tuesday and Wednesday will be a mixture," he said. "I will play an 11 with back-up, and then play another 11 with back-up. I would imagine the team for Yeovil game will be slightly stronger than the one at Truro. It is very hard out there on the training ground, which has caused a couple of wee niggling knocks, so I am hoping for a wet week to soften things up. We have got one boy with a niggling knock that we are hoping will calm down."
Ashley Barnes has been put on standby for the Austrian Under-20 squad's match against Switzerland next month. He owes his international call-up to his Grandmother, his agent, and to his own work-rate on the recent training camp in Austria. "My Nan - my dad's mother - is Austrian," he said, "although she lives with Mum and Dad in Bath now. When I signed with my current agent, he informed the Austrians' that I was eligible to play for them. They didn't manage to get over to see me play in England, but they watched a couple of the recent training sessions in Austria and liked what they saw." Barnes will need to wait until nearer the time of the friendly, on August 19th, to find out whether he has made it into the final squad and he added: "I've taken a bit of stick for it already, but that's okay."
Paul Sturrock has revealed that he is suffering from Parkinson's Disease. He has been affected by a mild version of the progressive neurological condition for about eight years, and said: "I want people to know about this now. I don't want sympathy, I don't want people feeling sorry for me - I just thought that this was the right time to bring things out into the open. It's an illness, yes, but one that I am perfectly comfortable with. It is not a severe form by any means. It doesn't really affect me, unless I forget to take a tablet, and then I just get a few tremors in my hand or my leg. It will not affect the way I go about my job. There's plenty of life in the old dog yet. Thousands of people live and work with Parkinson's and I will be one of them. I have got by for the last eight years and I have felt fine. I have had many talks with the medical people and I am quite content with what they have told me."
Paul Sturrock has some gaps to fill in his squad, but has the comfort of knowing that he has two experienced and competent goalkeepers at his disposal. Romain Larrieu has been joined at the club by Graham Stack and when asked how he felt about Stack's displays so far, Sturrock replied: "There are bits and pieces of his game I want to develop, but I've been pleased with him. I think Romain has looked very competent as well, so it's going to be a difficult choice there." The two 'keepers will continue to share the pre-season workload until Sturrock makes his decision about which one is going to start the season. "It's only appropriate that I continue to give them 90-minute run-outs," he said. "You can't build up your confidence and your eye for crosses in 45 minutes. One of them will play on Tuesday, the other one will play on Wednesday, and then I'll decide who plays on Saturday."
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle's pre-season training camp in Austria has fostered a good team spirit between the players. He said: "The team spirit has been fine. They're a bunch of hard-working people, and they seem to be friendly together. We still have to get a couple of loud-mouths in, but hopefully we'll get there." Despite all the rain while they were in Obertraun, Sturrock insisted it had not put a dampener on the trip. "The weather meant we trained better," he said. "There was a bit more zip to us."
Karl Duguid is ready to play anywhere for Argyle. Duguid was signed as a right-back by Paul Sturrock but the arrival of David McNamee means Duguid could be used in a midfield holding role as Sturrock experiments with a 4-3-3 system. Duguid said: "I will be honest with you, I have probably only played in that position once or twice throughout my career. But I will play anywhere and give 100 per cent if I'm in the team. I think the gaffer did bring me in as a right-back, but it's another string to my bow. I enjoyed it there against Alba Iulia. You get a lot of the ball." Duguid cannot wait to start a new chapter in his career, after spending 14 years with Colchester. He said: "My fitness feels good, although it was tough on Friday because it was so hot. No matter how much running you do, or how many pre-season matches you play, the first four or five games are always hard. But you have got to get a base ready for the start of the season, and I think we have got that." Duguid is one of five new Argyle recruits signed by Sturrock this summer, and he added: "I have always been used to welcoming people to a football club, but it has been the other way around for me this time. They are a great bunch of lads, which I think is pretty much the same wherever you go, and the banter is good. Everyone gets on really well and the staff are great, which is very important. It has been good. I have settled in very well, as have the other players who have come to the football club." The squad returned to Plymouth late on Saturday from their pre-season training camp in Obertraun. Duguid said: "The facilities there were superb. They looked after us really well and everything we needed was there. It was a tough week, but the lads have got through it." There was persistent rain while the team were in Austria but it did not disrupt their training too much. Duguid said: "Obviously, you come away to work hard, and that's what we have done. We were doing three sessions a day. We had one afternoon off on the Wednesday but it was raining so there wasn't much to do. The lads were bored and they wanted to go and train, I think."
Argyle's under 18's lost 2-0 Liverpool, the goals cored by Joe Mason and Josh Grant
Paul Sturrock was pleased with his side's 2-0 win over Unicea Alba Iucia yesterday. He said: "They are bedding down that new system and I think that they thought it out as they went along. It was a difficult game with the weather; it's been very different in the training sessions. A lot of them didn't play in the first game so they looked a bit leg weary in the game - they left that zip on the training ground and I was looking for that sharpness. But overall, it was a good result." Sturrock had hinted that his team was going to be made up of some of the more experienced players in the squad but Damien McCrory's name was again amongst the subs and Sturrock said that he was definitely keeping an eye on him. He said: "Well he scored a goal and at the end of the day you've got to give him the confidence of not dropping him out again. I feel that he's got attributes that will be of great benefits to the team. He's not quite ready for that step yet but we'll be giving me bits and pieces to try and make sure he becomes a good player." Argyle's next outing will be at Yeovil Town on Tuesday and Sturrock is hoping to name a strong side but wasn't ruling out featuring new players. He said: "I've got to try and get a settled team now to get them ready for the start of the season but I will be very much looking to name a strongish team. There will be no trialists because they've slapped me in the face a bit but there might be if we buy. We are interested in a whole load of players but getting them is a whole different kettle of fish."
Krisztian Timar yesterday cleared the first hurdle on the road to recovery from a serious head injury. Paul Sturrock said: "I thought Krisztian was solid enough, but I think he's going to need a whole load more games before he's up to speed. If you ask Krisztian, he will say he will be ready for the first game of the season. But, at the end of the day, it will be a decision on how he develops from now. This thing he has on makes him head the ball funny because it catches the edges." Argyle tried out a 4-3-3 formation for the second time in match conditions last night, and Sturrock said: "It looks as if it might work if we can just put other personnel in some of the positions." However, it was only when Jermaine Easter came on as a substitute and Argyle went 4-4-2 that they scored both of their goals. Sturrock added: "That sometimes happens when you do a system change. You catch the opposition out." Easter was sent on for Jason Puncheon, who was suffering from a back strain. Sturrock said: "I took him off as a precaution, but he has got to get to the pace of the game the way we want to play it. He's having to jump two leagues so it's not going to happen overnight for him." Rory Fallon has been sidelined by a groin injury and is unlikely to feature in either of the games against Yeovil Town and Truro City next week
Steve MacLean was pleased with the part he played in yesterday's win. He said: "It was nice to get a goal but first and foremost it was a good 90 minutes for the team. I thought we played some good stuff and I hope it goes well for the start of the season. Hopefully next season the team can do well and we can better on our finish last year but on a personal note, I really want to do well, help the team do well and get a few goals along the way."
Argyle's under-18's lost 5-1 to Manchester City yesterday, the goal scored by Joe Mason. Mike Pejic was not pleased with the second-half performance of his more senior players and said: "Overall it was a good workout and a great experience, but some of the second-year lads will have to start looking over their shoulders as their second-half attitude was poor."
Argyle won 2-0 in this afternoons friendly against Unirea Alba Iucia, the goals scored by Steve MacLean and Luke Summerfield. Argyle: Stack, McNamee, Seip, Timar, Sawyer, Clark, Duguid, Summerfield, MacLean, Mackie, Puncheon. Subs - Doumbe, McCrory, Easter (not used - Paterson, Folly, Larrieu)
Argyle's opponents for their final tour match in Austria have changed again. They will now play Romanian side Unirea Alba Iulia in Laufen this afternoon
Paul Sturrock has spoken of his frustration at failing to add any new signings to his squad this week. He said: "I'm very frustrated we haven't added anybody to the squad this week. We have been so close, yet so far. We always seem to pick one whose wife is pregnant, or he doesn't want to leave the area he's in for some reason. We have had all that kind of thing. I would love to have a minimum of two players in before the Dundee United game. And when I get back on Monday, I will just be all guns blazing trying to get that done." Sturrock admitted the wage demands of some of his transfer targets had been a problem. He said: "There are a few who are hanging out for the 'lucky bag', which they are not going to get from us. There will come a time where other clubs will have picked up their players and leave these boys in limbo-land. The power then comes back to me."
Paul Sturrock expects Petrolul Ploiesti to provide strong opposition for Argyle tonight. He said: "Last pre-season, when I was at Swindon, we played Jiul Petrosani and it was a real tussle. "They kept the ball very well, and I don't envisage this lot playing any differently. It will be a difficult game for us." Sturrock will decide today if Krisztian Timar is to play any part in the game, and said: "Today has been the first time he has used his new mask, and it has been the first time he has headed the ball properly. It all depends on him. He definitely looked tentative, but I will let the medical staff decide on him. We're also worried he might be coming back from his groin strain too early. If he doesn't play, Mat Doumbe will play." Steve MacLean is likely to take over from Rory Fallon, who is nursing a groin injury and did not train yesterday, as the central striker. "Steve has played up there on his own in the past, but normally he has played with a big boy," added Sturrock. "We asked him to do a job last year that, I think, seeped him of confidence around the goal. Steve lives off scoring goals, and there were aspects of his game which disappointed me last season. But he's looking much better now, much more like himself."
Paul Sturrock and his coaching staff will be talking tactics for the rest of their training camp in Austria. "I've got two days of training and two days to have discussions with my staff about this 4-3-3 system," he said yesterday. "I'd like to see if we can tweak it a wee bit more and refine it a wee bit more. We seem to go through phases. We had the 3-5-2 scenario for a while, and then we had the diamond midfield. I honestly believe you have to look at your players and see what system suits your players. That's why I've had a look at another system, just to see if we have the players who can handle it." Asked to describe the qualities the centre-forward in a 4-3-3 needs to have, Sturrock replied: "The boy Koller, who plays for the Czech Republic, is ideal, or you need a very cute linkage player. Somebody who can take the ball, hold it, and feed it to the team. It's good to have pace either side of that player, and somebody who is prepared to run beyond him. You can simplify everybody's game, because they all have a certain job to do." The other key position is that of the central midfield player and Sturrock added: "He is probably the most important player in the whole system, he has to go on the ball and make some passes." Flavien Belson and Yoann Folly had taken it in turns to do the job on Tuesday and Sturrock said: "In the first half, we just lumped it to Rory. In the second half, Yoann got more of the ball and we were able to link up with our wingers. They're key players in the system too. It's a system that people like playing, and it means that your back four is left very solid. It's very adaptable, because you can play two central midfielders and one off the front. 4-2-1-3 instead of 4-1-2-3. You can change between the two very quickly." Sturrock's squad will put into practice what they have been working on tonight. "I'm pleased that the venue will be Laufen again, because it's a nice pitch there," he said. "It doesn't look as if it takes too much water." Sturrock also reflected on other aspects of the trip. He said: "The boys are looking far sharper than when we first turned up, there is an edge to them now, they are looking quite strong and their fitness levels are high, so they are all pluses for the trip. The only minus is that the weather has curtailed the trips and activities we had planned in terms of team bonding but we will just have to do that when we get home." Sturrock was giving nothing away regarding who he might play against Petrolul tonight. He said: "I have got to make a decision on certain individual players just to see them in the system but it is food for thought now, so I will take a couple of hours to have a look at it. Rory has tweaked his groin and Romain is not feeling the best either in his thigh area and calf, so we'll take them out and rest them. Krizstian has trained today, so I'm very hopeful that we'll play a bit-part in the game on Friday. If not he will defiantly play on Tuesday against Yeovil."
