A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have beaten Forest Green 5-3 away in what will surely be remembered as one of the most bizarre pre-season friendlies of recent times. The Cotswalds side took a shock early 3-0 lead which included a penalty scored by Jon Parkin. However Argyle rallied, taking the deficit down to 3-2 within minutes due to Jake Jervis and Reuben Reid goals. Argyle not only made a respectable equaliser but actually went on to scorer a further 5 goals through Hiram Boateng, Gary Sawyer and another effort from Jake Jervis. Argyle ended pre-season 2015 in style. Argyle: McCormick(C Harvey), Mellor, Nelson(Bentley), Hartley, Sawyer(Purrington), McHugh, Boateng(Cox), Carey, Jervis(Rooney), Reid(Brunt), Wylde(T Harvey)
Jake Jervis has spoke about the vast wealth of experience that he has accumulated by the fairly young age of 23. He has so far appeared for eleven different clubs in his five year career and hopes that Argyle will be somewhere where he can finally settle down. He said: "It's a league that everyone doesn't know much about in terms of the football. It's a good standard of football, and the fans are very passionate to say the least! You've got teams you're playing against like Galatasaray and Fenerbache, where it's a crazy atmosphere. It's definitely something that helped me in terms of my football side technically. I had six months in Turkey where, because of my contract, I couldn't even play, so I'm just looking to enjoy my football this season. It helps you see the good of football and the bad of football. Obviously it's made me a better person for it, and I think it's made me a better player. To have played in different leagues and different places definitely helps me, and I've used it as a positive thing. I've been places where we've done really well - I've gone on runs at Swindon where we've gone 16 or 17 games unbeaten – and then I've been somewhere I've not even been able to play. Everything has helped me towards where I am today."
Derek Adams has said that some of Argyle's younger players will get their chance in the first team- but only if they prove that they are better than those currently in the first team for Argyle. He explained: "They have to prove to me they are ready to go in to the first team and to do that they have to play well in the reserve games. They have all trained well over pre-season. They will be part of the first-team squad this season. It's up to them to prove that they are better than the ones that are in the starting 11. That's the challenge they've got to look forward to, and I'm sure they will try and do that. The jump between reserve team and under-18 football up to first team is a big jump. We will work with them and give them opportunities in the reserve team and coach them and try and get them into the first-team. I do believe the system is wrong, where you go from under-18 football into first team football. There is not a gap between the two and that is due to finance as well. There's not enough money to go around for a reserve team and that's just the way it is. They have to train every day with the first team and get the benefits of that. Play reserve games when there are reserve games and they will be ready to progress when the time is right. They will have the opportunity to play some games, it would be for more of a fitness thing, in the Peninsula League on a Saturday or Monday that will give them game time. But obviously, they have to play at a higher standard to try and make them develop. There is no one else coming in at this point in time, but were working away in the background to try and achieve that and maybe over the coming weeks we'll be able to do that. I'm still working away in the background and just assessing what we need. We're obviously limited to what we can do but we're still working. It doesn't just depend on me it depends on the other club. If it was to happen before the start of the season then that would be great, if not then we'll deal with that."
Derek Adams was particularly pleased with Argyle's performance in the 1-0 victory over Torquay and could find far less to criticise than in previous performances. On the whole he was happy with Argyle's display and saw it in the context of a team getting steadily more ready for the start of the season. Adams said: "It was a very good game for us. I thought for large spells of the game we were excellent, especially in the wider areas. With the chances we created, we were unfortunate not to have gone ahead early in the game. We had numerous chances, especially in the first half, and some in the second half. We're making very good progress; we've played really well in the pre-season games. We've got minutes under our belt and the players have got an understanding with each other, so I'm delighted with the progress we're making. Torquay will do well in this league. They're a good side who get the ball forward very quickly and pass it well, as well. I think they'll be up there or thereabouts this season. But I'm delighted with the performance tonight, and to get the victory. I thought that the 14 players all contributed to the team, and it's a team effort - that's important. We're not far away now; barring an injury, we've got a good idea of where we're going. I'm delighted with the performance tonight and the progress we're making."
Yet more positive news for Argyle came from Reuben Reid who notably completed a full 90 minutes of action for the first time since the operation he had on his foot injury which troubled him for much of last season. Reid himself is very optimistic about his recovery, saying: "Any footballer will tell you that the worst thing is coming to work and not being able to do training with the lads. You're going to the gym and doing your own rehab, and you can't really make up for going on the pitch and having a kick-around. But I've kept myself busy since I came back and I've worked extra hard away from football, as well, to get my fitness back up to the levels that they should be, and need to be. I'm potentially better than I ever have been before. It's good to be back out there from the start on a football pitch. I felt strong, and probably a bit ahead of schedule than I thought I'd be. From Christmas time and after the Exeter game in February, I was in a pretty bad way and shouldn't have been playing football. I told the old gaffer 'yes' when I was dead in one leg, and I've got two feet again at the moment! So, of course, if selected, I'm ready to go and can hopefully put a performance in for the team."
Argyle continued their winning pre-season with a 1-0 away victory over Torquay United via an 86th minute free-kick winner from Graham Carey. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley(McHugh), Sawyer, Cox, Boateng, Carey, Jervis(Rooney), Reid, Wylde(T Harvey). Subs: C Harvey, Purrington, Bentley, Hall, Lane.
Derek Adams was especially pleased with Argyle's 2-1 win over Reading yesterday because it demonstrated defensive solidity not just that of an attacking nature. He was also especially keen to praise certain players in particular. Adams eulogised: "It was good, and nice to get on the main pitch to get a game. I thought we were very good going forward. I thought we created good opportunities and so did they. Technically it was good from our point of view, tactically it was good from our point of view, and we stood up to the test. The way we play is open; we'd like to have a clean sheet, there's no doubt about it, but it's not a concern if we continue with the way we're playing just now. It was nice to see Graham scoring. I said to him before the game that we need a goal. It's nice to see Reuben Reid coming back as well. He got 45 minutes under his belt. The players worked extremely hard. Most of them got 85 minutes, which was important, and it's another game under their belt. That's four games now and we've got two to go. All over the park today I thought we were sound. Defensively, there were a couple of skirmishes and chances, but that happens because they were a good side. I thought Reading were very good as well. These teams are going to take the ball out from the back, so it was about closing them down and not allowing them to take the ball to the centre halves.
