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THE DAILY DIARY

A Round-up of Argyle News

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Wednesday 30th June 2004

Argyle have announced that as well as playing a friendly at St Blazey on July 10th, they will also send a team to Plymouth Parkway on the same day. The  first-team squad will be split in half for the games with youth players making up the remainder of each side

Argyle have changed the opponents for their tour fixture on July 17th. They will now play local part-timers SV Bad Aussee who replace original opposition SV Gmunden

Bobby Williamson has promised Argyle fans that his squad will be in peak condition for the start of the new season. Williamson revealed that after wishing his players a 'good holiday' at the end of last term, he advised them to 'watch their diet and levels of fitness' during the break. "I hope they heeded my warning," he said. "But to be honest, knowing what excellent professionals they all are, I'm not expecting any of them to be too out of shape. I told them to go and enjoy themselves and have a good break and allow their bodies to recover from the strains of a full season. I've got to know the lads pretty well over the past few months and I have a great respect for them. But I will expect them to repeat that level of dedication both over the pre-season and when the season begins. Any player who is not prepared to work hard to achieve top fitness has no place being at a club like Argyle." The players are due to return to full training on Friday and Williamson continued: "The boys are back on Friday and over the next three days we will have some fairly light training. During that time we'll be able to monitor their fitness and weight but from Monday onwards we will be going full tilt in building up their fitness. However, people shouldn't judge their fitness too critically during the friendlies. Like when we go to Austria, the lads will be training in the morning and then playing in the evening. So, don't expect the boys to performing at their best then. But, we'll be working hard towards reaching our target. Like most managers I'm a great believer in sending out teams in the best condition possible and adhering to our work ethic. I think that is really important, as I believe the supporters have a right to expect that level of commitment from the players. And given how well the season tickets have been selling, it's even more reason for all of us, players and coaches to deliver the goods. Therefore, I can assure everyone that whatever else happens next season, the players will be at 100 per cent fitness. Nothing less will be tolerated."

29th

Argyle's new intake of apprentices have begun their MASE (Modern Apprenticeship of Sporting Excellence) course which has replaced the old YTS format. The eight newcomers are: Daniel Rose, Chris Zebroski, Mark Robotham, Liam Drew, Chris Reski, Luke Summerfield, Scott Laird and Clay Bond. Stuart Gibson said: "The boys are all very talented which is why we signed them. But I've told them that I'm making just two guarantees: that they'll get 110 per cent support from me and the club, but that some of them may not be here when the two years is up. The rest is up to them - if they show the dedication, commitment, ambition and drive which is needed - then they stand a very good chance of succeeding. Like most clubs in our position, Argyle are great believers in bringing through home-grown talent. We do not have a sugar daddy or wealthy benefactor like, say, Chelsea, so we have to place our faith in youngsters. And we're more than happy to do that, as to be honest, there's nothing more rewarding than seeing one of the young scholars progress to the first team. That's the opportunity that could be awaiting them - to follow the likes of McCormick and Connolly and become well-paid professional footballers." Bobby Williamson echoed Gibson's comments and promised that he would follow their progress with interest. "The youth system is the lifeblood of football clubs and I am especially interested in seeing how the lads progress," he said. "They've all got the ability and potential, it just remains to be seen if they have the required dedication, commitment and the excitement to become full-time pros. Because if they're not excited at what's on offer for them right now, then maybe they've not picked the career that is not right for them. But we'll encourage them to work hard and establish themselves and will remind them of just why they are here. I wish every one of them all the best of luck and promise them our full backing."