Krisztian Timar is ready to raise a family in Plymouth after agreeing a new three-year contract with Argyle. Timar has revealed his wife, Dorisz, is expecting their first child in November and he said: "Me and my wife are very happy. She's pregnant now and we are planning to be in Plymouth in the next few years. I'm very happy with my new contract. Hopefully, this season we can keep improving that's why I want to stay here. Every year we are closer and closer to the play-offs, and that's why I want to stay here." Timar has sat out training for the past couple of days because of a groin strain but could play some part of the game against Petrolul tomorrow. He added: "I'm getting better. I have had a little groin problem, but I think it's just tiredness. My forehead is absolutely fine. I really don't want to wear a head guard, but I have to. I will wear it for the next two weeks and after I can play without it."
Argyle are holding a pre-season training camp in Obertraun for the third time in six years and the only player to have made the trip on each occasion is Romain Larrieu. He said: "It's a really brilliant place because you are walking distance from the football pitch, the gym everything. It's a great place to work, plus it's very quiet so there is nothing else to think about apart from football, which is good as well." The weather this week has been poor but Larrieu has no complaints about the conditions. He said: "You don't mind that when you are working hard. We get enough rain in England as it is, but when the sun is out here it gets really, really hot, so it's not a problem if there are a few clouds. I think Sloop stopped the session on Sunday because he'd had enough of the rain, which is saying something for a Scotsman!" Larrieu and Mathias Doumbe are the only two members of the current squad who visited Obertraun in 2004 and Larrieu added: "I think the higher you go up the league, you find the playing staff turns over more quickly. It's true for every club, it's not just us. People don't stay about for too long if they are not playing and they have got an opportunity to go somewhere else. But I think we are working as hard as we did the last time we were here, and we have a completely different team."
Pre-season tours are a whole new experience for Shane White, Damien McCrory and Ben Gerring and they know that this season will be an important one in their overall development as footballers. Damien McCrory did his reputation no harm when scoring Argyle's equaliser against Greuther Furth, and he said: "I was pleased when I came on and very pleased to get the equaliser. It was a run down the right wing, David McNamee got on the end of the ball and got a low driven cross and I was lucky enough to tap it in so I was really pleased." McCrory has had international experience with the Republic of Ireland under-18's and has no qualms on his aspirations for this season. He said: "I was away with the under-18s in Germany and we played them twice in two friendlies and I started them both so hopefully I'll be in the under-19s squad for this season. I want to make my debut this season. To come on off the bench, make a few appearances and if I train hard, it should all go well." Shane White also played yesterday and said: "I was very pleased with my overall performance, there are still bits of my game I could improve on but I think I did okay." White was awarded the Young Player of the Year award last season, having captained the Argyle Youth side to a cup quarter final and he believes it was the team spirit that got them so far. He said: "We had a good team really with a good bunch of lads who got on well and just took it onto the pitch. We unfortunately got beaten by Manchester City in the quarter finals." Like McCrory, White knows exactly what he wants from this season. "I just want try to and break into the first team as quickly as possible, and just take it from there," he said. Unlike White and McCrory, Ben Gerring was not scheduled to come on the tour until last week. "I was shocked to say the least," he said. "With the amount of centre halves they had, I didn't think they would take any from the youth team. But I think it was a day before the squad left, I was called into the gaffer's office and I was over the moon to find out." Gerring did not feature against Furth having picked up an injury in training. He added: "The first couple of days were brilliant getting involved with the lads but then obviously got stopped a bit with the injury. I took a knock on the knee, in a training game down at Harpers, landed awkwardly and took it into the Austria trip and its got worse ever since. It got to the stage on Monday where we just had to knock it on the head. So now it's just about recovering - 7-10 days and hopefully I'll see a bit more of pre-season."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Greuther Furth in yesterdays friendly, the goal scored by Damien McCrory in the 77th minute.The team included trialists Flavien Belson, Nebojsa Kovacevic and Leandre Griffit. Argyle: Larrieu, McNamee, White, Doumbe, Paterson, Kovacevic, Belson, Folly, Griffit, Fallon, Smith. Subs Bolasie, Barnes, McCrory (not used Stack)
Paul Sturrock seems unlikely to pursue any interest in the three trialists who played against Greuther Furth last night. He said: "I thought they had competent performances but they are not better than the players at the football club. I was committed up to this game to looking at any players that were recommended to me. They will be the last trialists, unless something comes out and slaps me in the face. The wee nuggets are drying up in this day and age, and now I have got to try to bring some players to the football club who will go straight into my first team." Sturrock was impressed though, by last nights goalscorer Damien McCrory, and added: "There of lot of names being bandied about of players who may be able to make names for themselves at this football club, but the boy McCrory has a real chance. He was so positive. I was excited with Yala Bolasie when he came on, as well. He gave it a wee bit of zest. Yoann Folly, when he went back into central midfield as the playmaker, looked a much better player. David McNamee had a very solid game as well, and Mat Doumbe did very well."
Paul Sturrock was very pleased with the performance of his young side as they drew with Greuther Furth last night. He said: "Well obviously we had trialists and two or three young boys and the trouble was that nobody knew each other first half. I think because of that the shape wasn't right and there was no understanding but in the second half I think we played very well and we got in the right areas of the pitch and to be fair, we could have maybe scored a couple more. It was a deflected goal, other than that I think Ro only had one other save in the first half but we're playing a system now where we're giving a wee bit extra thought to it. Now we've seen it live in battle conditions we can plan ahead." Sturrock was also full of praise for Argyle's German opposition who he thinks will be very successful this season. He said: "Furth were very organised. They are going to win a lot of games with the way they play their game. They are very fit team, they pressed for the ball when we had it, when they had it they were very sharp." Argyle next play Petrolul Ploiesti in Laufen on Friday and Sturrock added: "The work we'll do now Wednesday, Thursday, Friday morning will be for the other team because I've got the other ten boys who want to play. It gives me an outlet from training now because I've seen the system live the way we want it to play and it gives me a wee chance to change things in the week."
Argyle's second game in Austria will now be against Romanian side Petrolul Ploiesti and will again be staged at Laufen in Germany
Yala Bolasie wants to make the most of his opportunity at Argyle, after a far from orthodox start to his career. He said: "I was at Rushden & Diamonds at 16, playing in the youth team for four or five months, then I moved on to play non-League football for Hillingdon Borough. " He then joined Floriana in Malta and when asked how that opportunity had come about, he said: "I was scouted, and my agent sorted it for me. I flew over to Malta and did well at a trial. They only accept three foreigners in Malta, so I was battling with other players to get in the team. I was chosen, and I signed a two-year contract with an option of a third year. Their league football is good. There are players who have played professionally in Germany, Brazil and Argentina and countries like that, and other players have moved on from Malta to big clubs. A mate of mine from another team in Malta has just signed a five-year contract with Dynamo Kiev. People think it's easy to play in Malta, but it's actually hard. It's really hot and you have to play in the middle of the day sometimes. It's ridiculous sometimes, but I just got on with it." A tip from an Argyle fan living in Malta alerted the club to Bolasie, but he also had trials this summer with Sturm Graz and Liechtenstein's Vaduz. "I was at Sturm Graz and they offered me a contract, but we didn't agree personal terms," he added. "I was at Vaduz and I thought I did well, but I don't know what happened there. I had Hoffenheim, a team who have just been promoted to the Bundesliga in Germany, chasing me as well, but I didn't go there for a trial. They came to watch me in Malta a couple of times and they said they wanted me to go over to Germany, but they never set a date and Plymouth came in for me, so I decided I would come back to England and show what I can do. That was always what I wanted to do." Argyle's coaching staff and players have made him feel very welcome and he added: "The players are great. Everything is great, the coaches are always teaching me stuff and I'm always willing to learn. I hope to go far with these coaches. I've enjoyed playing in the friendlies, but I think I still need to adapt a little bit. When I adapt, I think I'll become more of a threat to the first team." Asked about Paul Sturrock's description of him as a development player, he replied: "I'm happy with that. I know what he's saying. I'm willing to do it his way, because he will make me a better player. I know I need to learn defensive duties and to get used to the shape of the team, and I need to work on my crossing, but I don't think much else is wrong. I can score goals." As well as a playing as a winger, Bolasie has been given more central roles. "I've played through the middle, behind the striker," he said. "I prefer being a winger, but if the coaches want me to play as a centre-forward which was what Sturm Graz wanted to do then there wouldn't be a problem. My agent told me I'd probably be in Malta for one year and then I'd be moving on, which has happened. Now it's up to me."
Argyle today issued the following statement: "Plymouth Argyle have today cancelled the contract of goalkeeper Luke McCormick by mutual consent. The club will be making no further comment on the matter."
Krisztian Timar has confirmed he is very close to signing a new deal with Argyle. "The two parties are very close to each other but we have to talk once and I think everything will be fine," he said. Timar also remains hopeful of being fit for Argyle's season-opener against Wolves. He said: "I want to play against Wolves so I will be there. It is better than we thought before. I head everyday if somebody throws the ball to me but, hopefully, I will soon start heading when somebody kicks the ball, then after that one against one, with someone stood in front of me then, maybe, hopefully, I will be ready for the start of the season. I have a head-guard but I don't like it. It is just for protection but sometimes it slips and bothers me a little bit. I think I don't need it because my skull is recovered and how I feel when I head the ball is absolutely spot on. I would like to play as soon as possible. Maxi and the doctor say I have to be careful. They are just worried about me but I said they don't need to worry. Maybe they are more scared than me. I have told Maxi and the doctor that if I feel any small pain I'll stop but at the moment there is nothing."
Paul Sturrock has spoken of his delight that Krisztian Timar has accepted a new deal with the club. "I am very pleased," he said. "He is a very important player to us and it is very good to have this sorted out at this stage of the pre-season. I know how popular Kris is with our supporters and they will be delighted he has shown this commitment to the club. He came on in leaps and bounds last season and is a vastly improved player to the one who arrived at Home Park a year and a half ago. The good thing is that I feel there is more to come from him, even more that he can add to his game, which is very pleasing."
Krisztian Timar has agreed a new three-year contract with Argyle and will sign the paperwork after he returns from Austria. The contract will also include an option for a fourth year in 2011/12
Romain Larrieu has been given the all-clear by doctors after his second set of treatment for cancer. He was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in the summer of 2006 and had a recurrence of the problem in January this year which required further treatment. He said: "I'm enjoying myself, and I have had a great boost because the doctors at the hospital have told me I'm cured. There is only a one or two percent chance of a recurrence now. The treatment I have had in the last six months has worked so it has been great news for me and my family, obviously. To know that has just taken a big weight off my shoulders and it makes me even more eager to get back in the team." Larrieu has made just 21 league appearances over the past two seasons. He said: "I have had two difficult years because of the two problems I have had, and football isn't really important when you are talking about cancer. But I still managed to play over 40 games in those two years." When Larrieu was on loan at Gillingham in 2007, he trained with Argyle for most of the time but travelled to Kent and across the country for all their games. He said: "It wasn't the easiest thing to do, but I'm glad I did it. Now I look back and I don't feel like those two years have been completely wasted as far as my career is concerned." Larrieu will have a routine check-up in six months. He said: "The tumour they were fighting has gone now and the treatment has been completed. I could have had that treatment straight after the first problem. But they told me because I was fit I should just carry on, and there was only a 15 per cent chance it would come back. It did come back, which was unlucky, but I do believe I will be all right now." Larrieu was given the all-clear by the doctors a couple of days after the start of pre-season training and he added: "I didn't want to do pre-season for nothing. We planned it so that if there was a problem they would tell me before, so I didn't have to run for nothing!" Larrieu has played 45 minutes in the pre-season friendlies so far but said: "I had a little niggle in my groin and that's why I didn't play in the second half. But I have trained here for the last two days and I haven't felt anything."