"Tactically, we got that spot on, and that's good for the players. When they played the long ball forward, we dealt with that as well. I think that there will be a number of them that will go out on loan this season, so we'll look at them, and look at if they could move their way into our team. Today there were a number on show that did really well. They're all players that need to get out on loan and have that experience of playing in the first team. I thought Boateng, for only coming in on Thursday, to pick up the game and to control it for large spells, he was excellent. That was something that I was looking for, and he's given us that. He's good on the ball, he looks forward with a pass as well. He's comfortable and can play in the defensive area as well as going forward and attacking."
Graham Carey contributed to the game with both a goal and an involvement with Reuben Reid's eventual winner and was largely pleased with the display of himself and his teammates. Carey said: "It was good play down the right-hand side. Kelvin Mellor cut a good ball back to the edge of the box and I just made sure I got and good connection and hit the target, and it went in. It took a slight deflection, but it was going in anyway. When Reuben's on the pitch, he's always alive, especially when he's around the box. He's got great feet and he uses his body well. He proved that last year, scoring a lot of goals. It's good to set one up for him and hopefully I can set more up for him. To get on the ball and create is something I like to do, but still put a shift in for the team defensively because, on a pitch this big, we have to keep our shape when we don't have the ball. I like to set up goals and score goals myself, as long as that benefits the team. It was pretty poor in the first half, and the manager let me know at half-time that it wasn't good enough, but, in the second half, I found big Nelse at the back post a few times. As long as I'm consistent with it, we have got great height in the team, so I think we'll score a lot of goals this season. The surface was great. I think it will suit the style of play we want to play. It gives our wingers and full-backs the chances to get forward in wide positions and put crosses in the box. With the pace Gregg has got, he doesn't need to do too much with the ball and he's got a great delivery. If we can make runs into the box, we can feed off that. I think that's going to be a big part of our play this season."
Finally, Adams gave a new positive update on the progress of Reuben Reid's ongoing recovery from injury: "We're just trying to get him back to fitness. He's still a wee bit behind but he's working ever so hard, and he knows where the goals are. He's been fantastic since I came here. He's very strong, he holds defenders off and he knows the way to goal. He's been a renowned goal-scorer here for the last few seasons, and it's important that we continue to work with him and the other strikers. Throughout the season, that's going to be important to us, because we're certainly going to supply him the chances."
Argyle beat Reading under-21s 2-1 today in their first and only home match of pre-season. Both sides missed penalties in the lead-up to half-time. The two sides went in goalless but with both sides having their fair share of chances to take the lead. In the end it was Argyle who did so. A fine long range shot from Graham Carey finding its way into the net via a deflection put the home side in front. However, Argyle did continue the less enviable record of having not yet kept a clean sheet under Derek Adams. Reading equalised with 11 minutes to go but Argyle were to have the last laugh. A good team goal culminating in a Reuben Reid strike eventually won the greens the match. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, Boateng(Lane), Simpson(Purrington), Carey(Hall), Jervis(Rooney), Brunt(Reid), Wylde(Cox). Subs: C Harvey.
Crystal Palace central midfielder Hiram Boateng has joined Argyle on a loan deal until January 2nd. The 19 year old is a combative player who enjoyed a loan spell at League One Crawley Town last season. He was on the fringes of Palace's squad last season and will wear the number 20 shirt during his time with Argyle. Derek Adams said of his newest recruit: "He's a central midfielder, left-footed, strong. We think it will give us a different blend to the midfield players we have already. I am looking forward to working with him for the six months to give him some opportunity to get some game time. He's a player who can create things; he can sit in midfield; he can play in a three or a two. We've been struggling in central midfield and I think it adds to the competition in there. He can take the ball from the back; he can create goals as well; and he's a strong powerful young man. We look forward to getting him in to the squad. He's got experience of league action with Crystal Palace and a short spell with Crawley. We're happy for him to come here. It's a six-month loan deal, it's important that you have players in for that period of time, it's not a short-term fix. It's something that we can possibly look to extend in the January window if the two clubs and the player can agree to that and he does well and we're both happy. I think he'll be a good signing."
Adams also said that his summer transfer business may be nearly complete but it is not quite there yet, citing his desire to sign one or two more loan players: "We'll look in midfield. As well as that, we've got to look in different areas; maybe it's defensively or in a wider area as well. We're looking at areas where we just need to have a ready-made player that can go straight in. You've got to be careful and you don't want to jump in, and we haven't done that so far. We've been patient and I think that's important, as well. I'm happy with the progress we are making," said Derek. "We're starting to have the shape of a team. The players are getting an understanding with each other. The training has been hard work for them and we're working on the formations in training as well."
Boateng himself finally spoke of his reasons for moving to Home Park, saying: "I've been attracted by the manager – he said he likes my style of play and wants me here to help get promoted; hopefully, I can do that and hit the ground running. That attitude where I will give it my all on the pitch and will do what it takes to get the win; my passing ability; and I just fight to the end. It was hard, being on the bench and being that close to it," he said. "I feel that this move is going to give me the opportunity to get a step closer. I have been at Palace since I was nine but I still feel I have a lot to learn in the game. Being here is going to help me do that. I feel that I can show my worth. It's a case of getting experience. I think that is going to help me in the long run – showing I can do it at this level. It will give me more of a chance when I do go back to Palace eventually."
Carl McHugh has stated that he is benefiting from the best pre-season of his career at Argyle this summer and believes the intense schedule is having a similar effect on his team-mates. He also gave positive news about the progress of his ongoing knee injury, stating that he now feels back to his best. The Irish defender said: "It was badly needed. I was struggling a little bit with my knee at the end of the season but, touch wood, it's felt good since we came back. There were a few others, like Peter Hartley and Rubes, but Reuben played 75 minutes last night, so that's really good for him and his rehab. That's really the aim for everyone – be fit for the first game of the season. Mentally, as much as anything, you need the break after the disappointment of the play-offs. But we're back at it now, and looking forward to getting going again for another long season. It's been really good. The first week or ten days was really tough, but really enjoyable, and I feel good. It's probably been the best first week or two in pre-season that I've had. Everyone was fit coming back. If you were not you would've been figured out; there's no hiding place on that running track! Everyone's looked really fit, so it's been a good start. We had football sessions in the morning, which was really tough. Then it was the running track in the afternoon over different distances for each day, so that was really challenging. Everyone came through and that's the main thing. We're still doing double sessions a good few days a week, so it's still a bit tougher. It's obviously a bit different in pre-season because you're going into games maybe not as fresh as you would during the season, but that's what it's about: getting the work into your legs whatever way you can. There haven't really been that many injuries or niggles, so that's the main thing at this stage of the season. We've all got a good bit of game time, so we're just looking forward to the start of the season now."