28th

Bobby Williamson has urged fans to have 'realistic expectations' of his new-look squad after the details of next month's tour of Austria were confirmed. "I can't stop fans' expectations," he said. "But I hope that the supporters will have realistic expectations of just where the players are likely to be. Don't forget, the players will be training every morning as well as playing a match later on in the day. So, basically, I'm saying to the supporters 'enjoy the trip but don't expect too much at this stage of the year'. From experience, I know that having a good pre-season or a bad pre-season guarantees nothing for the upcoming league campaign. We will try and give all the players some useful time on the park. It's no good me having a first XI or so on fit in time for the season, this is a squad game nowawadays, everybody has to be in great condition. I've had less than successful pre-seasons and the team has started well and, of course, the exact opposite. So, I always bear that in mind and I hope the fans do, too. I don't know anything about the opposition we'll be playing, but the main purpose is to get the players fit in time for the new season. It doesn't matter to me whether the opposition is less hard or more hard than we are expecting. Either way, the run out and the time the boys spend together will be beneficial." The tour will be Williamson's second trip to the Austrian camp and he has great respect for both the facilities and the area: "It's a very beautiful area and the training camp is second to none. I have been there before when I was manager of Kilmarnock and we enjoyed it then and I'm sure we will do so again this time. Over the 10 days, I don't think we'll be experimenting too much, but basically just working on our fitness levels. We're not going to be travelling very far so the players will not be more than an hour away from these venues, I believe. And that's good, too, for the fans who will be coming out and, hopefully, enjoying themselves. It's an ideal opportunity, not only for the new players who have been signed over the close season to get more acquainted with their team-mates. But also for supporters to meet new people and make new friends. Everyone at the club, I know, is looking forward to the trip."

25th

Argyle today confirmed the friendly fixtures for their tour to Austria. On July 17th they will play Austrain Third Division side SV Gmunden (Gmunden Stadium 6pm). On July 20th they face Czech side SK Dynamo Ceske Budejovice (Golling 6pm) and finally play German Second Division side SV Wacker Burghausen (Bad Goisem 6pm), who they also played on last years tour 

Bobby Williamson is looking for a flying start to the new season. "Obviously it's always good to have your first match at home," he said. "And we'll be looking to claim the three points from this game, as it's always good to get off to a winning start. That game and the next few matches following will help us take stock of where we are. But our main focus will be on the first match with Millwall and I'm not looking any further ahead than that. I'm not going to go down the road of making rash and stupid predictions. Anyway, it's a bit of a funny situation this season, isn't it? Because, while it's obviously everybody's first match on that Saturday, we're also now in this new Coca-Cola Championship. So, instead of being in the First Division, we're newly-promoted along with the rest of the teams in this new division. But like I said, our focus will be on winning our first match of the season." Paul Stapleton agreed that it was 'fantastic' to start the season at home. He said: "Yes, to have your first match in a new division at home is fantastic. And with it being Millwall, who played in the cup final and are in the UEFA Cup next season, as well as hoping to gain promotion. It will be a real test, but we're not bothered about that, because we always knew that playing in this league was never going to be easy. But, that's what we fought for and won two championships to get. After Millwall, we travel to Brighton which, coincidentally, will be the third anniversary of this board being in charge at Home Park. It makes my head spin to see how far Argyle have come in that time. And now that they are out I'll be able to do my revised financial figures and look at the cash flow situation. For example, although we only have two home games in September, they are both against very big clubs and are consecutive. First of all we have Leeds at home on the Tuesday and then we have Wolves on the Saturday. Even allowing for one of them being a midweek match, they should both attract bumper gates, particularly the second one. If I was having a charity bet on who I thought would end up as champions, I have to say I'd put my money on Wolves. But the whole fixture list is littered with exciting matches, for example, there's Sunderland for our second home game with Nottingham Forest the third. Although the Forest game is pencilled in for August Bank Holiday Monday, I believe it's going to be moved to the Tuesday, because of Navy Days over the weekend. But then we have the likes of West Ham coming down, our old friends QPR then Neil Warnock's Sheffield United. The list goes on - it's just so good. Without being greedy, in the FA Cup we want a Premiership team, someone easy like Southampton. And likewise with the Carling Cup, a nice easy tie with, say, Torquay would be nice!"