Tonight's friendly with Greuther Furth has been moved again - this time to Laufen in Germany. The match was originally due to be played in Bischofshofsen, but was switched to Leogang after heavy rain-fall. Leogang has now suffered the same fate
Nebojsa Kovacevic, a Slovenian midfielder and Flavien Belson, a French midfielder, are the two new trialists at Argyle's training camp in Austria. Belson plays for top flight club Metz whilst Kovacevic played for his team ND Gorica in their opening game of the new Slovenian season on Sunday. He then travelled by car to Austria yesterday but arrived too late for the afternoon training session. Both are set to take part in this morning's session and play in tonights friendly. Argyle will also include Leandre Griffit in the side, and possibly a fourth trialist, thought to be a German centre-back
Paul Sturrock is set to bring in two unnamed trialists for the game against Greuther Furth tonight. The trialists, who are both central midfielders, joined the squad on Monday afternoon, trained with the team in the evening and are expected join Leandre Griffits in the starting 11 on Tuesday. Sturrock said: "It's going to be a younger team with a few trialists against a team that's supposed to be flying and are amongst the favourites to win promotion. Leandre Griffits is already here, he's a winger but the other two trialists are central midfield players and I am very hopeful they will adapt and we might get a couple of decent players out of it. Both are based on the continent and I'm going to have a look at them. Lala will also get his first run out. As well as the trialists Sturrock also revealed that he is working very hard to try and bring a few more new faces to the club. He added: "I've got so many fingers in pies at the moment that I'm forgetting their names - I can't spell some of them either! I'm always on the phone, haggling with agents, haggling with clubs and I'm still very committed to bringing three or four players to the football club. How long the time span is, is the difficult one. I don't want to be rushed because then you make mistakes but I don't want to have a gun held to my head either so it's a slow, slow process." Argyle have now been in Austria for 48 hours and so far, Sturrock is pleased with the work accomplished. He said: "I'm happy that the fitness of the players is getting better and I'm happy that injury levels have not been too severe. The weight training sessions seem to be going very well and the last three days, the ball work has went very well so I was quite pleased with that and the energy levels of the player has been good." Although the opposition for Friday's match is still unclear, Sturrock has already planned his side for the game. He said: "We've done a lot of work on the training ground and there is a lot of changes I would like to make so the settled team will go out on Friday with the work we've done in the week."
Yala Bolasie has hailed the coaching staff at Argyle and has said that they will help to find the best in him. He said: "I'm working with a great bunch of managers so I'm looking forward to that because I know whatever they do is for the better of me. I want to try and get in the squad although I know it isn't going happen for now. But I'm going to keep working hard and then if my chance comes, my chances comes and I'll take it. It's a great opportunity - I'm working with some great managers and a great bunch of lads so everything is good." Since his arrival, Yala has been addressed as 'La-la' by his team mates. "My name is Yanick Bolasie" he explained. "But everyone knows me as La-la. It came from Andy King, the chief scout - he nicknamed me that the first day I came and he told everyone my name was La-la."
Argyle are one of three clubs, along with Burnley and Crystal Palace, reported to be showing an interest in signing Coventry City striker Kevin Kyle
Paul Sturrock hopes to add new recruits to his squad while they are at their training camp in Austria this week. He is aiming to step up his pursuit of a couple of transfer targets and two trialists are also set to play in the friendly against Greuther Furth tomorrow. One of them is former France under-21 international midfielder Leandre Griffit, who trained with Argyle in Obertraun yesterday. Griffit was at Southampton with Sturrock in 2004. However, Sturrock's interest in Sunderland Russell Anderson has ended. It is thought the transfer fee and wages for Anderson were prohibitive for the the club. Asked about his transfer activity, Sturrock said: "It's all on-going. We are trying to pressurise a couple of football clubs and agents into making decisions. We would like them to be here this week and we will work away at that." Griffit, who has been playing in Sweden for top IF Elfsborg, is someone Sturrock knows well. He said: "Leandre is here for the game against Greuther Furth on Tuesday. He has been playing in Sweden and he was under me at Southampton. He was an exciting youngster who seemed to have lost his way a wee bit and I just want to have a look at him. I had to look at him yesterday to make sure he was okay fitness-wise. He's going to play on Tuesday night, probably the whole 90 minutes."
Argyle's game against FC Nuremberg in Kaprun on Friday has been cancelled for reasons currently unknown. Argyle and their tour organisers are now trying to arrange a fixture against alternative opposition for the same evening
Argyle's game tomorrow against Greuther Furth has been moved due to a water-logged pitch at Bischofshofen. The new venue is Leogang
Paul Sturrock admitted he learned a valuable lesson from Argyle's friendly against Kidderminster Harriers on Friday. Sturrock played two trialists French centre-back Andreas Manga and Argentine midfielder Fernando Screpis and said: "We looked a bit sluggish and a bit stodgy from the start. We had a player on Friday who was nowhere near the standard to be playing in that kind of game. It set the tone for the rest of the night as far as the other players were concerned." Neither Manga nor Screpis had trained with Argyle before the game, which Sturrock admitted was a mistake in hindsight. "At the end of the day, fore-armed is fore-warned," he said. "I will now bring players in and have them training with us for two or three days before I let them loose in games. I can then know what the story is. I thought the midfield player was very competent. He was a good footballer but didn't look fit. I don't think he has had a pre-season yet, but he definitely showed signs of quality. He could see a pass, he was a big boy and put his foot in and I was pleased with him as far as his standard was concerned. But the disappointing thing for me was the whole shape of the team was upset in the first five minutes of the game, when mistakes were made." Sturrock admitted he wanted to add two central midfielders to his squad, but did not believe Screpis was a solution. He said: "We have got to find the right two. There is no point getting somebody who isn't the standard we are looking for. I have got to be near enough dead certain on the two boys I'm going to play in there. Although the midfielder is a good footballer, I'm beginning to believe that unless they are a high, high standard from abroad, I'm going to have to invest in British."
Graham Stack is prepared to battle it out with Romain Larrieu to be Argyle's first-choice goalkeeper. He said: "I'm looking forward to it. I have been very fortunate I have worked with a lot of good keepers since I came through the ranks at Arsenal. Obviously, with Romain's experience, I'm sure there are one or two things I can pick up off him. He seems like a really, nice guy with a good work ethic. As goalkeepers, you need to get on if you can. It makes it easier, but, believe you me, I have worked with goalkeepers I haven't got on great with. It's healthy to have competition because without competition you get sloppy, and I don't want to get sloppy. Having that there is always an added bonus. I'm hoping that I can push him and he can push me throughout the week and whoever plays on a Saturday, good luck to him. But that's out of my hands. Come the Saturday, if I'm not in the side I can't change any of that. I just want Plymouth Argyle to win as many games as possible. By having me involved would be far sweeter than not being involved, but we will have to wait and see. I'm going to do my utmost to make sure I get in the team, and be consistent and perform week-in week-out." Stack has spent much of his career as a back-up keeper, and added: "I did have talks with other Championship clubs over the summer. I'm not guaranteed first-team football here by any means, but I thought I had a better opportunity here. I have been slightly frustrated over the last three years. I had a full season at Millwall when I was 21, and I had a full season in Belgium. I came back to Arsenal and I was on the bench the season we went unbeaten. I was involved in Champions' League games and played in the UEFA Cup, and I miss all that. I did that years ago and I feel like I have gone off the radar. I want to put myself back on the map and the only way I'm going to do that is by playing games and as many as I can in a season. As I say, I'm just hoping this is the opportunity for me." Stack's league debut came against Argyle on the first day of the 2004/05 season when he was on loan to Millwall. He said: "I remember it was a boiling hot day, as it tends to be the first day of the season. It was a close game to be fair. We actually started off very well that season. We kept five clean sheets in the first six games, but we knew Plymouth was going to be a hard place to go. The fella Mickey Evans who played up front was a big handful. He certainly put himself about, and there were also the likes of Wotton and Coughlan as well. They were a very competitive side, and I have played there since with Leeds. We actually won there, one of the very few games we did win at Leeds! But they are always tough games at Home Park. As an away side, you have done a lot of travelling, and the fans are very much behind Plymouth because it's a one-club city. The spirit and the work ethic of Plymouth teams in the past has made it very difficult to play against them. I'm hoping that continues this season."
Paul Maxwell is optimistic ahead of the new season. Maxie has been working closely with the players throughout the summer and is confident that their fitness will be key on their road to success this season. He said: "It's great out here in Austria with the altitude and the facilities. We've come back out here and it's the final sort of stage, where they've done the majority of their hard work. It's a lot of ball work now and so it's just a case of getting them sharp for that first game. We've been doing the fitness obviously right through. They even had a program through the summer. Then since we've come back we've been putting the circuits on, focussing core stability work - trying to get their bodies used to the early morning starts. It was a really, really hard work today, we combined everything together, got everybody in there together to try and get a bit of spirit going but to be fair to them they were absolutely awesome this morning. To start a week away like that can only be good and if they are professional in what they do then that brings them together as well. They are all looking quite sharp, they all worked hard throughout the close season so from my point of view, it's looking good. We've just got to keep it up right until that first game. Let's hope it's the same for the rest of the trip." Although the preliminary aim of the tour is to put the finishing touches on fitness and touch, Maxie also stressed the importance of a good team spirit especially amongst the newer members of the team. He said: "A lot of the lads have gone, new lads are here and they seem great but if you can get the spirit of the team right then you are half way there really. They can have a laugh but as long as they know they are here to work and they work hard for that hour then I think that brings them a lot closer"
Paul Sturrock is a regular visitor to Obertraun and he hopes Argyle will reap the benefit of their third visit to the National Sports and Recreation Centre. He said: "It has everything you need. It has a swimming pool, tennis, table-tennis, a weights room and a sauna, nice facilities, the food is good and the training pitches are good. That says it all." Yesterday's work included a practice game which lasted for about 45 minutes, but the emphasis on team shape and tactics has not always been evident at this stage of previous pre-season tours. Sturrock explained: "We're having to do it, because some of the new players haven't really done this kind of work before. It's important we don't get caught out." Mat Doumbe and Jamie Mackie, who are nursing minor injuries, sat out the practice game but Krisztian Timar did take a full part in training. Karl Duguid was used in central midfield, rather than at right-back, and Sturrock said: "He played there today, and I'm going to have a look at him at left-back as well. Gary Sawyer is carrying a tight hamstring at the moment."
Rory Fallon has outlined the importance of fitness ahead of the start of the season. He said: "I think at this stage in the season you have to get as fit as you can and then anything is a bonus. Then with the training you've just got to work as hard as you can. Everybody had a heart rate monitor today and heart rate monitors don't lie so everybody has got to put it in. Today we did core stability and then one group was doing core whilst the other group was doing just weights. After that we did just normal football training then after training we jumped in the river!" Fallon also commented on the surroundings that the team are playing in. "It's my first time here, we went to Loipersdorf last time but I think I prefer it here," he said. "There are no distractions here. You just concentrate on your football amid fantastic scenery."
Paul Sturrock has decided not to follow up his interest in the two trialists who played against Kidderminster Harriers on Friday. They were French centre-back Andreas Manga and Argentine midfielder Fernando Screpis
Bristol Rovers first team coach Paul Trollope has confirmed the club have rejected two bids for defender Danny Coles from Argyle. He said: "We received a couple of offers from Plymouth that were not accepted. As far as we are concerned he's a big player for us, and is going to play a part in our future, and we don't want him to go anywhere. He's said he is happy here but, obviously, there is a part of him that wants to play in the Championship so it's up to us to persuade him that he can go there with us. The board have assured us that he doesn't have to be sold. We haven't received any fresh bids from Plymouth this week. Whether or not they make another bid is their business, but we want him to stay."
Graham Stack thinks Argyle's dressing room is a rather placid place and intends to do his best to change that state of affairs. He said: "Every successful team that I've played in has had a great team spirit. Getting that closeness really helps. There are a few new players here, and I think there will be a few more to come. It's a quiet dressing-room, one of the quietest I've been in, and I'd like to think I might change that! I might liven things up. Once we get to know another, we'll be fine, I'm sure." Stack has not been put off by Plymouth's remote location. "It's not an issue," he said. "I've spent a bit of time on the Barbican and round The Hoe. It's a lovely place. I was born in London and spent most of my life there, but I have travelled as well in my career. That distance was never an issue for me. I'm always prepared to travel, because football is my livelihood and I want to get on in the game." Stack is glad to be on board with Argyle, and added: "This is an ambitious club. They have plans to improve the stadium and bring players in, and they've improved their League position every year for the last five years. All that stood out for me, and the gaffer has a good record. I think it's going to be a tough season because we haven't got the biggest squad at the moment, but there are a lot of positives. Since I've been here, it's been a pleasure. They're a good bunch of lads, a hungry set of lads. There's a good work ethic, they're very determined to get on and do well." Stack made his first appearance for Argyle in the draw at Kidderminster and said: "It was good to get 90 minutes, and I was pleased with myself. It's all about getting your eye in and your reading of the game and taking up the right positions. I was pleased with my kicking and I made a couple of saves."