Derek Adams said of the surprising 3-3 draw at Bath yesterday that his players have had a jolt and that the errors made were simply not good enough. Whilst Adams had a lot of positive things to say about the first half, he had harsh words for his players on the second 45 minutes. He said: "We didn't want half-time to come; half-time's come and it's set us back a wee bit. Bath obviously came back into the game in the second half – they played the ball forward quite quickly – but, in the first half we were outstanding at times, the way we moved the ball; the way we got crosses into the box; the three goals were outstanding. But we can't allow the goals to come as they came in the second half. We could have got carried away with our first-half performance, and you want to get carried away. We've had a wee jolt tonight; a wee reminder – 'Listen, we're not as good as we think we are'. I think that's a good thing at times. It was a good move; good play into the midfield and then out, and then down the side – a great cross by Gregg Wylde and fantastic finish by Jake. It was good for him to get another two goals, and Brunt's got another goal as well. It is good going, but we have to look at the other side of the game; we have to defend better. I think we got a wee bit – I don't like the word – sloppy at times. We didn't finish the game off. We were in total command of the game. I made one change in the second half because I wanted to get 90 minutes out of them. I thought it was important at this time of the season. They were getting a wee bit tired but take nothing away from the goals Bath scored. There was a comedy of errors for a couple of the goals and it's not like them; they have got a good defensive record. Tonight, we allowed that to slip negatively into our game, but we will get that sorted out; we will get that out of their systems. I did say we would probably concede a few goals because of the style of play we are going to play, but not the nature of goals we conceded tonight. They were errors and we could have done a lot better."
Not only did Graham Carey add another assist to his name in the 3-3 draw with Bath but he was also particularly happy in open play to be back playing in the central role that he prefers. Carey explained why he prefers this to playing on the left hand side: "I prefer playing centrally than being out in wide areas, I like to get on the ball, create, and put a shift in for the team defensively, as well. It's a role that I'm enjoying. That's what pre-season is for: getting used to new systems. It's good to get used to the new formations and the style of play that the manager wants. I think that come the start of the season, we'll be ready. As a team, we need to work harder, and we need to be better defensively – it's not just about scoring goals. We need to do better because offensively, we're a real threat and we'll cause every team in this league problems."
Carey made it very clear too that he agreed with the manager about the lack of defensive sturdiness in Argyle's second half performance: "I thought we played some really good football at times in the first half, and a couple of good opportunities in the second half. Maybe we got a bit complacent. You have to give the other team credit as well: they used the slope in the second half to their advantage and got a lot of balls in behind us, but we're a good enough team to deal with that, and we should've. The second half wasn't good enough, and we know the standards we set ourselves in the first half - we were moving the ball at a higher tempo and penetrating the opposition. In the second half, we didn't do that. I don't think that, as a whole and as 11 players, we managed the game well enough. If you're going to have a bad performance, make sure it's in pre-season and not when we're going into the league, but the manager was right on us after the game. He told us it wasn't good enough, and we knew that ourselves. The positives are that we are scoring a lot of goals and creating a lot of opportunities, which is always good for us and the fans. But I think pre-season is where you sure up defensively and get your tactics right. We know that, as a team, that wasn't good enough in the second half."
As the Argyle squad played their second away game of pre-season against Bideford, one of their number found the tie rather more of a homecoming. Recently re-signed left-back Gary Sawyer was born and bred in the North Devon town. To top it off, Bideford's eleven included former Argyle apprentice and Gary's brother Sam Sawyer. The defender said of the nostalgic day: "It's lovely to go back to my hometown, where I grew up. It was nice. My brother played as well which was the icing on the cake really; we both played the same sort of minutes, which was good, and for all my family where I've been away for so long it was a perfect game to have. I started here really as a centre half, so I enjoy playing centre-half, but I would consider myself to be a left-back. I can do that if obviously I'm needed to do it; I'm comfortable in that position so if I have to play that role then I'll happily play it. Obviously everyone needs minutes. We need everyone to be up to speed so rightfully so you give the other lads a chance to do the same. You do the main bulk of the running at the start then the match sharpness doesn't really come until you start playing more games. We've had 2 games and people have played pretty much roughly the same sort of minutes so I don't think you'll see people up to full sharpness until you get to the last game of pre-season really. Everyone's itching at the bit to get at it so it's just nice to get your first couple weeks of pre-season done then you just want to get to the games, you want to start playing in the league. We're not too far away, 3 weeks on Saturday till we play the first game so everyone's ready to go. Obviously I lived up there for a couple of years, so I know Bath's a good club. I know a couple of the players there, they're a good outfit, so it will be another step in the right direction for where we need to get to for the start of the season! I was lucky enough to play here when it was in the Championship and we used to fill the stadium every week. We did well at that level, so there's no reason why it can't go back that sort of level. It will be nice to walk back out in a green shirt - I will feel more at home that way!"
Argyle drew 3-3 with Bath City in a much that was remarkable due to Argyle's surprising throwaway of a 3-0 lead against the sixth tier opposition at Twerton Park. Argyle sailed into what looked like being an unassailable 3-0 lead within the opening half-hour. Bath did get one back shortly before half-time but on the whole Argyle looked safe and were playing good football going into the break. However, Bath scored two further goals in the second half to ensure that the game ended a draw. Their equaliser came from former Argyle youth forward Andy Watkins. Reuben Reid was once again tested as part of his gradual return to fitness. Argyle: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson, Hartley, Sawyer, McHugh, Simpson, Carey, Jervis, Wylde, Brunt(Reid). Subs: C Harvey, Cox, Purrington, Rooney, Hall, Lane.