24th

Argyle's fixtures for next season were announced today and can be found in full here. Argyle start the season at home against Millwall on August 7th. Paul Stapleton said: "It's a mouthwatering prospect. Everywhere you look, there's something that grabs your attention. We start at home against the FA Cup finalists, whose chairman has said they are going to have a go at getting in the Premiership, so it will give us a good indication of the standard, then we play Leeds and Wolves in the same week. I'm looking forward to playing West Ham. I don't recall playing against them very often, so that will be a bit special. That's my wedding anniversary and we had been thinking of going away, but maybe we'll have to put that off now."

Tickets for Argyle's friendlies against Portsmouth and Southampton will go on sale on Monday, June 28th. Green Members will have until July 11th to book their seats for the matches, and White and Pilgrim members will be also be able to buy tickets for the matches during this period. The tickets go on general sale on July 12th. Prices are: Adults £12.00, Concessions £8.00 and Children £4.00

23rd

Peter Jones said the club is confident that the 'fans' demand had not finished yet' after season ticket sales crashed through the 10,000 barrier at the weekend. Jones also said that 'we have a new target - 12,000 season ticket sales, we think that is completely possible'. He said: "Yes, definitely, I think that when fans see how many have been sold already, those without tickets will be keen to secure them for next season. I don't think fans' demand for tickets has finished yet. When the fixture list comes out tomorrow and people see the quality of the opposition that will be on view at Home Park from August onwards, we think it will trigger another rush. We're optimistic that when fans see in writing that the likes of Leeds, Wolves, Ipswich, Sunderland, Leicester will be coming to Plymouth, they'll want to make sure of getting a place and will sign up. When we announced the schemes following our promotion as champions of Division Two, we set 10,000 as our target. That has already been passed and obviously, we are absolutely delighted that figure has been overtaken. Having that kind of revenue guaranteed will obviously benefit the club - having a good cash flow is extremely important in running a football club." The season ticket demand, argued Jones, is a relatively new phenomenon with Argyle fans. "I don't believe there was a culture for Argyle fans buying season tickets in the past," he said. "For example, in the 2001-2 season we had only sold around 1,200 tickets - so we have, in a short space of time, increased that figure ten-fold. "And last season we had sold around 4,000-odd tickets, so the increase and interest is remarkable and very pleasing."

21st

Tickets for Dave Smith's testimonial match against Torquay United go on sale to season-ticket holders on Wednesday, 23rd June and will be priced at £10 for adults and £5 concessions. Tickets will then go on general sale from July 7th

Argyle sold over 10,000 memberships up to the end of the discounted sales period last Sunday. 8273 Green Memberships were sold, 1572 White Memberships and 354 Pilgrim Memberships giving a total of 10,199. Director Phill Gill said: "These figures are fantastic, it just shows how the fans have got behind the success of the club."

17th

Torquay United are rumoured to be interested in Ian Stonebridge. Leroy Rosenior has already made inquiries about his availability and with David Graham having moved to Wigan Athletic they may make an offer for the striker

Argyle reserves will play 16 league games in the Pontin's Holidays Combination next season, two less than last year following the resignation of Oxford United

Argyle have been drawn away to Elmore in the first round of the St Luke's College Challenge Bowl next season and the game must be played by October 31st. Argyle will be away to Bideford if they beat Elmore

16th

Stevie Crawford is not worried his move to Argyle will damage his international career. He said: "If you are doing well enough then I don't think it will do my chances any harm." Crawford had to wait six years between his Scotland debut against Ecuador in 1995 and his second cap in 2001. "I never lost my desire to play for Scotland," he said. "There was a big gap between the first cap and the second cap, but I'm still keen and want to play at that level. As I say, I don't think this is going to harm my chances in any way." Crawford is relishing his second crack at English football having spent one season with Millwall in 1996/97. "It was my decision to leave Millwall," he said. "I felt it was a decent offer to go back up to Hibs. The one regret is that I left English football too early. That's why I have shown the desire to come down here. While I was at Millwall, I think I grew up off the park, being away from home. Some people look at it as a year wasted but I think I gained a lot of experience over that season."

