A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Paul Sturrock was pleased with the improved performance that earned a point at Burnley. He said: "The essence of life is to draw your away games and win your home games - we've now got to sort out our home form. We tried a different system today and it seemed to benefit the players and simplify their game. We have got a lot of players who are trying to find their sea-legs. We tried something that they seemed to have fitted into. We won't be able to play like that every week, system-wise, but now we have got to get this team thinking about scoring goals. We still haven't scored a goal in the last three or four games, but today was a very solid performance. It was very difficult to be forceful, offensively, because we have had to make ourselves stronger as a unit and they have had to be thinking about how they should play in the system and forget about having a shot at goal every now and again. To be fair, we passed the ball a lot better in the first half. I don't think we deserved any more than a point, so I'll take that. We're a team finding our feet at this minute in time. It's going to be a long, hard slog to get ourselves the finished article, and we're not going to be that in one season." Argyle's next game is in two weeks due to the international break for matches, a break which Sturrock intends to use to maximum effect. "We've got two weeks to really bed ourselves in for our next home game," he said. "We've got to put three points on the board at our next home game."
Paul Gallagher marked his Argyle debut with a solid performance just hours after completing his move to Home Park. After the game Paul Sturrock said: "I was looking for that type of player who can adapt to playing through the middle, or off the front, or on the width. When I weighed up all the choices, he came top of the list and I was very pleased with his response, wanting to come. His career has been disjointed and he wants to kick-start it. Now is the time he has got to find his feet. He tired dramatically, but I thought he had a very competent first half-hour: when we get him really fit, he is going to be a good asset." Gallagher almost marked his debut with a goal, when a right-foot shot curled narrowly the wrong side of the post. "I'm disappointed because he is quite a good finisher," said Sturrock. "I would have expected him to hit the target." The transfer-window closes at midnight on Monday, but Sturrock does not expect the club to be too busy. He said: "I do feel now that rushing into these things have cost a lot of clubs dear in the past. I want to slow things down now. There might be one that comes in before deadline, fingers crossed. Once we get into September and October, I might find players that will benefit us. They would have to come on loan first, obviously. It is a fair more sensible option than us chasing our tales, and make mistakes. It's the craziest season I've ever been involved in, finance-wise - this league has gone through the roof as far as wages is concerned, and it's made it very difficult. Money, I'm afraid to say, is speaking dramatically in this league. There's a pecking-order in life and we have punched above our weight for a long time now."
Paul Sturrock thinks Craig Noone could do with some good old-fashioned Scottish cooking to build him up for life in the Championship. Noone made his debut as a second-half substitute in the draw at Burnley and was left a bit breathless by the step up in pace. "It was like Darth Vader out on the wing," said Sturrock. "I think it was a culture-shock to the laddy. He was tiling roofs two weeks ago, getting up at six and seven in the morning, playing for Southport - all of a sudden, he's playing in the Championship. He's worked hard and nervous tension was definitely a feature, but he had a go. A plate of mince and tatties a day wouldn't go amiss on him, by the way. He's a game wee laddy and has got a lot of potential. He's quick as well. We're pleased with him." One of many other individual performances that pleased Sturrock came from Simon Walton, and he said: "He's finding his feet. He's got a great career ahead of him but he's still on a learning curve with his thought-process and where he should position himself in relation to the ball. He's 20 years old. When he was 16-17, he was a wonderkid, first-team material, and was treated as a first-team player. He was off in the afternoons, and didn't work too much at the rest of his game. He's paid the price for that and it's now up to me to fill his head with the nonsense that he needs and get him working on his game. At 20, he's not the finished article by a long chalk but you can see there's something there." One player who did not feature in the squad was Jermaine Easter, and Sturrock added: "Jermaine has had a domestic problem and I don't feel he is mentally in tune at this moment in time. If things happen before the deadline, fine: if they don't, he will be more settled in his mind that nothing can happen until the next window. Jermaine had a good season last season. He's got a value, and nobody has reached that value, as far as I'm concerned."
Argyle drew 0-0 at Burnley. Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Timar, Seip, Barker, Puncheon, Walton, Summerfield, Clark, Gallagher, MacLean. Subs – Fallon, Noone, Paterson (not used – Mackie, Cathcart). Attendance - 10,032
Argyle today signed Paul Gallagher on a season long loan from Blackburn Rovers. Paul Sturrock said: "He is a six-footer, which is important, and gives us a range of attacking options. He has the advantage that he can play in a variety of forward positions. He scored 12 goals and was leading scorer for Stoke when he played for them a couple of seasons ago, and has Premiership experience and has played in Europe for Blackburn. He is still only just 24 and I am very much looking forward to getting down to working with him." Galllagher said: "It is a great move for me. I am looking forward to getting some games under my belt and helping Plymouth climb the table."