Paul Sturrock has said that he will be trialing some more players as he looks to add to his squad. He said: "We've got one or two players we're thinking of bringing in but at the end of the day, we have to be an honest hard working side. We've got sprinklings of flare players and we need someone in the engine room. Jamie did very well on Friday and Puncheon came on and made some important shots and crosses in the box. The front will take care of itself but the glaring thing is we need a bit more height. Our two tallest players were unavailable to us and we lost two headers so we're going to have to get some more players in who are going to be good in the air. This game is all about percentages and we've got to make sure that we're not losing goals like that."
Argyle drew 2-2 draw against Kidderminster in last nights friendly, both goals scored by Jamie Mackie. Two trialists played in the game, a centre-back and a midfielder, but Paul Sturrock did not diclose their identities. Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Seip, Trialist, Paterson, Mackie, Summerfield, Trialist, Clark, MacLean, Easter. Subs - Sawyer, McNamee, Puncheon (not used: Yoann Folly, Ashley Barnes, Dan Smith
Although initially signed as a striker, Paul Sturrock has preferred to play Jamie Mackie in a wide role towards the end of the last season and through this years pre-season matches and when asked where we would rather be playing, Mackie said: "Playing is my preference. I want to play as many games as I can. I'll play wherever he wants me to play but I want to score goals. Up front there is obviously the chance to do that but I think there are a lot of goals to be scored out wide. I work hard in the off season. I want to come back and I want to stake my place in the team so that I'm there on the first game of the season." Mackie scored both of Argyle's goals against Kidderminster last night, and both were headers. He said: "I have been working hard on my heading. I fancy myself in the air now because I've worked hard on it and I'm pleased that I have. Patter got forward well, put in some good balls in and you can say I hang out but I've learnt over the years that if you hang out, you might get one goal a season. But I attacked the inside post and there is a lot of goals there. Defenders watch the ball and go to sleep and that's your chance to get in there. Mackie added that he was looking forward to the pre-season tour and said: "I should imagine it'll be tough out there, it'll be hot but I think we'll feel the benefits from it and it's always nice to get away. I think we need to get a few of the lads getting the their big voices out of them so hopefully by the time we come back we'll have some of the bigger voices out ready for the new season. Stacky I think is a great signing - he's been at big clubs and he knows what winning is about. Duigy has played a lot of games so we have got experience and its time for those players to come to the fore. The young players in the changing room they looked around and they need to see those type of players."
Mathias Doumbe and Krisztian Timar are both expected to play in at least one of Argyle's pre-season friendlies in Austria next week. Paul Sturrock said: "Mat is building himself up and he should be okay for a game out in Austria. Timar is back heading the ball fully now and he looks confident. He will need protection on his forehead but he will probably get part of a game out in Austria as well."
Ben Gerring, a second year apprentice at Home Park, was among the players who left for the pre-season tour of Austria yesterday. Paul Sturrock was impressed by his performances against Tiverton Town and Weston-super-Mare last week and said: "The boy Gerring definitely benefited from playing. He can see a pass." Argyle's chief youth scout John James said: "There are similarities now that Ben has travelled with the first team squad while still only an apprentice. He can see a pass, which means he's creative as well as being a stopper centre-half. I think the club is expecting big things of him. Naturally I'm pleased, because it's another youngster from the Bay who has been given a chance and is dedicated enough to want to make the most of it."
Krisztian Timar is close to agreeing a new contract with Argyle, according to his agent Sam Stapleton. Stapleton said: "Negotiations with Krisztian are going well. It's very positive. I'm coming down to Plymouth for further discussions, but we are very close. Krisztian is having a great time at Plymouth. There is interest in him from other Championship clubs but his main priority is staying at Plymouth. Krisztian loved being captain last season and would love to be captain this season. He will throw his hat in the ring for that one. He feeds off the way the fans treat him and he feels he's finally getting the recognition for the hard work he puts into his game. Plymouth are making sure that Krisztian knows they want him to stay." Stapleton has also come to the defence of his namesake, Argyle chairman Paul, over the sale of Peter Halmosi. He said: "The Plymouth chairman has done very well to have a Premier League player at his club for 18 months. Peter was very happy at Plymouth but he made it clear that if there was an offer from a Premier League club this transfer window he wanted them to let him go so he could progress his career. For me, the Plymouth chairman has done absolutely everything right. He has listened to the player's request and he has gone out and got the best fee he could have possibly got from Hull. I don't think the criticism of the chairman is fair. If it wasn't for him, Peter Halmosi would never have been at Plymouth in the first place. I worked for Plymouth in the deal to bring Peter over here from Hungary and it involved a lot of hard work. To get him for £400,000 was a miracle. The chairman has done very well to even get Peter to the club and then to keep him for 18 months. After doing as well as he did for Plymouth, Peter deserved the chance to play in the Premier League."
Argyle are reported to be interested in Crystal Palace striker Shefki Kuqi
Paul Sturrock has told his players that competition for places for the first fixture of the new season starts now. He said: "The first two games have been freebies as far as performance is concerned. The players were well warned I would take a back seat and allow them to break themselves in. But the competition for selection starts now and, as far as I'm concerned, from tonight onwards I will have to start seeing an edge to the performances. I thought some individuals played quite well on Wednesday, but it was probably a run-out that everybody needed because we have had a hard week. You could see some of them were a bit leg weary because, obviously, pre-season has not stopped. Normally, you rest before games and after them. But on Tuesday, after the game at Tiverton, there were three sessions in a day. I just want to see a wee bit of zip and sharpness from the players tonight, and a bit more thoughtfulness tactically. There were a lot of free spirits out there on Wednesday, individualising with a lot of stuff. Now they are going to have to start settling down and thinking about where their position is when we have got the ball and when the other team have got the ball." Sturrock added that there would be no repeat of the mass substitutions he made against Tiverton and Weston. "I might put on four or five at half-time, but the full regalia won't be playing,"he said. Kidderminster should provide a step up in opposition for Argyle and Sturrock said: "That's what we are trying to do. We went from Tiverton up to Weston and now we are up into the Conference. It will be a wee test for us because I'm sure they will be looking for a scalp." One trialist, currently out-of-contract, will play against Kidderminster but Sturrock would not name him. Four trialists lined up against Tiverton but Sturrock thought that proved counter-productive. He said: "I'm starting to learn my lesson that when you bring three or four in, it disrupts the whole unit. We are going to do it very slowly maybe one for each game, although I might bring a couple in for the two games in Austria next week." Aggborough was the scene of one of the most ignominious defeats of Sturrock's first spell at Argyle, a 3-0 defeat in 2001, and he said: "I have always done well, there! Actually, that game was probably the start of the revolution. Maybe it can be the start of something new again."
Graham Stack completed the formalities of his transfer to Argyle yesterday, signing a two-year deal. He said: "It's a great opportunity for me to kick-start my career again. I haven't been playing as much football as I would have liked. I've been off for far too long, so I just want to get my teeth stuck into things, get back training, and get back to playing. I went to Wolves and found myself behind Wayne Hennessy, and then I was at Reading behind Marcus Hahnemann, so it's an opportunity for me to try and get some games underneath my belt. This is a good club that is obviously well supported. They've done well over the past five years, always improved their league position and they are a club that are going forward. They've got plans for the stadium and are trying to develop things off the pitch as well." Despite having spent a lot of time as second choice, Stack welcomes competition and hopes that it will improve him as a player He said: "It's something that is healthy. You want people fighting for each position and that's one thing I know that we're going to have here because I know that, if I'm not playing, then I'm going to be fighting to get myself in the side. At the end of the day, it's Plymouth Argyle and, if we're pulling in the same direction, as a group of players, then we stand a chance of having a successful season." When the season begins, Stack could face two of his former clubs on consecutive weekends, Wolves and Reading. He said: "It's just another game as far, as I'm concerned. Reading are a fantastic club, have cracking manager, and I had a good time there but I just didn't get enough games. I'm looking forward to it - it should be good - but the most important thing is we get three points."
Yala Bolasie completed his transfer to Argyle from Floriana yesterday, for a nominal fee
David McNamee has explained why he turned down the chance to return to Scotland to sign for Argyle. He said: "I had a few clubs interested in me from north of the border and Coventry were about to table something. But Plymouth came in and told me 'this is concrete, this is what we are going to offer you' and it was a new challenge for me. It was something fresh because I have never experienced life all the way down here in the South West. I'm all for experiencing new things so I'm looking forward to it. Knowing some of the lads from playing against them in Scotland, such as Clarky, will probably help me settle in quicker." McNamee will compete for Argyle's right-back role with Karl Duguid, but both have the versatility to play elsewhere should the need arise. McNamee said: "I think full-back is my most natural position, but the gaffer knows I can play other positions as well. The more competition there is the better it is for people. I expected that when I came here and I expected it at previous clubs." McNamee has not played any first team football since the end of December because of a hamstring injury and added: "Unfortunately, I got misdiagnosed. I went out and prepared my rehab according to what I was told was the injury. But it wasn't that injury, and it turned out to be a lot worse. It has fully healed now and I passed the medical here and, hopefully, I will just get a good season under my belt." McNamee admitted his hamstring problems at Coventry had been very frustrating. He said: "When I played I felt as though I did myself justice. I played reasonably well. It was just the constant break-ups. But I have got a manager here who has put faith in me and, hopefully, I can go on and show what I can do to the Plymouth fans. I'm completely confident the injuries are behind me. Obviously, I can't account for anything that goes on on the pitch because who knows what's going to happen. But, as far as the hamstring is concerned, I feel as though it's completely healed and all I want now is a little bit of luck and a good season." Sturrock had previously tried on a couple of occasions to sign McNamee, but without success. McNamee said: "I think he was up at Sheffield Wednesday when he tried to get me down from Livingston. It's a massive compliment that somebody of his nature is in my corner, basically, and wanting to bring me to the place where he works. Hopefully, everything will just blend nicely and we will go out and start playing together quite easily, but you can never tell. In the training sessions and in the friendly games we can really get to know each other and, hopefully, we can kick on for a right good season."
Paul Sturrock is convinced David McNamee can put his injury woes of the past two seasons behind him. He said: "McNamee is a player I have chased after at two or three clubs I have been at. I feel he has got fantastic defensive qualities. He's very quick and can play anywhere in the back four. He was doing very well at Coventry until he got a ruptured hamstring, which hindered him for the second half of last season. We have had him scanned and our medical department have checked everything and we are confident that is fine now. His job now is to bed himself into this team as quickly as he can and find a position he's going to play in. He has played a lot at left-back, obviously right-back is his key position, and he played at centre-back for a long time when he was younger."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Weston-super-Mare in last nights friendly, the goal coming from a Darren Mullings own goal. Argyle: First Half - Larrieu, Duguid, White, Seip, Sawyer, Mackie, Summerfield, Folly, Puncheon, MacLean, Fallon. 2nd Half - Saxton, McNamee, Gerring, Brett, Paterson, Bolasie, Clark, McCrory, Smith, Easter, Barnes
Paul Sturrock was pleased with the work-rate of his players in the draw at Weston-super-Mare last night. "It was the work-out everybody needed," he said. "Performances have taken a back-seat as far as these two games are concerned. Individually, some of them played quite well. Some of them were a bit leg-weary out there. Pre-season is non-stop when you would normally have a rest before and after these games. Some of the young boys have looked quite good. Young Ben Gerring is obviously benefiting from playing and Yala Bolasie was much better tonight. McNamee looked very competent. He had not played a game nor done any ball work before tonight. You can see that he has some real qualities that will benefit the team."