Paul Stapleton does not expect any more new arrivals before the start of the season, but did not rule it out completely. "I think it's probably the last for now," he said. "We have said it was the last a few weeks ago but you should never say never. This time, I think we have got a big enough squad and a good enough squad that the manager wants to work with those players. He did say to me that he likes the chance to work on different ideas on how to play the game and what personnel to use. He has inherited a really good squad from Paul Sturrock and he has added, what seem to us, five very good newcomers to augment what we have already got. I think when you look at the improvement of the squad over the last three or four years it's terrific, fantastic - or whatever word you want to use. We are excited now for June 24 and August 7. We can't wait for it to come along." Stapleton insisted the board were not prepared to spend beyond their means and risk financial hardship. "Bobby had a preliminary budget when he first came down and we were able to review that with the season ticket sales we have got," said Stapleton. "We are still keeping it very sensible, by the way, because we have to. I'm not going to do anything different. I'm deadly serious about not over-stretching our finances. We have set our ceiling, but if Bobby comes to us in January and says 'we are eighth in the league, how are the finances?' then we will look at it, like we did with Paul Sturrock." Stapleton believes the warm welcome Stevie Crawford received when he arrived at Home Park for talks was an important factor in his decision to sign for Argyle. Stapleton said: "Stevie was looked after when he came down. He liked the place. The sun was shining. Phill Gill in particular, looked after him a great deal and I met him last week. I told him we were a family club and his children would be welcome. We have got a crèche on matchdays. It's all about how you sell the club."

15th

Paul Stapleton has praised the Argyle fans for their part in the club's signing of Stevie Crawford. "We always said, that, if the fans show support for the club, we'll make sure the playing squad is good enough," he said. "We've had a terrific response so far to season-tickets - the record ever - and, because the fans have shown that commitment to us, we've been able to say to the manger 'We're committed to increasing the squad to the level you want'." Stapleton, who confirmed that Crawford has signed a three-year contract, with an option for a fourth, continued: "I am really excited about this signing. We took over this club when it was in the doldrums and we have raised it up and we are in the old Division One - I'm still getting used to calling it the Championship. We are also able to attract players of the quality of Stevie Crawford to this club. It's certainly a measure of how far our club has come in a relatively short period of time, and how ambitious we are to take it even further. If the fans come behind us, there is no limit to what we can achieve. So when the season starts in August, Argyle will not just be making up the numbers. We, as a board, have shown our commitment to our new manager. I hope and believe our tremendous fans will respond by backing Bobby and the team next season."

Stevie Crawford has moved south because he feels Argyle have more to offer than any of the other clubs that tried to sign him. "I'm ambitious," he said yesterday, "and, knowing Bobby Williamson from his time in Scotland, I know he is too. I hope that will show in a positive way next season. The ambition is here and I know that this club are not going into the First Division just to make the numbers up. One of the big factors behind my move is the squad of players here. I've heard there's a great team spirit here and it's that sort of atmosphere I enjoy working in. The club will get the best performances out of me that way." Crawford likes what he has seen of the Westcountry so far: "It was great that the club were willing to fly my wife and the kids, and my agent, down for a second time. We've been well looked after and wined and dined," he said. "It's gestures like that, the wee things, that make a difference and make you want to come to a place. But first and foremost I'm ambitious to play First Division football in England. It's a great challenge for me. If Plymouth's ambitions match mine, then we're heading in the right direction." Crawford had several other offers to consider: "There was a four-year contract on the table at Dunfermline," he said, "but I was ambitious to give England a crack. I played down here with Millwall for one year when I was about 21. There was a burning desire in me to do well down here." 

Bobby Williamson said of Stevie Crawford's signing: "As far as I was concerned, I had made all my signings for the summer. I didn't think a player of Stevie's attributes and quality would become available. But once I was aware he was available, we moved very quickly and it's great the board given me the backing to do so. It certainly is a major bonus to get Stevie. When a player of his quality becomes available I have got to do my best to get people like that to this club, to complement the squad we have already got. As a manager you want to work with the most talented players you can."