Argyle have lost their last six games at Burnley and the challenge is on to end that miserable record. Paul Sturrock said: "It is something where we are going to have to break the hoodoo. It is a different ball game on Saturday because we are playing a team where we are known for our performances. I thought it was just me last year but I have checked the record books, and it is not a happy hunting ground. It was the poorest away performance of the season, or Coventry could have been worse. This is a new team and I am hoping the effects of Burnley last year won't be with them. We wait and see what reaction we get tomorrow. Away from home is difficult enough, especially when you have the kind of record we have got. It is up to us now to turn heads." The test at Burnley will be made even harder by the new acquisitions Owen Coyle has made. Chris Eagles from Manchester United and Scunthorpe United's Martin Paterson have been the big money signings, while Russell Anderson, who played on loan for Argyle last season, recently joined from Sunderland. "They have just signed Anderson," said Sturrock. "They have got some exceptional players. Graham Alexander at right-back is an international player. Steven Caldwell and Anderson have played internationally. They have got Kevin McDonald, who is a very exciting talent from Scotland, although I don't know if he is getting a game or not. They have Eagles, who they paid £1m plus for and Paterson was also £1m plus, although they did get £4m from Kyle Lafferty." Despite the history and tough opposition, Sturrock is hoping for a positive performance, especially after the disappointing defeat to Swansea. "I am looking forward to the game," he said. "It is going to be a challenge because we are coming off a big defeat. Not a big defeat as far as the result, but a big defeat performance-wise. I want a positive reaction. I want to be upbeat. I was a bit morose after the game on Saturday, which was a frustration of mine because I should not let things like that get me down. I have got to remember this team has come from the embers of life."
Chris Barker is not panicking at Argyle's disappointing start to the season and believes a combination of factors can help Argyle to their first win at Turf Moor in more than 30 years. "You need a bit of everything," he said. "You need luck, grit, commitment and you need team-spirit. When I was at QPR last year, we didn't win one for ten games. We only got three points from ten games, so I have been in worse positions. We might just need a lucky win and, hopefully, we will get one on Saturday." Barker admitted the loss to Swansea last weekend was a disappointing performance but feels the work on the training ground can now pay dividends. He said: "It was a very disappointing result and performance on Saturday. We started again on Monday and, looking at the boys, we have trained fantastic. It has been good and it has been bubbly. It is different but every club you go to is different. Every manager has their own thoughts and you have got to take that. The Gaffer here has his own thoughts and we have got to take that in." On a personal level, Barker feels he has beginning to find his fitness after a whirlwind start to his Argyle career. He said: "It is not only pre-season I have missed. I have not played since February. I had a hernia op and then QPR brought a new left-back and I didn't play for the last 20 games. I played the odd reserve game in pre-season and then this move obviously came very quickly. I signed on the Friday night and played on the Saturday. I have played four games in 14 days. I am starting to feel a bit better on the Sunday morning after games. For the first few games, you are aching and it takes a few days to recover but I felt ok after last Saturday." Finding that first win at Burnley is a tough proposition and Barker is well aware of that. He said: "When you look at their team sheet, they have experienced players right the way through. We know what Burnley are like. I have played there a few times and it is always a strong battle, and, if we are not up for it, we will get beat. Hopefully, we can perform like we did against Wolves and we will get something. They are under pressure. They have lost 4-1 and 3-0, so they are under pressure as well. If we can do well in the first 20 minutes and keep their fans quiet, we can come back with something."
Paul Sturrock continues to be frustrated in his pursuit for new players, but is still aiming to add another 'two or three' to his squad before the transfer deadline. He has decided not to pursue any interest in Nicky Law and Denes Rosa, and also revealed there had not been any offers for Jermaine Easter. Sturrock is interested in permanent transfers, as well as loan signings, before the deadline. He said: "I have been in negotiations with all sorts of people. I'm hoping to get together with the chairman and the directors, just to finalise everything we have been discussing." Asked whether there would be any new recruits before the visit to Burnley, Sturrock replied: "No, I don't think there will." And questioned about whether he had the funds to wheel and deal in the transfer market, he said: "There is still money to spend." Sturrock admitted that should Easter still be at Home Park after the transfer window closes, he would have further talks with the striker. He said: "Jermaine will be brought into my office and told, point blank, as far I'm concerned his job now is to perform to the standards I know he can achieve. First and foremost, that will be for the benefit of the football club – which pays him, may I add. It will also benefit him for the long term, either by him getting over his problems here or by doing so well that somebody comes in with an offer that we couldn't refuse. Several clubs have phoned me about Jermaine's availability, but he has made it plain the standard he wants to achieve." Law and Rosa were deemed by Sturrock to be no better than the players already at his disposal. He said: "I thought the two of them were good trialists and probably as good as what we have got. If we are going to do anything now, it has got to be better, but I was pleased with their attitude and workrate. I'm sure they will have no problems getting another football club."