Argyle are signing winger Yala Bolasie from Maltese club Floriana for a nominal fee. Paul Sturrock said: "He's total potential. His pace is quite frightening and his thought process on how the game should be played is quite frightening as well, but the opposite way. There is a lot of work to be done on him, but he has got the potential to be a wee nugget, so I'm prepared to give him a deal, work on him and see what develops. He's not one who, all of a sudden, is going to come flashing into the first team. He might play bit parts, but he has not been signed to be a first-team regular. He has been signed to develop his game to become a first-team regular. Yala was recommended to us by somebody who supports Plymouth Argyle and had seen him play in Malta, so we brought him in for a week. He has got one ingredient which is a must in this day and age he's lightning quick." Another trialist who played against Tiverton was Rahim Ouedraogo, but Sturrock has decided not to pursue his interest in the Burkina Faso international. He said: "I just felt he wasn't the type I was looking for." It is believed the 'fourth' trialist at Tiverton was striker Mohammed Faouzi, who is with FC Utrecht, and Sturrock has still to decide whether to make an offer for him. "He's definitely a talented player, but I'm going to take a bit longer to make a decision on him," said Sturrock. "I have got to weigh up whether he could fit into our system of play." Argyle did not include any trialists against Weston-super-Mare last night but more could be on show when they play Kidderminster Harriers on Friday. Bristol Rovers defender Danny Coles is still reported to be a transfer target for Sturrock
Paul Sturrock is hoping to add goalkeeper Graham Stack to his squad. Sturrock said: "Graham is a Premiership and Championship goalkeeper. He's seen it, done it, and got the T-shirt. He has had a good week's training with the players and adapted very well. He is really hungry for this opportunity, and I like hungry players. I feel like it was a no-brainer. He's good kicker, and a good talker - his communication with the back four is excellent. He has a good character, and seems very good around the changing-room, which I feel is a bit quiet at this moment at time. We need some effervescent players, and he definitely fits that bill." Sturrock has decided not to follow up his interest in the Slovakian 'keeper Lubos Hajduch and added: "I weighed up the situation on the goalkeeper and I did feel that with the finance of it, and the timeframe of him adapting to the British game, it didn't make sense, especially specially when we had a goalkeeper who has played in the Premier League and the Championship.
Peter Halmosi completed a £2 million move to Hull City yesterday and Paul Sturrock will now hold talks with Paul Stapleton about how much of the money he can spend in the transfer market. Argyle will also receive a further £500,000 if Hull avoid relegation this coming season. Sturrock said: "That is the next discussion I will have the man who is slightly higher than me in status. And it will probably be very soon." Halmosi admitted he had enjoyed his time at Home Park, and said: "Plymouth are a very good club, with good supporters and a good chairman, but this is the Premier League. I was always very happy with Plymouth, but this move is for the good of my career."
David McNamee is the latest Scot to join Argyle and was glad to meet his new team-mates out on the pitch last night. He said: "I was pleased to get the second-half, although a little disappointed to concede a goal. The whole point is to get your fitness. The best way to meet the lads is out on the pitch, so they get to know your game quickly. McNamee is already feeling comfortably in his new surroundings and feels Argyle should be setting their standards high for next season. He said: "I wanted a change of scenery and I have heard about the fans down here, and the closely-knit squad. I had a few injuries last season and wanted a fresh start. The Gaffer showed interest in me and I was more than happy to come straight down. I have been told the squad has changed quite dramatically and quite quickly, but, hopefully, we can improve on last season. We have got high hopes. There is no point setting your standards low - we set them high last season and want to repeat that."
Paul Sturrock has a stark message for fans disappointed by the departure of Peter Halmosi. "I'm disappointed, because no manager likes losing his best players," he said, "but I am also a realist. This sort of thing will happen regularly to Plymouth Argyle, and it is frustrating for me and for the fans. But I want our supporters to understand that this is the way of the world - it is not unique to Plymouth Argyle because we are a 'small' club, or an 'unambitious' club. Big fish prey on little fish, little fish prey on tiny fish, and tiny fish prey on even tinier fish. If a club with the status of Manchester United can get raided for its best player, we have got no realistic chance of keeping our players when they are wanted by bigger clubs. That is the reality of the situation. Everyone knows Cristiano Ronaldo will leave Old Trafford. United might get a bit bolshie about it for a while, but it will happen; Arsenal will not be able to keep hold of Adebayor if the player wants to leave. That is fact in this day and age. If it's happening for these boys, it gets much, much easier when you're at Plymouth Argyle, when the big fish come in for the wee fish. We do it as well. We prised Jamie Mackie away from Exeter, and nicked Jason Puncheon from Barnet. I don't expect those clubs' fans were happy then. This kind of news will also happen to Plymouth Argyle. It a circumstance of finance that has led to this. Crowds of 13,000 will not pay the wage-bill alone, so we have to find money from somewhere else. What we have to do is to realise that this is going to happen, and plan accordingly. Whoever the manager is, is going to have to build teams regularly to prepare for it. We had the culture shock of Norris and Ebanks-Blake in January, and now we've got the shock of Halmosi before the season starts. A Plymouth price has been offered, and accepted, and he has been a fantastic signing. We've had tremendous service from some of the treasures we've had, then they go - if we get the Plymouth prices, then they go. So we get service and we get finance. The wage-bill has more than doubled in just a few years, so it's a no-brainer. It is frustrating. Let's be frank - no manager wants to lose Norris, Ebanks-Blake, and Halmosi, but, if we have good players who give us good service, other clubs are going to take notice and want what we have got. We're not alone. Sylvan has been at Wolves for six months, scored some goals, and the vultures are circling already - his form is attracting attention. However, my job as manager is for me to continually rebuild our squad. I've got to de-cloud the air now and mould the team again, and get the people in that will benefit the team, because we have to be that kind of club. That's why I'm going to take a bit of time on one or two signings. I've lost what you could call my offensive unit - playmakers and goal scorers - and you just don't replace them like for like. To replace them is big, big money. The problem, the Catch 22, is that, even if you can afford the fee, you can't afford the wages. So I've got to bring in players that's have potential and who will grab the opportunity that I give him, then, I'm afraid to say, that we sell in years to come. It's frustrating, but it's a management skill, and something that I've got to try and get right every year."
Argyle confirmed today that Peter Halmosi has joined Hull City. The club did not confirm the fee but it is thought to be £2million. Paul Sturrock said: "A Plymouth price has been offered, and accepted. Peter has been a fantastic signing for us. We've had tremendous service from him and he goes to Hull with our best wishes. This was possibly the last chance he had to try his talents in the Premier League and I believe he deserves that opportunity. Like some of the treasures we've had, we enjoy good service from them, then, if we get the Plymouth prices, they go. So we get service and we get finance."
Argyle yesterday signed Scottish international defender David McNamee, who was recently released by Coventry City. McNamee has signed a two-year deal and Paul Sturrock believes he will bring a different dimension to his squad. "I've tried to sign him a couple of times," said Sturrock. "He is a very versatile defender, who can play in several positions, and he's very quick. He has played for Scotland and for Blackburn and was doing very well with Coventry before he had a few injury problems. He is a very good footballer. He definitely brings another dimension to our squad and I am really looking forward to working with him."
The venue for Argyle's pre-season friendly against Greuther Furth on July 22nd has been switched to Bischofshofen in Austria, kicking off at 6pm local time
Argyle under-18s lost 4-1 to Watford under-18s in their first pre-season friendly yesterday, the goal scored by Joe Mason. Argyle: Brooks, Troupe, Trott, Kinsella, Hodgkinson, Brett, Mason, McCaul, Grant, Moseley, Head. Subs - Chenoweth, Leonard, Edwards, Kutswana
Mathias Doumbe will still be sidelined by a hamstring injury for Argyle's friendly at Weston-super-Mare tonight. It is also not yet clear whether the four trialists who played against Tiverton will be involved. Three of the players were Lubos Hajduch, Rahim Ouedraogo and Yala Bolasie. The identity of the fourth player was not revealed on the night, but it is believed it was striker Mohammed Faouzi who is currently with Dutch club FC Utrecht. More trialists are expected to be on duty against Weston-super-Mare and Kidderminster, before Argyle fly out to Austria at the weekend
Peter Halmosi is on the brink of signing for Hull City. He was at Hull's friendly at North Ferriby United last night, and manager Phil Brown said: "Peter has come up here for a medical and, hopefully, to agree terms."
Argyle won 1-0 at Tiverton Town in last night's friendly, the goal scored by Luke Summerfield. Argyle played a different line-up in each half and the initial team included three trialists: a goalkeeper thought to be Slovakian international Lubos Hajduch; and two right-sided midfielders - 'Mohamed' and 'Rhim', who is believed to be Burkina Faso international Rahim Ouedraogo. Yala Bolasie, who has recently been training with the squad, played the second half. Argyle: first half Trialist, Duguid, White, Seip, Sawyer; Trialist, Trialist, Summerfield, Mackie, Fallon, MacLean. Second half Trialist, Clark, Hodgkinson, Brett, Paterson, Trialist, Folly, Trialist, Trialist, Puncheon, Easter. Subs McCrory, Barnes
Paul Sturrock refused to put names to any of the four trialists who took part in the win at Tiverton, but was happy to pass judgment on the quartet. A goalkeeper identified only as 'Lubos' played 90 minutes without being extended, and Sturrock said: "I thought he was competent. It was very difficult to make a judgment but you could see there's an air of competence in him. I was quite pleased with him. His kicking was competent. He never looked out of sorts." Romain Larrieu will be back between the sticks for Wednesday's visit to Weston-super-Mare, and Sturrock added: "There was no point in him playing tonight for only 45 minutes. I decided to play the trialist and then play Romain on Wednesday." A defensive midfielder - 'Rhim' - who played for 70 minutes, was also given a guarded thumbs-up. "He actually got better as the game went on," Sturrock said. "I don't think he's totally kept himself in condition since the end of last season but, in the second half, he got stronger and stronger. He's an experienced player and he showed that in the second half." An attacking, midfielder named as 'Mohamed', who also played in both halves, was appreciated - "He's a very talented boy; he's got a really good touch and movement; food for thought" added Sturrock. A fourth, unnamed, player caught the eye on the right wing in the second half. "He's a handful," said Sturrock. "He'll either be the most exciting player on the pitch or awful. You saw glimpses of him tonight. There's something there." The manager intends to run the rule over more trialists in the rest of the pre-season, and said: "I've got a lot of decisions to make, a lot of talks with agents, football clubs, and everything else. I'm not finished with trialists. Over the piece - in Austria, at Kidderminster and on Wednesday - there will be more on the scene. I have got to be safe in my mind I am making the right decisions." Goalkeeper Graham Stack did not feature last night, but Sturrock said: "I said I'd think about things over the weekend and get back to him. He looked very competent, as well. I've not ruled him out of my thoughts." One player not figuring in Sturrock's plans is Jurgen Saumel. "He has preferred to leave his options open," said Sturrock. "It's got to the stage he feels he wants to leave it a month and look at the market to see if there's anything out there that would enchant him. We move on."
Paul Sturrock was content after Argyle eased into their pre-season with a 1-0 win over Tiverton last night. "The pitch was in good nick; there were no bad tackles in the game; a lot of people broke their wind a wee bit. It was a nice game." he said. "This is the first time they've had a wee feel of the ball against opposition so I didn't expect much. I didn't think we'd score any goals tonight. For the first couple of games, you are cutting your teeth again. Half of them have forgotten how to play the positions they are playing in and the shape of the team. It always happens in pre-season. We have to re-emphasise all the rules we have." Luke Summerfield scored the game's only goal after Steve MacLean had seen a penalty saved, with debutants Karl Duguid and Jason Puncheon both catching the eye. "I thought Puncheon did very well," said Sturrock. "He's got exciting vision. His shooting could be a wee bit better, but we've not done anything like that - all we've done is basic conditioning work. I put no store on friendlies. I remember losing every game in Germany and winning the championship that season; and winning every game another year and fighting relegation. You can make no judgments."