14th

Scottish international forward Stevie Crawford has become Argyle's latest signing. Crawford joins Argyle on a free transfer from Dunfermline Athletic despite interest from Aberdeen, Wigan, Sheffield United and Cardiff. Bobby Williamson is currently away on holiday, but he said: "Stevie is a quality player and I am delighted he wants to come and play for us. I tried to sign him when I was manager of Kilmarnock, but lost out to Dunfermline, so I am pleased to have finally got him. He is a Scottish international and it is a measure of how this club is progressing that he is joining us. He's ambitious; he wants to do well in England, and we're giving him the stage to do that it's up to him now. He will be a fine acquisition for our squad. We now have a range of strikers competing for places, all different types." Phill Gill said: "This signing - of an international striker - demonstrates both how far our club has come in a short space of time, and the ambition that we have to go further. I hope it sends a message to our marvellous supporters and everyone else who is taking note at what is happening at Home Park that we do not intend to be merely making up the numbers next season."

11th

The FA have confirmed that David Friio will be suspended for the first two matches of next season following his sending off in the final game of last season. Usually, that offence results in a one-match ban, but because Friio had been sent-off earlier in the season, the suspension has been doubled

10th

John Blackley will be staying on the coaching staff at Argyle next season and Bobby Williamson has confirmed that Gerry McCabe is set to join him from Hibs. Williamson said: "John will be staying with me. I have known him for a long time and he's a very good coach. He's honest and trustworthy. We have been on coaching courses together and, as managers, our teams have played against each other. It will be good to work with him again. Me and Gerry also go back a long way, we played together at Clydebank." Williamson wished Kevin Summerfield well in his new role with Southampton. He said: "I'm very pleased for Kevin. He made no secret of the fact he wanted to follow Paul and that's what has happened. I would like to thank him for what he has done at Argyle and wish him all the best at Southampton." Summerfield had two years remaining on his contract with Argyle but the club have let him leave without seeking any compensation from Southampton

9th

Paul Stapleton confirmed today that Kevin Summerfield is joining Southampton. He said: "I am led to believe there will be an announcement today that from July 1st Kevin will be joining Southampton Football Club. I would like to place on record my appreciation of Kevin for all his work at the club, both as a player and on the coaching side. He has been dedicated to the cause and we thank him for that, especially during the dark days after Paul left. I'm sure it will be a big wrench for him to leave Argyle but you can't blame for him for wanting to take the opportunity to work at a Premiership club with Premiership players. Paul seems to be looking forward to having him there on his coaching staff. Kevin has proved himself to be a top-class coach, which Paul and Southampton have recognised. I wish him all the best. We look forward to seeing Paul and Kevin back at Home Park when we play Southampton in pre-season." Summerfield said: "It is a big opportunity and a great challenge and I cannot wait to get started." Summerfield was still under contract at Home Park but an Argyle spokesman said: "We do not expect any compensation from Southampton." John Blackley, however, will not be joining Sturrock at St Mary's but Argyle are unable to say whether he will remain at Home Park as coach next season. The spokesman said: "Everyone is away at the moment and it would be entirely inappropriate to comment on the manager's plans for the new season while he is not here."

7th

Argyle announced today that they had broken all previous season-ticket records with nearly 6,500 Green Memberships already sold. Around 1,000 White Memberships have also been sold and Pilgrim Memberships are proving more popular than last season. Paul Stapleton said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Green Army is so looking forward to the new season. However, it's no surprise that, with a new manager, four excellent signings already in the bag, and so many high-profile matches coming up, there is a real buzz of excitement. The fans who have already bought their tickets are certainly taking the best option. Not only do they qualify for the early-bird discount, but they will avoid the added expense and hassle of buying a ticket on match-days, which we expect to be very busy for much of next season remember all the queues we were getting in the second half of last season? I have always said that, if we could get to 10,000 it would be magical."