Krisztian Timar could be recalled to Argyle's starting line-up at Burnley tomorrow. Paul Sturrock said: "I feel Timar is ready for a game and there is a chance he could be involved tomorrow." There is also a possibility Craig Noone could be added to the squad, but David McNamee is out after suffering a calf injury in training on Tuesday. Sturrock said: "McNamee has a wee calf problem, which is disappointing. It's nothing to do with the injury he had before. We thought he was going to come back into training yesterday, but he didn't. He's a big doubt for tomorrow." Gary Sawyer played for Argyle reserves against Exeter after a hamstring injury, but is not ready to return to the first team yet. Sturrock said: "We have got to make or break him now. It's either a minor operation or he kicks on. I have got a couple of teams in mind for tomorrow at this minute in time, and that's something I will have to deliberate over."
Jason Puncheon has admitted he has had an 'up and down' start to his career at Argyle. He said: "My form has been up and down. I came on against Wolves and did well and then played at Luton. "I did well against Reading, but we didn't pick up a result so that counted for nothing really. And, obviously, last Saturday was a disappointing result and a disappointing performance from the majority of the team." Puncheon has previous experience of playing at Championship level, having been with Wimbledon in the 2003/04 season. He said: "I think the standard is the same, but what has changed are the fitness levels of the players. They are much different compared to when I was 17. In modern day football you have ProZone and they know how many miles you run in a game, and things like that." Argyle are looking for their first win of the season when they take on Burnley tomorrow and Puncheon said: "The season hasn't started off well. The boys know that, but I'm sure we will go to Burnley and pick up a result. One thing we have worked on this week is worrying about our own mentality, not the opposition." Asked about the mood of the players after the defeat by Swansea, Puncheon said: "It was down first thing on Monday morning, but as soon as we got out on the training pitch it picked back up again once we realised we had another game to come. We have been looking at different ways to play and we will be taking that into Saturday. It's important to pick up three points, or even a point, from Burnley because there is a two-week international break afterwards." Off the pitch, Puncheon is enjoying his new life in Plymouth and he has already bought his own property. He said: "The move has been good for me. When you are down here you can concentrate on your football and that's good for any young lad."
Paul Sturrock would love to give some of his younger players the experience of going out on loan but is battling against the age-old problem, geography. "I have had no phone calls for any of my players as yet," he said. "I have sent out faxes to certain areas of the football league to give them the opportunity. I have had phone calls but nothing has come back so far. I have told two or three of my players that I would like to send them out on loan and I have sent out a whole brochure on them, but I have heard nothing yet. The problem is nobody comes to Plymouth to watch my players. You don't get scouts racing down the road to watch a reserve game at Plymouth. Most of them don't even know the names of my players."
Argyle have lost out in their bid to sign striker Tomas Pekhart on loan from Tottenham Hotspur. The Czech international has instead moved to Southampton until January
Argyle reserves beat Exeter City reserves 3-0 yesterday, the goals scored by Jermaine Easter, Yala Bolasie and Craig Noone. Argyle: Larrieu, White, Timar, Cathcart, Paterson, Folly, Bolasie, Rosa, Law, Noone, Easter. Subs – Sawyer, Smith, McCrory (not used – Saxton, Barnes). Paul Sturrock said: "It was a good, competitive game played with an edge and I was very pleased with the whole approach. I am very pleased with Noone. He showed a wee devil in him; definitely Scottish blood in him. You can see the boy can play. It is the strength feature he is going to have to work on. Krisztian Timar showed that zest and sharpness coming back, and I was pleased with him. I tried Craig Cathcart in another position and Yoann Folly came to the show as well for the spell he was on. It was a good game and nobody let themselves down in any form, and that what I was looking for today. There were performances to put question marks in my mind for Saturday."