The return of Marcel Seip to the Argyle squad has left Paul Sturrock with an intriguing choice of three centre-backs. When asked whether the competition inspires him, Mat Doumbe said: "I hope so. Competition is good for everybody. We will all play games and it has to be good for the team that we are all battling for places. It pushes everybody to their limit." Doumbe has the added advantage of being able to do a job at right-back, and said: "I would be happy to play there," he said. "If the manager wants me to play somewhere else, I will go for it. If I can help my team by playing in a different position, I will." Hamstring trouble disrupted Doumbe's campaign last season, and the problem has flared up again. Despite the set-back, he remains confident that he will not be away from pre-season training for too long. He said: "We have been working hard and I just felt something, nothing too big, and we have to be careful with injuries. I am just taking a bit of time out before it settles down. I want a proper season and to be involved more often than last season. I always work hard and now just want to play more games." Doumbe did not make the journey to Ladysmead last night and added: "I will probably rest tonight because a long bus trip is not the best for my legs. I was running around the pitch while they trained today and they were all working very hard. The first game is always very important as it shows where we are. You use the first game to identify problems and then you work on them. I am feeling confident. The players the manager has brought in look really good and they have integrated into the team very quickly." Argyle used four trialists last night - a situation Doumbe went though before his move to Hibernian six years ago. He said: "If we had played games before, trialists can break the rhythm, but this is the first football game we have played. It happened to me in Scotland. I ended up staying for a month, training with them and played three or four games. It is a difficult situation for a player because you want to impress, but we are there to be judged." Argyle fly out to Austria next weekend for the pre-season tour - a hugely important week for fitness, tactics and team bonding. Doumbe added: "You work on fitness all the time but the tour is the time we really start to work on tactics with the Gaffer. We will keep working on that all the way through the season. The tour is also good for the group. When you are away, the players are all together and bonding."
Paul Sturrock will include two more trialists in his Argyle line-up for tonight's friendly at Tiverton. He refused to name the two players concerned, their nationalities or even their positions. Sturrock also admitted he has yet to make up his mind whether either Graham Stack and Yala Bolasie will travel to Ladysmead, or if they have a future with the club.He said: "We'll have a couple of trialists out against Tiverton tonight. But all I'm going to say about them, is that they are footballers. I'll have a look at them and see how it goes. But I haven't made up my mind yet whether Bolasie or Stack will play tonight."
Paul Sturrock has injury doubts over three players for tonight's friendly at Tiverton. Peter Halmosi, Dan Smith and Mat Doumbe all missed the private practice match at Harper's Park on Saturday but Sturrock insisted the injuries were not serious and the decision to rest them was a case of erring on the side of caution. He said: "Peter had a wee tightness and it was decided better not to risk him. I'll have a better idea of how he is today. Neither Mat or Dan played on Saturday either, and so we'll have to make a decision on them today as well. I will have a couple of trialists in action tonight and I also plan to change the team around completely for the second half. I want to have a look at all the players in a competitive game."
Argyle play their first pre-season friendly at Tiverton Town tomorrow night and Paul Sturrock is planning to give everybody in his squad 45 minutes, a policy he will repeat in Wednesday's trip to Weston-super-Mare. "Everybody will play 45 minutes," he said. "One team will go and then a second team at half-time and that will also be the case on Wednesday. I may settle the team down for the Kidderminster game." Pre-season training has been a success so far with no major injury concerns and decent fitness levels. Sturrock said: "We have suffered a couple of wee niggling knocks and tightening calf muscles, but you expect that in pre-season. They have all come back with good fitness levels though. One of the trialists has been very exciting but I generally don't enjoy this part of the season because it is all running and moaning and complaining."
Yoann Folly's target for the forthcoming season is very simple. He wants to play football. Folly came to Home Park last January but managed only five first-team appearances due to the return of an illness which had hindered him in his formative years - asthma. "When I arrived, it was very difficult because of my illness," he said. "I wanted to play straight away, but I couldn't. Now I'm starting from scratch, and I just want to work hard, have a good pre-season, and play as many games as I can. I had asthma when I was young. I had treatment in France which dealt with it, but it came back when I came to Plymouth. It took a few weeks and a few tests before we found out it was asthma again. I lost my fitness and, by the time we found out what the problem was and treated it, it was too late. I could not regain my fitness. I'd only had asthma in the past when I was young. I had treatment for a few years to get rid of it, but the doctor told me it was possible it would come back. Sometimes going from one place to another can trigger it. It was just unfortunate that it happened here. It was so frustrating, because there's nothing you can do. It isn't like an injury when you can get fit and bounce back. You have to wait for the tests, and you have to wait for the medicine to kick in. It was a long process and it was frustrating, because I came here to play. I was on the sidelines and I saw the games going by. It was very hard, but I had my family with me so at least I had their support." Now that the problem has been diagnosed and the appropriate medication taken, Folly is hoping for a fresh start, and is one of just two central midfielders currently in the squad. "It's not a bad thing as far as I'm concerned," he added, "but, the more players there are in your position, the harder you have to work to get into the team. The pressure and the competition is good for you." Folly was one of Paul Sturrock's first recruits, and the midfielder said: "He has always supported me, and he has always been fair with me. I have a lot of respect for the manager, and now I just want to repay the faith that he has shown in me. I'm looking forward to the new season."
Argyle's home game against Cardiff City will be shown live on Sky. The match, on November 22nd, will now kick off at 12.45pm
Paul Sturrock is hoping to exploit the loan market in his bid to strengthen the squad. Premier League clubs have returned from their summer break and Sturrock is now waiting for answers on the loan enquiries he has made. He said: "There are a couple that played in this division last year, who would benefit us greatly. I have got scenarios happening in the loan department where certain clubs have promised me answer on a certain date. If that comes to fruition, I will definitely go down that road because they are exciting players. Most Premier League teams are back but you normally get a ten-day spell where they have a look at their boys and see if there is any difference from the season before. You sometimes find a boy grows an inch or two, puts a bit of strength on and that totally changes them." The unpredictable nature of the loan market makes it very difficult to totally rely on temporary recruits and Sturrock added: "Jutkiewicz was a disappointment to me last year as far as his input was concerned, whereas Campbell went to Hull and turned their season around. It swings and roundabout and, if you look down the years, I have had successful loans and disappointing loans."
The inflated price of British players has forced Paul Sturrock to scour the global market in search of targets but the problem he faces is finding foreign players capable of quickly adapting to Championship football. "There is a problem with signing English players," he said. "If you offer a player the same wages he is on at his current club, which can be very high for our budget, what is the point in him moving? Hopefully, some of them will move for a game but most of them will move for money. It is just one of those things but we are still working very hard to get the players I want to the football club. I can get cheaper players from abroad at this moment in time but I then have to structure them into a British way and a mentality of how to play our game in just three weeks. That would be very, very difficult. The transition will go into the season now. I was hoping we'd have every player here and we'd have the transition taking place through the pre-season friendlies, but it looks now as if that transition is going to affect games. Players are going to have to come in here and jump straight into games without knowing the tempo and the pace and what we're looking for."
Pre-season can be exhausting but Luke Summerfield has been through enough of them to know what is expected and how the benefits will come later. He said: "It is not the best time of the year, but, as a player, you just have to dig in and make sure you work hard. At the moment we are just getting fit for when the football comes along. By the end of July you are hopefully going to get that shirt and, hopefully, play as many games as you can in the team for the rest of the season." Summerfield is showing signs of his increasing maturity by realising and working on improving the one aspect of his game that may let him down at times. "I'm not the strongest lad," he said. "But I'm trying to work as hard as I can, putting the hours in at the gym over the summer, also in pre-season, and hopefully, that will stand me in good stead for the season." Having been at the club since he was a young boy, Summerfield feels the time is right to make his own name for himself, just as Dad and current assistant manager, Kevin. Luke said: "As soon as I'm out of here, he is my Dad, no two ways about it but, in here, it is different, he is coaching staff. Even if he wasn't a good footballer, I would still be impressed that he was a footballer. It doesn't play on my mind that he was a good footballer. I have always looked up to him as a dad and a coach, and he has helped me along through my career. It has advantages, but as soon as I walk in those gates on a Monday to Saturday, he is the assistant manager."
Paul Sturrock has refused to write-off the possibility of Russell Anderson and Gary Teale joining Argyle. He said: "The scenario with Anderson and Teale is that, with transfer fees and the kind of wages they are on, it would be very difficult. I think Anderson would be desperate to come back but it is a difficult one, although I have not totally written them off."
Paul Sturrock has bemoaned his luck yet again as he admitted to missing out on two transfer targets. Sturrock conceded one of the players who had rejected the chance to move to Home Park had been a candidate for the Argyle captaincy but refused to name him. Reports suggest however that the player was Crystal Palace midfielder Carl Fletcher. Sturrock said: "We did get knocked back from somebody who I felt would have been an important ingredient to this football club, which disappointed me, and means the search goes on. I'm hoping one or two players, who I'm in negotiations with, will say yes to me in the next couple of days. The market has been very, very quiet compared to what I thought it would be. I think people are hoarding their share and are going with what they've got. I'm disappointed with what happened on Wednesday, because I potentially lost two players, I think. It means that, I'm going to have to re-awaken a couple of the plates I've been spinning, and start negotiating with them. Sturrock is still hopeful of hearing positive news from Jurgen Saumel, but stressed he will not wait forever. He said: "The Austrian situation is basically on-going he's thinking about the scenario. But at the end of the day, like spinning plates, if I get something else in, then that plate will crash. The door is always open he's a good player, but the time frame is beginning to run out." Sturrock said the problem of the club's resources, its geographical location and the popularity, in terms of attendances, of the Championship, meant he was having to work extra hard to attract players to Plymouth. "It's a combination of everything this league has gone absolutely zany," he added. "It's finished up financially in the top six leagues in the world. And so people and agents think they're going to get the money that some of these clubs are paying at the moment. I'm very hopeful there will be a sensibility to it and people will become realistic in their approach. I'm losing players because of their wives, that's how scary it is. A couple of times I've been in negotiations with the wife, trying to talk some of them round. It's very difficult to uproot and move down here where you know nobody. I can see their points of view. They have families in certain areas and it is very difficult to come down here. There are people out there, like Jim Paterson, who are happy to move their families down, but there are also some people that can't handle that."
Trialists Yala Bolasie and Graham Stack will be given the chance to impress in a behind-closed-doors match at Home Park tomorrow morning. Paul Sturrock said: "Graham Stack has been with us this week. We've got a behind closed doors game on Saturday and I'll decide where we go with it after that. But he could be involved next week, too." Sturrock said he had been 'excited' by Bolasie in training, but would reserve judgement on him until after seeing him play in a competitive match. He added: "The trialist has been exciting but the proof will be in the pudding tomorrow morning. That's when we'll make a decision on him. All the players have come back with very good fitness levels, although they've all forgotten exactly how we want the game played, but that's normal their minds switch off."
Luke Summerfield believes he can stake his claim in the Argyle midfield in the coming season. After receiving words of praise from Paul Sturrock already in pre-season, he said: "It's good to hear. I've wanted to stake a claim over the last two or three years in the first team and this season is no different. Every season there is a weight on my shoulders, to say 'look, this is the year I'm going to break in'; I've said it ever since the first year I turned pro. Hopefully, I'll live up to it. I've been working hard in pre-season, and hopefully, come the first game, I'll have the shirt." Summerfield has identified consistency as the key to him succeeding this season and he believes getting a decent run in the team early on will help. "Consistency is hard in this league," he said. "There will be weeks where we'll win, weeks where we won't. It's easier for me if I have 10, 15 games under my belt, then you know you'll have some consistency in your game. It's harder to get consistency over two or three games. The competition for places is not only good for me, but also good for the club. The bigger the squad, the more people are going to raise their game and want that shirt. I might not have that shirt now. I've still got to work hard and knuckle down and make sure that shirt is mine and then try to keep it."