Derek Adams is pleased with the progress of Reuben Reid and is hopeful that the match action he is getting will see him at full fitness for Argyle's opening day trip to Wimbledon on August 8th. Adams revealed that Reid is progressing well ahead of schedule: "He came through it fine. We will just continue to work on his fitness levels and to get him as many minutes now as we possibly can, in the first team games and reserve team games. We had known for a while that we have pushed him on a bit quicker, trying to get him fitter and stronger. We got him 25 minutes on Saturday which was good for him, and was probably a morale boost as well. Hopefully next week we can get him more minutes and he gets his fitness levels up. He wanted to do well, he's got back quicker then we probably thought he was going to get back and that's probably down to his attitude to getting back fit.
"He's about two weeks behind then the rest of the squad at this moment in time so it's about quickening that up, and to get him extra sessions in as we are doing today, trying to get him quicker and fitter and sharper as soon as possible. That was his first 25 minutes on Saturday so we will keep working with him and making him sharper. We will have to wait and see whether he makes the first game, but we have got a number of games to play and it's just a case of how quickly can we get him up to speed. He's ahead of schedule, and if you asked us a few weeks ago then the first game of the season would have been very difficult. We are more positive then we were."
Reid himself said how happy he was that he was getting fitter by the day after a 2015 of pain so far. The striker explained: "It was nice to be back on the football pitch with no pain. That was the first thing. Also getting the confidence back, running, trying to sprint – I've come a long way in a short space of time. The schedule was that I was probably going to start running yesterday, but I came back for pre-season and have done all the running bar one day, when I had to see the specialist. It's been good news. He was surprised at my progress and I thought, for my own confidence and peace of mind, I needed to get out there as much as I can and prepare for the start of the season. I've been involved in everything apart from the first week, when I didn't get involved in the contact stuff. I just need to try and get into the team now. I've had an operation so it's not going to be how it was before. I have some good days and bad days with it. Thankfully, for the time being, there has been a lot more good than bad but, like the specialist said, it's going to take some time for everything to get back to normal. I'm in a better position than I was at Christmas; there's no pain – that's the best thing."
Finally, former Argyle defensive utility player Anthony O'Connor has signed a contract with League One side Burton Albion where he was on loan in the 2012/13 season. O'Connor's contract with Argyle ran out at the end of last season and whilst he was offered a deal to stay at Home Park, the Irishman elected to move to League One instead. Derek Adams confirmed that Argyle would receive a nominal sum of compensation and also said: "His mind was made up. He's been able to get a club in League 1; he wanted to move, so there's nothing you can do about that. I never spoke to Anthony myself. He was obviously offered a new contract at the end of last season, but he has decided to move to another club in a higher division. Anthony was a centre half playing in midfield and it's an area of the park that we would like to strengthen. We have got players on the pitch that can do that but it's an area we would like to strengthen as well."
Argyle manager Derek Adams was pleased to be able to not only test out more players and formations in their 3-1 win over Bideford AFC, but also avoid any injury scares along the way. Adams gave updates on Cox, Reid and McCormick: "We changed the team about a bit. We gave some boys a chance that hadn't played last week. It was good to just give everyone an opportunity. Lee Cox got 90 minutes, and Aaron Bentley and Ben Purrington played as well, so it was good for the younger kids to get a chance. We've just tried to push Reuben on a wee step further, just to give him 25 or 30 minutes today. It probably helps him mentally as well to see that with all his hard work, he's getting even closer to game action. Luke made a couple of good saves early in the first half, and he's been great since I've come in. He had picked up a wee thigh injury but he was fine today; he played for 85 minutes. That's a pleasing aspect as well. I thought it was similar to Elburton: both teams worked hard. They are always going to cause you problems, and it was just a very good game, so we're delighted. It was good support from Argyle, and good support from the home fans. It was scrappy at times and not really pretty, but I think we controlled the game for large spells. It was difficult to pass the ball on the surface, which was very dry. It limits how quickly you can move up the pitch. As the games step up, we're going to get tested even further. We'll keep on working, keep getting them fit, and we've got another test on Tuesday against Bath."
Adams meanwhile said that he is 'encouraged' by his strikers Jake Jervis and Ryan Brunt who have so far notched up 3 goals a piece in pre-season and re-iterated his commitment to a positive style of play, saying: "It's very encouraging when you get your strikers scoring goals, getting the wide men putting crosses into the box and the midfield players being in there as well. That's the way we want to play, and that's the way I've tried to set my team up. Scoring goals is obviously a positive, and creating chances. When you see your strikers scoring goals, that's a positive at any time of the season. There's a number of areas we've got to work on and we know that. We're just delighted that it looks like we've got everyone through injury-free, which is a bonus."
Argyle completed their second friendly of pre-season with a routine 3-1 victory away to North Devon side Bideford. Adams took the opportunity to make a few changes from the side that beat Elburton on Tuesday as well as attempting some alternative formations. The away side took an early lead when Jake Jervis slotted away Greg Wylde's cross and doubled their lead shortly after half-time when Ryan Brunt netted from close range. Bideford pulled one back shortly afterwards and had their chances to level the match but Jervis scored from the penalty spot to put the win beyond doubt with 5 minutes left. The match was also notable for Reuben Reid's return to match action earlier than expected following his injury lay-off. Argyle: Harvey, Bentley, Nelson(Sawyer), Hartley(McHugh), Purrington, Cox, Simpson, Jervis(Rooney), Carey(Lane), Wydle(Hall), Brunt(Reid).
Derek Adams gave an update on the fitness of injured players Reuben Reid, Lee Cox, Luke McCormick and Deane Smalley who all missed the Elburton game due to injuries of varying severity. He confirmed that Smalley would not return to action until around the end of the calendar year and added: "Lee Cox and Luke McCormick are not too far away from returning to full fitness. We are working with Reuben to get his fitness levels up. We are hopeful that he can get some game time in the pre-season games so we can get him up to speed."
The manager also confirmed that he was looking to make some additions to his squad in the loan market but could not put a timescale on this: "We are just pushing to have them come here because we will be able to give them game time. It's just a waiting game; it might be that it's sooner, or it might be that it's later."
Ryan Brunt has sung the praises of new assistant manager and fitness coach Craig Brewster in improving the conditioning of the Argyle players in what has had to be a frantic pre-season. Brunt said: "The people that have been appointed can really benefit me, and I've seen that in the last few weeks. I think Brew, the assistant now...I can learn so much from him. It's all about progressing myself as a player and that's the main thing I think I can get out of the appointments that have been made. We've already done little bits that will help me. It's just little things that he says that I can pick up on, being a striker myself. I think you can learn from every player on the pitch, whether it be a striker in front of goal, or their attitude to how they live their lives. Everyday is a learning curve, definitely from the manager now and Craig who has come in. It's nice to score a goal against any team. It's a good start. It's some minutes in my legs and that's the main thing really at this stage of the season."