Tony Capaldi won his fifth cap for Northern Ireland in their 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago yesterday

Argyle will play their first pre-season friendly at St Blazey on July 10th

Mathias Doumbe is confident he will have no trouble fitting in at Argyle. "I'm really looking forward to meeting everybody at the start of pre-season," he said. "I have not heard about the goalkeeper but I know about David Friio from a friend of mine and I have been told he's a really good player. For me, it's not a problem if you don't have any French players in the team, as long as you can speak the language. But it's always nice to have people who you can speak to in French." Despite enjoying his time with Hibernian, Doumbe could not resist the challenge of a move to Argyle. "It's another city, new fans and it's another championship," he said. "It's a big challenge for Plymouth in the First Division, and for me. That made it quite interesting. I had to take a decision and, for me, the best thing was to go to Plymouth. I'm really excited.. There are some great teams, great players and great stadiums in the First Division." Doumbe will be reunited with Bobby Williamson: "It's good when you see the manager appreciates you," said Doumbe. "I was really pleased to sign for him. It's a good challenge for him, and for me." Doumbe was cautious when asked about Argyle's prospects for the coming season. "I don't know, it's a little early to talk about that," he said. "First of all, we need to have a good preparation. We will see how the first couple of games go and then maybe we can say things."

4th

Bobby Williamson is convinced Keith Lasley will be successful in English football. He said: "Keith has been an ever present for Motherwell for the past four years. He had a fantastic season this year. I have seen him against all the top teams and he has acquitted himself well. He was the man-of-the-match against Celtic in one of the games at Parkhead. That shows you he's a player. There were 60,000 there and it was quite partisan, but he stood out in that game. He will be a good acquisition for us, but all the players I have signed know the script. They have got to earn the right to play in the team. Just because I have signed them it doesn't necessarily mean they will walk straight into this side. I feel we have got a good squad of players, based on the evidence of what I saw in the last three games of the season and what I have seen on video, previous to that.. The new guys will give us strength in depth, and it's up to them to impress in pre-season and get the shirt at the start of the season." Lasley was offered a new contract by Motherwell, while Aberdeen and Burnley were also interested in signing him, but, after talks with Williamson and Phil Gill, he opted for Home Park. Williamson said: "There are a lot of players out there and Keith was one of quite a few I have spoken to. I try to make it clear to these guys that if they hang about too long then somebody else might take up the mantle and join us, but I'm pleased Keith is the one we have got here, along with the rest of the new guys. I have watched them develop in the Premier League and they have become very good players. I'm hoping that, given the right breaks, they can establish themselves in the First Division." Lasley favours a central midfield role but he can also play out wide, and even at full-back and Williamson said: "I think most midfield players like to play in the middle, where they are more involved. They call it the graveyard shift in the wider areas, where you are expected to defend and cover your full-back, and get up and provide crosses for your strikers and things, but he can play there as well. He can play any side, which is good, and the strength of the lad is the way he keeps possession. He's not afraid to try to play that telling pass, which can create a scoring opportunity. There's no point in having players who just want to keep possession without attempting to create chances. Keith will do that. He can tackle and he can win his headers. He's an all-round midfield player."

Bobby Williamson is not planning to make any more signings before the start of next season. "That will be it," he said. "Twenty-one outfield players and two goalkeepers is a fair enough size of squad. Barring injuries and suspensions, hopefully that will be enough to see us through the season. There are no transfer windows down here so if we do suffer loss of form or anything else then we can always add to the squad. There are spare players out there who can come in and see us through a spate of injuries. Thankfully, Phil Gill has worked hard with all the agents of the players we have signed, and they have come here at prices we can afford. That's good. It's important our wage structure is manageable. The way forward now is to work hard with our younger players and make sure this time next year these are the guys who are breaking through, and we don't need to go into the transfer market. Depending on how the season pans out will dictate what we have got to do." Williamson has been linked with several other players during the close season but is content with his squad. "It's fantastic," he said. "It's a long time since I have managed to do that, getting the players that I have targeted signed up early so they can all start on a level footing. In previous seasons, we haven't managed to acquire playing staff until the end of pre-season and they have got a lot of catching up to do and haven't played any matches.. Now, we are on a good footing and everybody starts afresh. It's up to them to impress."