Paul Sturrock is making sure that Krisztian Timar takes things steadily as he fights his way back to match-fitness. Timar will not be involved, to begin with, in Argyle's pre-season friendlies and will continue his rehabilitation during the training camp in Austria. "He'd like to play after he gets back from Austria," Sturrock said. "He wouldn't mind a wee run-out, but he's going to have to get back his confidence at heading the ball. That's something that's very difficult. He's saying it won't be a problem, but I assure you it can be a problem. But we're told that the membrane is even stronger than it was in the past, which is good news." Despite Timar's progress, Mat Doumbe's acceptance of a new contract, and Marcel Seip's removal from the transfer list, Sturrock is still keen to have extra central defensive options within his squad. "We're still looking in that area," he said. "We don't know how Timar is going to be. I'd like a utility defender rather than somebody who is an out and out centre-back. We have to cover ourselves in all avenues."
It took more than a year for Rory Fallon to get a consistent run in the team after joining Argyle, but when given the chance towards the end of last season, he repaid Paul Sturrock with some impressive performances. Fallon said: "I was really enjoying myself at the end because I was getting consistent games and, whenever I have a consistent run, I know I can score some goals. I was on a good run and, hopefully, I can continue with that." Sturrock will have been equally pleased with Fallon's blossoming partnership with Jermaine Easter and Fallon admitted he enjoys the big man, small man combo, although he is also happy to play in a slightly deeper role. "One of our strongest areas is up front and we are all battling up there," he said. "The big man, little man combination always works well for me. If I do have a partnership, I like someone playing off me. The dropping-off role is tough - one of the hardest roles you can possibly do. You have to be up front and get back to defend. The running is tough, especially on Wolves' pitch. I remember thinking on that last game of the season, what a massive pitch it was. Obviously, I don't mind doing it because it is helping out the boys and, as long as I am playing, I am happy." After a lengthy summer break, Fallon is eager to play the first pre-season game and added: "Pre-season is always a tough time but it is still good to be back. The boys all look fit and ready to go. I had a good summer break, a nice six weeks off, so I am rested up and now raring to go. You just never know what the season is going to bring forth. I don't want to say anything now. I want to concentrate on my pre-season. We have to be positive because, if you don't, it won't work out. We have to work hard, get some wins and build confidence, so we can reach our peak for that first game of the season." One game that already stands out for Fallon is the visit of former club Swansea to Home Park on August 23rd. "It is going to be a good game," he said. "The bigger one for me will be the match at Swansea. I will probably get some stick but I don't mind that."
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that Austrian international Jurgen Saumel is one of his key targets. Sturrock confirmed that Saumel had visited Plymouth last week and had held talks with the club, and said: "Yes, I can confirm that Saumel spent a couple of days in Plymouth last week. He came down here with his girlfriend and his agent and we showed them around the club. We also showed him around Plymouth and the surrounding area and I think he liked what he saw. We like to do things in the proper way here and by giving them a peek at the place and what Plymouth has to offer is important. But he's just one of three certain players and I don't want to name the others we are hoping to hear back from within the next few days." However, one of the players linked with Argyle, Bristol Rovers defender Danny Coles, played down speculation over a move to Home Park. "It proves I've done something right and it's flattering to be linked with a Championship club," Coles said. "Every player wants to play at the highest standard they can. I'm happy here and I'm from Bristol so it was a case of coming back home when I joined Rovers. It worked for me because I found my form again and was playing like I had before I left Bristol until I got injured late last season. But if an opportunity did come along for me to step up, and the money was right for the club, it would be something I'd be interested in."
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that trialist Yala Bolasie will be given a chance in one or two of Argyle's pre-season friendlies next week. He is expected to be in the squad for the fixtures with Tiverton Town on Monday and Weston-super-Mare on Wednesday. "He is a trialist and is training with us," said Sturrock. "We'll have a look at him in one or two of the friendlies next week." Also believed to be training with the squad this week is former Arsenal and Reading goalkeeper, Graham Stack
Paul Sturrock will be demanding a shoot on sight policy from his players this season. The manager is seeking a return to the highly-successful playing style which saw the team become a goal threat from a range of outfield positions and not just his strike force. He said: "Yes, that's what we're trying to build again. I don't think enough players shared the load as far as scoring goals is concerned last season. At the end of the day, it put a lot of pressure on our strikers last season. It's more difficult to sign strikers, but at the end of the day, there were one or two of our strikers showing good form towards the end last season. Jimmy did a great job for us, but we just felt there was a freshness needed in several positions. I needed to open that area of the team to new players, when Jimmy, Nal and Wotton went. So we are trying to bring a different type of player in there." It's something we're going to have to work on very hard on we've got five weeks before the season starts. But again we're not going to peak after five weeks, particularly with new players having to come in and adapt to the style of play. It's something I'm working on very feverishly to get key players in as quickly as possible."
Karl Duguid left relegated Colchester to join Argyle for one reason, Championship football. "It was tough with Colchester last season," he said. "Obviously, we ended up being relegated but I enjoyed playing in the Championship and that is part of the reason I have come to Plymouth. I want to be in the Championship. I am 30-years-old now and I want to playing at the highest level possible, and I am going to enjoy it again." The previous season was very different for Duguid, as Colchester finished tenth in the Championship. He said: "Team spirit plays a massive part. When we finished tenth the season before last, the changing room was a tight-knit bunch of lads. I am told it is the same here at Plymouth because you are so far away from everywhere else and the lads bond well. All the lads want to be together and be as one. You have got to stick together. I have never won at Plymouth. It is a very tough place to come and we want to make it like that next season, and still pick up points on the road. I know a few players left at the end of last season but I am sure the manager is looking to add more players. We have improved every season and you have got to look to continue that."
Jason Puncheon believes the key to Argyle enjoying another successful season will be off the pitch. "The key for Plymouth Argyle will be off the field," he said. "It is the team spirit we have got here. The football club finished tenth last year and we are hoping to do better than that. I am looking forward to pre-season and everyone has been so helpful - the players, the backroom staff, and it makes things easier. I know I have the ability to bring things to the football club. I played in the Championship when I was 17, so it is not such a big jump for me. I can't wait for the first game. All I am waiting for is the first pre-season game and kicking the ball." Puncheon and fellow newcomer Karl Duguid were joined in training at the end of last week by a trialist, whom the club have declined to name. According to sources in Malta however, he is Yala Bolasie, a 19-year-old English winger who played for Maltese club Floriana last season. He was previously on the books of Rushden & Diamonds
Paul Sturrock has revealed he is going to let his players compete for the vacant job of club captain this season. He said: "We need some talkers in the team. All the strong characters have gone now and we need someone to come to the show. I think it will be a contest within the squad and we're still not finished in the transfer market." Meanwhile, Sturrock has said Luke Summerfield is a player who could have a big season for the club and admitted the young midfielder was 'scrutinised' more than most players at Home Park. He said: "I think Summers has a big year coming up. He has a fantastic range of passes, but sometimes he forces the pass. We've got to work on his upper body strength, but his range of passes and his movement excites me and it's up to him to force his way into the team." Yoann Folly is another who could have a big impact on the season, according to Sturrock. He said: "Yoann would be the first to admit he's been disappointing since he came here. It's up to him to show me he's the player he was for me at Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday. It would be like getting a new player. It's a big season for him."
Argyle look set to sign released Reading goalkeeper Graham Stack, according to national newspaper reports
Krisztian Timar suffered a terrible head injury in the closing stages of the final game of last season and a major operation replaced a holiday, but it was all worth it with Timar now defying the odds by returning fit and ready for pre-season. "I am really well now and I think I will be ok by the end of pre-season," he said. "The Doctor said I needed to rest for eight weeks and last Friday was the last day in my recovery time, so I can start pre-season with everybody else. I can do everything apart from heading but I will start doing that with a soft ball in the next few days. I am very curious about what will happen when I head the ball. After this kind of injury, it has only been six weeks and I am back again. It looks like normal and I am very pleased with the doctor - he did a very good job. I am very confident. I want to head the ball and be the best header in my team again." Despite his turbulent summer, Timar is upbeat and believes Argyle can improve on their tenth-placed finish last season. The pitch is recovering from the summer concerts, the dressing rooms have been renovated and Timar is feeling a good vibe around the place. He said: "The ground is getting better, the changing room is getting better and it looks like everything is improving. I am very hopeful that with my team-mates, especially Peter Halmosi, if he stays here, we can, with more players arriving, be better than last year."
Paul Sturrock is looking to add at least four more players to his squad before the season begins. He said: "I am very hopeful of bringing four or five more players to the club and I am trying to be picky to ensure I get the right people. At this moment in time, I have about 17 players around the first-team and I would like to take that up to 22 if possible. I would hope to think that we could bring one or two players to the club by Tuesday." First-year professionals Shane White, Damien McCrory and Lloyd Saxton could also be added to the mix, although Sturrock feels their inexperience renders them unrealistic options for the first-team. He said: "It would be very unfair of me to really count on any of them, unless they are unbelievably quick developers. I am spinning plates and loans mean I have to wait until mid-July before people make decisions, and you can get caught out. I have to weigh up what is best for the club. Some clubs are haggling; agents are haggling with wages, so there are a lot of things going on in the background. Fans obviously want to know but, at this juncture, it is important the work keeps going on. Most Premiership clubs don't come back until Monday and they will want to have a look at their players before making decisions on loans. There will then be a host of clubs putting their hands up for the small amount of loan players available, which makes it a difficult market. I would like to think we could nick one or two but putting all our eggs in that basket could cause us concern." Another possible target-area is the Japanese market and Sturrock admitted he has been impressed by a couple of players from that market. He said: "The Japanese season ends in January and nobody is going to give you anything unless you are willing to really invest. I have seen a lot of targets and I quite fancy one or two of the players I have seen. It is up to us now to discuss with the clubs." Wherever they come from, however, the final objective for Luggy is to have two players fighting for every position and, preferably, he would like to reach that aim sooner rather than later. "I would like two players fighting for each position," he added. "That is the way I have always worked and it means the players know where they are. It gives an edge to the team as well. It is vitally important we can get to that level. It is something we will be working hard on over the next five weeks. We also have to get a possible four or five to adapt. If it takes two weeks for them to come in, we will be well into our shape-work by then, which is why I am working furiously to get key players in as soon as possible and I have given a deadline to some of the agents." Despite the optimism and good intentions, Sturrock is also wily enough to realize that his plans may be disturbed by members of his current squad moving on. "It is no different to any other football club," he said. "Every player has got a price and I am not going to hide from that, but I am hopeful that I will have all my bases covered. We are still in negotiations with people here. We want to keep them here. We don't want to disturb our team. I am a realist and that is a scenario that happens to most football clubs in this day and age."
Krisztian Timar has predicted he will suffer no mental hangovers from his horrific head injury. He said: "I feel absolutely fine. The doctors said that after the operation I had to rest for six to eight weeks and that is exactly what I've done. Now that time is up, I can train with the rest of the players. The only thing I must not do is head the ball. But in the next few days I will start to build up my heading again with Maxie. I don't know whether I will have to wear a head-guard. I will have to see what kind of feeling I get once I start heading properly again." Timar added: "I am not worried about playing against Wolves or of heading the ball again. It is what I do and what I like to do best, and I want to be the best header of the ball in my team again. I am very confident I will be back soon." Looking ahead to the new season, Timar is confident about the clubs prospects. "I am confident we can do better than last year," he said. "Especially if Peter stays and we have other good players coming in." Timar also paid tribute to the fans. He said: "I was very glad to receive letters from supporters and that they were worried about me. The support was great, and I cannot wait until when I play in front of the fans again."
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle can continue to do things their own way and still enjoy success despite parachute payments and an influx of mega-rich chairmen giving their competitors an apparent financial edge. "It is going to be difficult because there has been a transformation in this league," he said. "There are potentially nine teams with parachute payments in this league and obviously the Sugar Daddies have turned up as well. Barnsley have just bought a player for £1.2m, which shows it going to be very competitive. We are an honest team, a hardworking side and I am sure we will compete. It will end in tears for a lot of these clubs. I never thought a club the size of Southampton would be in such crisis as far as finance is concerned. We look after our money here and we are very hopeful we can get service out of our players and then sell them on - that is the way the football club has to be run. It means you have to build teams quite regularly but that is the way it has to be done."