Argyle have announced their matchday ticket prices for this season. Admission prices remain the same as those of the 2014/15 season. Full details can be found on the club's official website where you can also see an overview of the annual summer fans survey as collated by John Lloyd and the Argyle Fans Trust. Martyn Starnes said of the survey: "We are very grateful to John Lloyd and the Argyle Fans Trust for again organising this annual survey, and we appreciate the time that the Green Army have devoted to answering the questions. It is a fantastic effort, all round. We are extremely fortunate to receive such comprehensive year-on-year feedback from our fanbase. The scope of the questions and the large number of respondents means the survey can be seen truly as a definitive benchmark of fans' thoughts and feelings. After a first reading of this year's survey, we are encouraged by many of the findings while we also understand there are some areas in which we fall short of expectations. We will now fully study the results and take on board all its findings. Where we need to, and where we are able, we will act on that feedback to improve supporters' experience of the club, especially on match-days."
Argyle have appointed Jon Back as the club's Football Secretary. Lifelong Pilgrims' fan Jon, 47, succeeds Jason Turner, who left in early July to become General Manager at Newport County. Back, a Plymothian, joins the club following a successful police career which saw him recently retire as Chief Inspector in the Devon & Cornwall force. He will start work in early September. He said of his appointment: "I have worked with some of the country's most senior people in British policing over the past few years, helping to form, govern, and administer complex organisations. I am really looking forward to bringing the skills and experiences that I have developed during this time to my new role at Argyle, helping the club to develop in all areas off the pitch."
Derek Adams first friendly match in charge of Argyle was not only a success in terms of the scoreline. New manager Adams was also very pleased with the way in which it allowed him to try out more than out formation and to test players outside of their comfort zones. Adams particularly mentioned the experiment of Carl McHugh in a deep-lying midfield role: "It gave me time to assess the ones from last season and the new players I knew about, so it was good to see them both coming together. I thought they acquitted themselves well. From his younger days he had played central midfield. It's an area he can possibly play for us this season depending on the formation we play so it was good to see him playing in that area of the pitch, I thought he did really well. It's an area of the pitch that I wouldn't be adverse to playing him again. At times we will play in a 4-3-3, at times we will play in a 4-4-2, at times we will play in a 4-2-3-1, at times we'll play in a lop-sided diamond which we did the another night. We will play in different formations depending on the game we are going to play in, depending on the situation of another team. They might have weaknesses, they might have strengths; but we will have the players to change formation as the season goes on."
McHugh himself said that it was just good to get gametime no matter what position it came in. He also gave his early assessment of his newly signed teammates and the game in general. McHugh opined: "It's just good to get out on the pitch at this stage of the season. Getting minutes in the legs and proper fitness. We did, at times, play some good stuff as well, which is a bonus. Everyone came through without injuries, so that's the main thing. I played there in midfield when I was younger, before I moved to England and went to Reading. I played there for my international team, too. I've usually played centre-half or sometimes at left back, but I'll always try my best, and tonight we did alright, so we'll see how it goes. I always want to get on the pitch as much as I can, all season. After a long break, it's great just to get out there on the pitch and feeling good again. They looked really good – like it will give us a spark going forward. The likes of Graham Carey and Gregg Wylde and Jake Jervis were really good, and Josh Simpson has done very well in midfield. Obviously Gary Sawyer has been here before so everyone knows about him: he's a really solid, experienced full back which you need at this level. They all look really good additions, and I'm sure they'll be massive parts to the team this year. We were saying that the pitch was bit long and a bit heavy but the surface was slick with a bit of rain on it. There's nothing worse than a hard pitch when you're burning your feet and getting blisters, so avoiding that was a good part of it. It was still a warm night, too, so we all got a good sweat on and had a good workout. That's what it's all about, really. We've worked really hard over these last two weeks. It's been the best start to a pre-season I've ever had – tough, but really good. The lads are looking really fit, even this early in the season."
In their first warm-up match of the pre-season, Argyle beat Elburton Villa 4-2 at Haye Road last night, the goals coming from Curtis Nelson and Ryan Brunt in the first half, and Brunt and Jake Jervis in the second. The Pilgrims line-up was: James Bittner (Cory Harvey, 81 mins), Kelvin Mellor, Curtis Nelson, Peter Hartley (Aaron Bentley, 72 mins), Gary Sawyer, Josh Simpson (Ryan Lane, 81 mins), Carl McHugh, Graham Carey (Tyler Harvey, 72 mins), Ryan Brunt (Ben Purrington, 59 mins), Jake Jervis (Louis Rooney, 76 mins) and Gregg Wylde (Callum Hall, 72 mins).
Derek Adams was pleased with his players and delighted by the Green Army turn-out on a miserable July evening. "It was obviously nice to get 90 minutes of football," the manager said afterwards. "It was our ninth day of pre-season, so it's very early and there are a lot of things to work on, but there was also some very good play at times, a lot of chances created, and the fitness levels looked good," he said. "The ones that were here before and the new signings all combined well. It takes a wee bit of time to get an understanding and it will do over the coming weeks, but they'll get there; they'll get an understanding of how we want them to go and play. Tonight was about getting that first 90 minutes and getting those fitness levels."
Around 1,000 Argyle fans refused to be put off by weather on the night. Adam's commented: "It wasn't a great night from the point of view that the mist had come in and it started to rain but it was a great turn-out from the Argyle fans. There were many here and I'm delighted that they all came out on what was a miserable night. I had a very good welcome and I am delighted to be here, and delighted to see them. They are obviously anxious to see the players that were here last season and anxious to see the new signings."
Home Park will see a pre-season game after all; a Reading under-21 side will provide the opposition on Saturday, July 25.
Derek Adams has spoken of his excitement at seeing his players in action for the first time ahead of Argyle's first pre-season game at Elburton Villa tonight. The boss said: "The players have come back in good shape, they've enjoyed training and worked hard. They are all ready for the first game. You want to see how your players are going to do, how they are going to perform. It's exciting times for the season ahead. It's all about the players, and how they are going to do on the field. You always want to get back to playing 90 minutes of football. The players have worked really hard at the running; they've worked hard at the ball work; now they are ready to step up to the next game. Tuesday night is only the first game of six in pre-season but it gives them an idea of how far they've still got to go. We'll give them all the information they need to take on to the field of play, but as we work together we will get a better understanding of each other."