Mathias Doumbe's signing was today confirmed by Argyle. He joins Argyle on a free transfer from Hibs and has signed a two-year deal. Doumbe is relishing playing in England, saying: "It's a challenge. The First Division is a good level. I have ambition, as well," but his expectations for the coming campaign are realistic. He said: "You could say 'get into the Premiership' but I think that is going to take a while, so I would say 'get a good position in the league' and maybe have a nice cup story." Bobby Williamson has said of Doumbe: "He's pacy, he's strong in the air, and he's not a bad man-marker. He can nullify the threat of strikers at times."

3rd

After completing the signing of Keith Lasley Bobby Williamson said: "I've admired Keith for a number of years now. I've watched his progression with Motherwell. He was an ever-present in their team and he's done very, very well for them. He's one of those players that, when he gets the ball, you think something could happen. I did point out to him he'd find it hard to get into our team, but he's come here to push himself forward and try and establish a first-team place. That's the challenge for every player here now. We've added a few players to the squad to compliment what we've already got. None of the guys who have done ever so well over the last couple of years is going to get pushed aside. He keeps the ball well, very seldom gives it away; he's an intelligent passer, and, when he wants to, he can put his foot in. He'll be looking to make things happen when we've got the ball, and, when we haven't, he knows his defensive duties as well. Keith has an excellent work ethic and exactly the right attitude that I am looking for from my players. When you combine ability and attitude as a player you are likely to achieve your goals."

Keith Lasley has joined Argyle, signing a two year contract yesterday. He said: "I have always been ambitious and the chance to join Plymouth was one I felt I couldn't turn down. Last year the average home gates were around the 12,000 mark. But with Leeds, Sunderland, West Ham and Ipswich all in the First Division, the expectation is that the home gates could be as high as 18,000. The other side of that coin is that I will have the chance to play at grounds like Elland Road and Upton Park and, at this stage in my career, that was just too good to knock back. I was at Kilmarnock as a youngster and I was 17 and left just before Bobby Williamson joined, but obviously he is a well-respected coach and the fact that he is Scottish has made the move doubly attractive. I am sad to leave Motherwell as I've had a couple of great years there and thoroughly enjoyed myself under Terry Butcher. Ambition is one of main reasons why I'm here. I've been concentrating on my football and I feel I've had quite a good season but it's flattering to know that other teams are interested in you. I had four good years there but I just felt it was time to move on. It is a new challenge, playing down here, and one I'm looking forward to. There's a few of us Scots here so I'm adding to the invasion, if you like, but I'm happy to be here. Obviously the club has had a good few years now and hopefully we can extend that next year."

Tony Capaldi won his fourth Northern Ireland cap in their 2-0 win over St Kitts and Nevis

2nd

Argyle are trying to find clubs to take both Matt Villis and Gary Sawyer on loan next season, Bobby Williamson believing it important they gain first-team experience, rather than play solely for Argyle's reserves. "We will be looking to loan some of the younger players out for first-team experience," said Williamson. "I do think opportunities are going to be limited with the size of squad we have got."

1st

Argyle have been linked with Dunfermline's Stevie Crawford. Aberdeen appear to be favourites to sign him but Bobby Williamson is believed to have made inquries about the striker

Bobby Williamson has insisted that Tony Capaldi will have to fight for his Argyle place despite another fine performance for Northern Ireland and Capaldi admitted that securing his future with the Pilgrims was his first priority. He said: "I need to show Bobby Williamson that I can do a job for him and prove that I am worth a place in the Plymouth side". Williamson said: "Tony is a good player and I've liked what I've seen of him so far. I'm delighted that he's doing so well for Northern Ireland but he's right to say that doing well at international level will not guarantee him a place in my side for next season. But then, that also goes for every member of the squad, right now. I'm trying to encourage all the players to do well for Argyle and want them to fight for a place in the side. There will be competition for places, that's for certain - the players have got to prove that they want to play for us. I believe that competition can only benefit the club and the players themselves. Hopefully, we'll bring in four new players in time for next season and everyone will have the opportunity to impress and stake their claim for a first-team place."

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