Paul Maxwell has begun his annual fitness war with the playing staff at Home Park. He said: "It is obviously pre-season time and not many players particularly enjoy pre-season, although, to be fair, we have a young group of lads here and I don't think they are feeling too bad. They have all had programmes throughout the summer, so they should be at a certain level of fitness. We have come up to Marjons, with their excellent team, who have pushed the players through their bleep tests to give us an idea of their fitness levels. We will probably do it a couple more times during the season for a further gauge on their fitness. They have also done some strength testing, body mass and body composition, and then some jump tests and the running test to finish. We have a youngish side and they all looked pretty sharp. We use the bleep tests to measure their heart rates, and then you can go deeper and look into anaerobic thresholds. We will bring sprint work in later in the season but, from an injury perspective, we don't want to do that on the first day back. It gives us an idea of the fitness of each individual, so we can set their different fitness programmes. Some players obviously get further than others but, from the evidence of today, they are all looking pretty good." Maxwell was full of praise for the fitness staff at Marjons, who have provided him with great assistance in the quest to get the squad ready. "The staff at Marjons have been fantastic and they have been helping us since Tony Pulis came in," he said. "Hopefully, as we progress as a club, we can bring in more people to help me out. An extra pair of hands is obviously very helpful for me. Most clubs are now moving this way and the facilities here at Marjons are great - they have got everything that we need and we will be looking to push forward with them in the future." The players will continue their regime with another rigorous session today at Keyham, and Maxwell added: "They will be doing almost three sessions per day. We will work on core stability, circuits and weight training in the mornings, followed by ball work and more fitness in the afternoons. The old days of running, and running, and running are long gone. We now try to make things as specific to the game as possible."
Paul Sturrock has scotched rumours linking Peter Halmosi with a move away from Home Park. Sturrock insisted no offers have been received and, should they arrive in the future, Halmosi will only be allowed to leave for a Plymouth-price. "We have not had any concrete offers as yet," he said. "People sometimes think that what comes out in the media is always right but I want to emphasise to the fans that we have had no concrete offer for Peter Halmosi, or any of our players. Contracts mean nothing these days because of scenarios that arise but, if Peter Halmosi is going to leave, it will take a Plymouth price. That is important for everybody to understand and realize and, if there is anybody out there, they will be told of that scenario. Peter has made a value for himself and somebody has got to pay that value. He was very professional in his approach last year and I know he will not let down anyone at Plymouth Argyle. Peter has made it plain that the Premiership is where he wants to play. I would have loved to give him that opportunity this year and I would like to think we could give him that in the next two or three years. At this moment, we would like to think we are going to tie up Peter's and Timar's contracts for a fair amount of time but that is ongoing."
Marcel Seip has been taken off the transfer list after apologizing to his team-mates and Paul Sturrock. The defender was placed on the transfer list when he refused to be a substitute against Charlton last April. Sturrock said: "Marcel has come in today and apologized for the unfortunate scenario that happened to myself, and apologized to all the players at the football club. Marcel has had the guts to come in and do that and I am very appreciative. As far as I am concerned, the slate is clean now. He realizes that he made a mistake. He will now be brought off the transfer list and will be a valuable part of the team. I am not the type of manager that holds grudges. He will move on now and I am pleased he has shown a strong enough character to do that. I will now look to build the bridge I have got with all my players. I was very appreciative that he individualized all the players that were here last year and apologized to them face-to-face. The slate is clean and he and I can now build a relationship. It is a weight off my shoulders and we can get on with the season. It would have been easy for Marcel to think the grass would have been greener but he has shown a commitment to the football club. As far as I am concerned, today is the last day I want to discuss it. We are now looking forward."
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle can now 'get to grips' with talks over contract extensions for Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar. The squad started pre-season training yesterday and Halmosi and Timar were among the players who carried out a series of fitness tests at Marjons. Sturrock said: "Talks are continuing and now they are back here we can get to grips with it. We have been going to and fro through the agent, but now we can get the agent down here, get the players in the room and try to sort it out. I would like to tie both of them up to new contracts." Meanwhile, Sturrock has revealed Argyle are waiting on word back from two of their transfer targets. One of them is thought to be Austrian international midfielder Jurgen Saumel, however, newspaper reports in Germany suggest he could be set to sign for Borussia Monchengladbach. Sturrock said: "We are waiting on two players to give us the nod that they have agreed everything. They want time to think it over. Hopefully, by the beginning of next week we will have another two or three players in. Next week is quite heavy as far as running is concerned and I wouldn't want too many of them to miss that." The squad split into two groups yesterday for their fitness tests and Sturrock added: "They are good pros and I would be shocked if any of them were out of condition."
Argyle's match against Swansea City at Home Park on August 23rd will be broadcast live by Sky, and the kick-off time has been changed to 5.20pm
Jason Puncheon's career has not followed the conventional route, but he feels a spell in the wilderness was the best thing that could have happened to him. He said: "I started my career at Wimbledon and played in the Championship at just 17, and I always knew I could get back there. I have had a lot of downfalls in my career and they have been my own fault, but I think I have turned that around now. I have been rewarded by coming to a great club like Plymouth Argyle." Puncheon's career has followed a similar path to that of new team-mate Jamie Mackie. "I played in the same youth team as Jamie," said Puncheon. "Our paths have been very similar, although he probably dropped down because of problems on the field, whereas it was off the field for me. My mum always said 'don't be one of those that says 'I wish, I should have, I could have', but, for a time, I was one. I will never let it go again. It has made a man out of me at a very early age. Some people have it too easy for too long and then hit a low at 24 or 25, and they don't know how to bounce back. The low hit me at 18, so I know what it is like down there." Now his return to Championship football is complete, Puncheon has been delighted with the welcome he has received from Argyle. He said: "The one thing that has really helped me since I came down here has been the welcome from the players and the staff. It is slightly different to Barnet but that is probably because this is a football club far down in the Westcountry, so a lot of the players are far from home and you need that togetherness. You have got to believe. If you don't have belief, you will never get anywhere in life."
Luke McCormick has been suspended by Argyle, the club announced yesterday. Argyle issued a short statement which said: "We have advised Luke McCormick that, in light of current circumstances, he has been suspended by the club and so will not be required to attend pre-season training."
Mike Pejic may be Argyle's head of youth coaching, but he will also be keeping a close eye on the club's three new first-year professionals next season. Lloyd Saxton, Shane White and Damien McCrory have all stepped up from the under-18s squad and having worked closely with the three in the past 18 months, Pejic wants to make sure they continue to make progress. He said: "The development of the 18 to 21-year-old age group is very important. They need to be taken care of, and, for me, that's the trouble throughout the country and why we are not producing top-class players. There is a massive drop out because people can't be bothered to employ staff to take care of them and give them a proper training programme. They just fob them off and these young lads get a lot of wasted time, whereas they should train really hard. The 18 to 21-year-old age group should do more work than anybody else in the club. So I will be watching them closely and they will still be joining my lot at times. And I will do sessions with them as well. I will monitor how much training they do and what they do, and how many minutes they play in matches, and things like that." Pejic and head of youth development, Gordon Bennett, both arrived at Argyle in 2007 and soon started implementing changes. The under-18s were playing in the adult South Western League at the time, rather than in their age group in the Football League Youth Alliance. For the start of last season they returned to the Youth Alliance, and ended up winning the South West Conference. Pejic said: "Rather than having a team in quite a demanding environment of playing up a year or two, we are now just doing it with one or two players who deserve it, or we feel they need to develop further. I feel we have got better coaches on board than when we first came in, and better staffing all round. We have now got something like a solid base, and all this had an effect on what happened last season." Not only did Argyle win the South West Conference in the Youth Alliance, they also reached the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup, and Pejic added: "It just doesn't happen overnight. The changes we have made over the 16 months we have been here, and the development programme we have put in place, is starting to bear fruit quite early really. The kids have worked really hard and I didn't expect it to come like it did last season. I thought it would take two or three years for things to get bedded in, and we would then start from there. But they went above all expectations last season and did really well. You have got to give credit to the kids who have been part of it."
Playing in the Championship for Argyle next season holds no fears for Jason Puncheon. He said: "I had a difficult time at Milton Keynes Dons and I let a lot of things get to me, in and out of football. I went to Barnet and picked myself back up, and now I'm only looking to head upwards. I played in the Championship when I was 17, so I don't think it's going to be a problem." Puncheon admitted the right-side of midfield was his preferred position, and added: "The manager has told me he wants to play me on the right as well, so we will see what happens through pre-season. I want to get the fans behind me and I will be looking to give them excitement and hard work." Puncheon also revealed the move to Home Park had been in the pipeline for a while. He said: "I was aware Paul Sturrock had come to watch me a few times last season, as well as the chief scout. So it was just about getting things tied up properly. I'm a London boy and life is a lot faster up there than it is down here, so I can now concentrate on my football." Argyle have improved their final league position for each of the last seven seasons and Puncheon hopes they can continue that impressive sequence. "They finished 10th last season and I'm sure everyone will be aiming for higher than that," he said. Puncheon met his new team-mates for the first time at Argyle's annual golf day at Elfordleigh yesterday. Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar were among those there, as well as transfer-listed Marcel Seip
Argyle will now be playing German Second Division side Greuther Furth on July 22nd , instead of Romanian outfit Jiul Petrosani. The game will be played in Germany, in the town of Laufen, and will kick off at 6pm. The second game of the week, against Nuremberg on July 25th, will be played at Kaprun, in the state of Salzburg
Argyle are expected to make a statement about Luke McCormick in the next couple of days. The club have yet to announce what, if any, involvement McCormick will have in pre-season
Paul Sturrock is believed to be holding talks with Manchester United about taking two of their young players on loan next season
Krisztian Timar is ready and eager for the start of pre-season training on Thursday, according to Paul Maxwell. He said: "I spoke to Krisztian on Sunday and he feels 100 per cent now, which is great. I have no doubts that once he gets back into it he will be fine. We will start off with some light impact heading and we are going to get some headgear sorted out for him." Timar returned to Plymouth yesterday and is expected to attend Argyle's annual golf day at Elfordleigh with the rest of the squad tomorrow
Paul Sturrock has confirmed that one trialist will be with the squad for the start of pre-season training. "He's British and that's all I'm saying for the time being," he said. "We will have one trialist to start off with and a second one will be coming in next week."
Mike Pejic knows what it takes to make it to the top level of football and is passing on words of wisdom to Argyle's new first-year apprentices. The youth team squad started pre-season training at yesterday morning and Pejic said: "The ones we have taken on, they are not a bad group. There are one or two who are going to have to work really hard to get on board, but that's what we are here for. We have got different levels in the group, but it's about who comes through at the end of the two-year training programme we give them." Argyle's new intake of apprentices features one goalkeeper, two full-backs, two centre midfielders and two strikers, but Pejic insisted it was coincidence there was such an even spread throughout the playing positions. He said: "If you have got four good centre-backs you take them for their ability. You don't say, 'We will take a centre-back, a centre midfielder and a front player'. It's just how it has worked out." Four of the new apprentices are local to Plymouth, but the other three are from outside Devon and Cornwall, and Pejic added: "I find down here with the local boys, they seem to be very laid back. They haven't got the hardened mentality of kids from major footballing areas, like Merseyside, the North East, London and the Midlands. I have to give them that, and it takes them quite a while to settle in. Some of the first years from last season still haven't settled into what is expected of them. It has been hard for them." There are high hopes for Liam Head, who played for England and Devon Schools at under-16 level last season, and also made one substitute appearance for Argyle's reserves. Pejic said: "We pushed him forward for international level, and he has done quite well having got there. But he needs to work really hard on the mental side. He has got to get to grips with that. He has got ability, but it's about how you apply that ability, and how you adapt to different situations which will test him mentally. Ability is worthless without the mental side."
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