Argyle have asked former striker Owen Pickard to set up a centre of excellence in North Devon. Pickard, the ex-Barnstaple Town manager who played more than 150 games for Argyle, Hereford United and Yeovil Town, hopes eventually to be feeding the best of the region's young talent into Argyle's academy. "It gave me a good start in the game and hopefully we will have that progression with some of the kids who come through," said Pickard. "I know what it takes to make the grade and how difficult it is. I will be able to guide the children in the right direction. It's a way into professional football. Ultimately I would love to be sending kids up all the time who are making the grade." He added: "We are looking for the best players around this area. They can come along and we can assess them and see how it goes."
Derek Adams believes that Argyle's decision to give out only one-year contracts this summer will be a win-win situation for the players and the club. The new manager has signed five new players - Gary Sawyer, Jake Jervis, Gregg Wylde, Graham Carey and Josh Simpson - on one-year contracts this summer, plus one-year extensions for James Bittner and Tyler Harvey. Adams said: "Technically they are on one-year contracts but they have got added incentives. If they do well there can be a second year. It's performance-related and it's something that is beneficial for the player and the club. There is something about having to perform to earn another contract."
Argyle have reached the end of the first week of pre-season training and Adams has been pleased with what he has seen from the players. The Pilgrims have been working on their fitness levels at the University of St Mark and St John, as well as starting to work on how they are going to play under the new manager. Adams said: "The players have responded well. They have had a hard few days and I think they are in good shape. There are a lot of tired bodies, as you have in pre-season, but they are working hard and their attitude has been fantastic. We have worked on getting the base fitness into them and then we will work on sharpening them up."
Argyle have concluded a deal Torquay United that will see the two clubs share facilities at Newton Abbot. Argyle's Carlsberg South West Peninsula Football League and Under-18 sides will play their fixtures at the former Seale-Hayne College, which the Gulls have used as their training base since 2010. Under the terms of the two-year agreement, the Argyle Under-18s will also use the ex-agricultural college for their daily training. Chief executive Martyn Starnes said: "We are delighted to have finalised matters with Torquay United and both parties very much look forward to our joint-venture. Seale-Hayne is a fine facility in which Torquay have made significant investment since they moved their training operation there from the racecourse." The deal solves two problems in one move for Argyle, providing a permanent residence for their youngsters to train and play, and a home venue for their Peninsula League side, after failing to find appropriate amenities nearer to Plymouth. It also provides Torquay with a much-needed financial boost at a time when they have cut their Academy programme.
Seale-Hayne comprises three pitches, as well as dressing-rooms with showers, offices, a medical facility and a small gym, which the Argyle youngsters will share with United's first team. Starnes added: "In an ideal world, all our teams would train and play in and around Plymouth, the city they represent. That is our long-term ambition, of course. Frustratingly, at the moment, this is not feasible; there is a dearth of facilities in and around Plymouth and we have experienced real problems trying to find training pitches to the standard our Academy needs to help them develop our young players. This agreement with our friends and neighbours at Torquay United is an ideal solution for us. It also works for them it is a win-win arrangement."
Argyle have arranged another pre-season fixture, at Forest Green Rovers on Friday 31st July 31 (7.30pm). The game at the New Lawn will be the Pilgrims' last run-out before the first League Two match at AFC Wimbledon the following Saturday. Manager Derek Adams has admitted that Argyle left it too late to arrange their pre-season games. There is still hope of a game at Home Park on Saturday 25th July, but that is far from certain. Adams said: "It should all have been done well before now. You are looking at that around about April time, even before. Clubs have all got their fixtures in hand and it becomes very difficult. It's just the way it is." When asked how frustrating it was for him, Adams replied: "There is nothing I can do about it."
Greg Strong has been appointed as Argyle's new chief scout. Strong played with Argyle boss Derek Adams at Livingston and Motherwell, two of the clubs on the 39-year-old former defender's extensive CV. Greg represented 17 clubs in a 20-year career that saw him played in the Premier Leagues in England, Scotland and Wales. The manager said: "Greg's going to head up the scouting department. We're looking to add to our scouting network over England and Scotland, and then eventually further afield in the future. It will work two ways. He'll go to watch the opponents we'll have on the Saturday, and he'll head things up recruitment-wise by taking my advice on what we need to look for, player-wise. It might be a younger age group, watching development games, but it could be first-team matches too." Adams added: "He's a very hard worker; he has very good knowledge of the game, and good contacts. That will help us go forward. He is enthusiastic and willing to do well."
Derek Adams has confirmed that Curtis Nelson will continue as Argyle's captain next season. Adams said: "I don't see any reason to change captain. He has got a lot of good, experienced players around him. He's very good in the dressing room, with organisation etc. It's young to be a captain but he has been given that responsibility and he has dealt with it well."
Luke McCormick has revealed that he intends to stay an Argyle player for the remainder of his career. He expressed his optimism with the new manager's reign so far and hoped that his efforts this season would earn him a new deal: "I'd like to be here for the remainder of my career, however long that will be. The focus is this year to be honest. I'm contracted until the end of the season, so it's going to be a big season for me. Obviously i'm playing for a new deal, because this is where I want to be. We've worked hard this morning through rigorous testing, and I'm sure there's plenty more hard work to come. I'm sure as the weeks roll on we'll be able to gauge how it compares to others. They are all hard; none of them are easy. It's a necessary evil of being a footballer. I've met a few of the new lads. I met the new manager and met his assistant Craig. There's a good optimism about the place, a good feel. Everything's quite positive. I'm sure that will continue into the season which will be great."
Josh Simpson's arrival at Argyle sees him re-acquainted with his former Crawley boss Craig Brewster who is currently assistant to Derek Adams. Simpson said that it was through Brewster that his move to Argyle came about- he went on to describe his first day of training and his previous experience of Argyle: "I got in contact with Craig Brewster a few weeks ago. I was actually on holiday in Devon with the family, and it's just gone on from there, really. Talks have been ongoing and we managed to get it tied up today. I was with 'Bruce' a few years ago when he was at Crawley. He was caretaker manager when we got promoted from League 2 to League 1 and we've kept in contact since.
"I was originally with Peterborough United and we got relegated from the Championship, along with Plymouth. The manager at the time had a clear-out and he wanted me to seek another club, so I ended up opting for Crawley. They were in the Conference at the time, which was a bit of a backwards step, but it was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made. We had consecutive promotions and it's gone on from there. I managed to get the armband and it was an honour leading the team out every week. I was the longest-serving player there and it was a good few years, but I'm looking forward to my next move here at Plymouth. I'm hoping to get promotion again from League 2 to League 1. I've met a few of the lads already and they said it was a tough day and they'll be sleeping well tonight! I managed to miss out on today, but I'm sure there'll be many days where I'm hurting. That's what pre-season is about – it's about conditioning yourself for the first game of the season.
"I had tendinitis in my hamstring last season so I was out for a while. I've not really had a season like it – I've usually played a minimum of 40 games every year – so last year was a bit of a write-off. I managed to get through it and play the last three games, and now I'm looking forward to making amends and putting things right with Plymouth. The two times that I have played here at Home Park, it's been a great atmosphere. There's always been a good attendance here. I had a look the other day and I think we get 700 or 800 away fans every week, on average, which is incredible support. It's a massive club, and I know they've got big ambitions to get promoted, back in the Championship and even on from there. If I can help in any way, so be it, so I'm looking forward to cracking on."
Derek Adams now has 20 players secured for the coming season and has no plans to add any more in the immediate future. He may, however, utilise the loan market in future: "That's five signings and I think that's us done for now. It gives us the whole of the pre-season to work with the players we have got at the club. A lot of clubs don't want to give out their players at this moment in time. It was important we got the core squad in place and then look to loans after that. It's very difficult to rely on them coming because things can change with injuries and so on. I don't envisage having any trialists over the next wee while but that can change. We are still speaking to different people so there is a possibility of that happening."
Twenty players reported for the start of Plymouth Argyle's pre-season training this morning. However, injured strikers Reuben Reid and Deane Smalley could not take part in any of the various fitness assessments. Summer signings Graham Carey, Jake Jervis, Gary Sawyer and Gregg Wylde were all there as preparations for the 2015/16 League Two campaign got under way. Ryan Lane, a teenage midfielder from the Argyle youth set-up, was also involved in the morning and afternoon work with the first team squad. He has had his two-year apprenticeship extended into this season following a long-term knee injury. Derek Adams said about his first opportunity to meet up with the first-team squad: "The players have come back in and have had their fitness testing. We will assess the results and see what needs to be improved on over the coming weeks. We have done the yo-yo test, agility and jump tests, and speed testing. It's all the things you need to be a fit football player. We are into ball work tomorrow morning. We do the ball work in the mornings and do the running in the afternoons. I think it's important we have a home game before the season starts. We are working on that just now. We just have to get the best opposition we possibly can."
Reuben Reid will see a consultant on Tuesday to receive an update about his progress following the operation that he has recently had on his foot. Reid played through the injury for much of last season before going under the knife after Argyle's play-off exit. Adams explained: "He goes back to see a consultant tomorrow and that should give us a better idea of the time he can come back in and start training with the squad."
New signing Jake Jervis revealed to the media that he was keen to join Argyle as soon as he heard they were interested in him due to his close relationship with Derek Adams. Jervis also went on to give his account of the first day of pre-season: "My move to Argyle came about because I know Derek, who got in touch with me. I enjoyed playing under him last time and scored a few goals so it was definitely something I was keen on from the get-go. We have stayed in touch and I contacted him when he got the job here, congratulating him, and it just developed from there. His teams always give their all and work extremely hard. They are always attacking and look to get goals. It can be all-out attack but with a bit of shape to it. It is all about winning games and that might mean it has to be ugly at times, but there will also be some fancy football. As long as you are winning games nobody can be unhappy really because that is what football is about.
"The gaffer came in and spoke to the boys and has just let us get to know each other and get on with it. As pre-season goes by we will all get to know him and each other more. We have been doing fitness tests, sprint tests, agility and then the yoyo test. It is just a case of getting back into it and it has been good meeting up with all the lads. The first few days of pre-season are always difficult but I always look forward to going back no matter what. Everybody looks forward to getting back and playing football, so it is good for us all to be back out there."
It has also been announced that the players have been assigned the following squad numbers for the new season. Notably, Carl McHugh has been moved to the number 4 shirt and Lee Cox to number 7. New signing Graham Carey has been assigned number ten. The list in full can be found on the official Argyle website.
Peter Hartley is of the belief that Argyle should tackle this season step by step rather than looking too far ahead of themselves. His immediate priorities are pre-season and our opening game at Wimbledon on August 8th. He said: "We had a good season last year, but in my opinion I still think we under-achieved. We were one of the better teams in the league and our consistency just let us down in the end. We have got to just build on what we achieved last season as a team, and we've got to aim for promotion, whether its through the play-offs or automatically. You take baby steps, you don't look at the end goal; you look at the first game of the season at Wimbledon. He had a chat with the boys and he seemed like a decent bloke," said Peter. "Obviously he's going to work us hard, but that's what everyone expects. Everyone wants to be fit. If you're a good footballing team and you're a fit team as well, not many teams will beat you. It's been good. It's good to see the boys again. We got the yo-yo test out the way this morning and we've got a few track runs this afternoon. We can go get a bite to eat and go again this afternoon."
Argyle rounded off the day by confirming their 5th signing of this summer, former Crawley Town central midfielder Josh Simpson. Simpson has spent four years as a regular with Crawley as they climbed up through the leagues. He was offered a contract to stay with the Sussex club this summer but instead elected to rejoin his former coach Craig Brewster at Argyle. He, like every other acquisition this summer, joins on a one-year contract. Essex born Simpson has previously played for Cambridge City, Cambridge United and Southend and is described as a dynamic box to box midfielder. Adams expressed his delight at signing the midfield man, saying: "I am delighted to get his signature. He was formerly at Crawley – he's been captain there for a number of seasons now – and is a central midfield player, a forward-thinking one, as well. It's good to get him in. Craig was there and gave me good reports on him. We've watched him as well. He's 28 years of age, he's got good experience, and it'll help the younger lads in the squad. I think it is important we get a majority of the signings in early in the pre-season just to get them for the harmony of the squad and realise the work-ethic we are going to have, going forward. By the end of the week, we'll have a better idea of that. We have good idea of the ones that have looked after themselves over the pre-season; the ones that maybe have a wee bit of work to do. Everybody has improvement to do, fitness wise, through the pre-season – that's what it's for. There's not a lot of time. We have got to get up to speed quickly. So the fitter the players come back, the better it is for them and us."
Pre-season training begins for Argyle tomorrow morning and with 19 players currently in place, new manager Derek Adams spoke highly of his newest recruit for the greens. He stated the ways in which he feels versatile attacking midfielder Graham Carey can add to the squad: "Graham can play in a number of positions," said Adams. "He's a left-sided midfield player but he can play in a three; he can play in a wide area; he can play off the front; he can play off the right-hand side as well. So he's quite versatile in the midfield area. He's one that'll like to take the ball all over the park. He's creative; he's got an eye for goal; and he's strong and deceptively quick, as well. We like to get the ball wide and play. Graham also likes to play in the park a wee bit – possibly in a midfield two or three, where he can get on the ball and dictate play. He can pass the ball forward and have that creative edge to his play. I think that, from his point of view, he wants to score more goals and he's capable of scoring more goals. He's very good from dead-ball situations. He did really well for me in two spells at Ross County, and I just think he's the type of player that adds balance to the side. It's another left-sided player that we've added to the squad, and I like to have a wee bit of balance in the team, so hopefully he can bring that. I think those three players that we've taken in from further north are ones that are hungry. They want to do well; they want to progress their careers; and they see this as a stage where they can do that. We will work with them, and I think they can add to the squad we have here already."
Carey himself had this to say about his ex and current manager Adams as well as about the start of pre-season in general: "I've lived away from home since I was 16 so, anywhere I go, I settle really quickly – it doesn't really bother me. If there are any players I know and a manager I know, that obviously helps, but I'm just looking forward to meeting the rest of the squad on Monday. I'm really looking forward to it. I actually played down here at Home Park, and we got beat 2-1! I remember the atmosphere really well, and that was another thing that intrigued me about coming here. The atmosphere was brilliant on that day, and if we can get that atmosphere again next season, it would be great. Any pre-season is tough. Every player dreads it for some reason, but it's got to be done, and I think the people that put the most into it will get the most out of it as well. It first started with the manager getting the job. I know him quite well from my time at Ross County and I enjoyed playing under him, as well. It's been a few weeks in the works, but ever since he called me when he got the job, I was interested. I'm looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully it will be a good season and we can push for promotion, which is obviously the aim. I tend to just score goals from outside the box, really! I'd like to chip in with a few more goals and assists this season, but firstly – hopefully – get in the team. Hopefully, we'll have a strong squad with a lot of competitiveness for places. It's something that I've always managed to do, score quite good goals, but it's not all about that. It's about teamwork and working for the team, and hopefully I can do that. Derek is straight-forward: he tells what you need to do and plays attacking football. That's what he did when I was at Ross County with him, and that's what he'll continue to do, because that's what he wants to do. I think it's the best form of football, in my opinion: trying to entertain the fans but also win games."
Argyle's 4th signing of the summer is another with whom Derek Adams has previously worked. Left-sided 26 year old Graham Carey has joined the club on a one-year contract after he left Ross County at the end of last season. Carey has represented Ireland under-21s and is said to be attack-minded and excellent in dead ball situations. His former clubs include Celtic, St Mirren and Bohemians.
Derek Adams has spoken very highly of new signing Gregg Wylde following his signature being secured for Argyle yesterday. Adams then went on to talk about the style of play that he hopes to implement at Argyle and the further signings that he hopes to make, saying: "Gregg has good experience. He's played for Rangers in the Premier League and Champions League. He's played in England before with Bolton and Bury. He's got a good pedigree: a winger, very quick and likes to get to the line and get the ball in the box. We'll like to get the ball down and pass it, but we'll also like to get the ball wide as well. We like to play with that entertaining style," said Adams, "and with the pitch here looking lovely and it being wide enough, we can get players into good, forward areas where we can get crosses in the box for strikers and midfield players. The signings that we've made have all played in England before, and the ones that we hope to make in the future have all played in England too. It's important that they know what it's like here. I've still got a couple of signings that I would like to make before the end of the week. I'm still working on it, but hopefully we can get that done. The football club itself is one that wants to move forward. We've had to move quickly; I've not been in long but I feel it is important that we get players in before pre-season training begins, and get a nucleus of the squad working with each other, enjoying each other's company, and learning from each other."
Adams also confirmed that plans are well underway for Argyle manager him to rigorously put his players to the test during pre-season training. He said that training would be gruelling but that he expected all of his players to fully put their all into it for the greater good: We start on Monday, July 6. Everything's just getting prepared this week; the coaching staff are very busy organising the pre-season. We'll have the majority of the squad in by the opening day of pre-season – we might have two or three players to add to that during pre-season, and that'll be the squad we'll go with. We'll have a fitness test on Monday morning, then we'll have a track run in the afternoon. We'll go into a bit of ball-work on Tuesday and back to the track in the afternoon. It's that kind of busy schedule that we have for the first fortnight, and it's going to be hard work for them. I would expect them to be in very good shape. We start pre-season in the way we're going to start the season. If they're not in good shape, they'll be lagging behind, and if they lag behind, it becomes very difficult for them. They'll have to be in excellent shape to start the pre-season, and if they're not, they'll have a wee problem."
Finally, Adams made a point of praising his coaching set-up at Argyle and explaining what he sees to be the main benefits of having Paul Wotton and Craig Brewster around. He explained: "I think it's important you keep people like Paul, who have been here for a number of years, at the club. People like that know the tradition of the club and they know what the fans here want. They have the experience behind the scenes perhaps that myself and Craig don't yet have. Craig's got vast experience and played until he was 42. He's managed at the top level in Scotland twice, with Inverness. That experience can only help us here and we have Paul alongside us as well. It's a good blend and I'm sure we will work well together. We all have different areas that we excel in and when we do that, we'll work well together. The one thing you want to do is make players better and make the team ultimately better. The three of us will be quite hands-on, on the training field. Every coach has different ways of working, but hopefully we can hit the ground running in pre-season."
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