Trialists Nicky Law and Denes Rosa should find out today whether they will be offered contracts by Argyle. Paul Sturrock, who was holding talks with the two players this morning, was pleased with both of them following last nights reserve game. He said: "I thought they both did okay. They tired dramatically, but I think that's with a lack of competitive games early in the season. Rosa looks an accomplished player. He made passes for the first two goals. You can see he can play, but I have got to judge whether a real hardened training regime would get him up to speed. I think ability-wise there's no question about him. They worked very hard for the team and did what they were asked to do, which I like. I will think about it overnight, meet the two of them tomorrow and make a decision. It will be a 'yes' or 'no'. There is no time now to mess around." Sturrock is busy trying to add further players to his squad before the transfer window shuts, and added: "The chairman and I spent two-and-a-half hours on the phone on Monday afternoon to all sorts of people. It's ongoing, and I'm sure there will be other fresh things come out the trees later in the week."
Argyle will be fielding two trialists in today's reserve game with Exeter City at Home Park, midfielders Denes Rosa and Nicky Law. Rosa has been linked with the club in the past, having a trial with Bobby Williamson back in 2005. There was also speculation surrounding a move for the midfielder last January but nothing concrete emerged. Law is the son of the former Argyle player, also called Nicky and is currently with Sheffield United
Simon Walton knows that Argyle supporters have not yet seen him at his best – and he wants to put that right as soon as possible. He said: "I said, when I signed, not to expect miracles straight away. I've not played regular football for nearly a year now, which makes it extra hard, and coming into a new club literally hours before the start of the season made things tough as well. It's going to take a while but, and I'm sure the other new lads are saying the same, the more games we play, the better we'll get. I'd like to think I'm slowly starting to find my feet. For me to expect myself to be up to full speed when I've not played regular football for so long is a bit over-ambitious, but the club have put a lot of faith in me and it's up to me to pay it back. But it isn't going to be an overnight thing." Walton had a good view of the decision by Andy D'Urso to disallow a Marcel Seip goal against Swansea. Walton said: "I did ask the ref and he said the 'keeper was about to catch the ball, and somebody obstructed him. That was his view. If that goal had been given, it would have been a different game, but it's all ifs and buts. I don't think we deserved it. It would have been harsh on Swansea. We weren't good enough, full stop." Walton felt that Argyle did have a couple of brief good spells in the game, and added: "We started both halves quite brightly, and we got a few passes together at the start of the first half. God knows what happened after that." Walton's frustration at the way the game unfolded was plain to see at times. He said: "Personally, I think I let myself down a little bit. I got a bit too frustrated, and I've apologised for that, but, on the other hand, sometimes you do need to show a bit of grit to get back into the game. Obviously, we don't train to play like that. The 11 players on the pitch were told how to play, and we just didn't do it on the day. In the first half, I got a little bit more of the ball than I have done in previous games, but it is frustrating as a midfielder when the ball is forever coming backwards and forwards over your head. At the end of the day, that's our job to go and pick up the knock-downs, but at the same time we want to get the ball and pass it. I do, and I'm sure the other midfielders do as well. It does get frustrating at times, like I said, but it isn't anyone's fault in particular. It's a collective thing. We need to pass the ball better, and be a bit braver."
Jermaine Easter is set to leave Home Park. The striker is enduring some domestic problems and feels a move away from Plymouth could help to resolve the situation. Paul Sturrock said: "We have circulated out to football clubs for Easter. He has got some domestic problems, which he feels he can't clear up, playing in Plymouth. We are circulating to clubs to see if we have any takers. I am disappointed, but the quicker it is sorted out, the better. It is time-sensitive but Jermaine has to understand that he has a value, and, like anybody else, that value has to be met. It has been bubbling for quite a long time but I have come to understand it over the last ten days after Jermaine came to see me. It had been happening since the end of last season and he has decided a move from Plymouth would benefit his domestic problems." A move away from Argyle would obviously free up some money in the transfer budget for replacements but, should Easter not secure a transfer, he will remain part of the team. Sturrock added: "He is a big boy and he will have to get on with it if he stays. If we can move him on, we move him on, and that may clear some money to maybe bring in two strikers. We need good Championship players."
Paul Sturrock has apologized to the Argyle fans after the defeat to Swansea City. He said: "I came to this game today with a spring in my step after the way the team had trained and what we were looking to achieve. I am flummoxed, to say the least, bitterly disappointed, and I can only apologise to the fans. That could be, offensively, the poorest performance I have seen from any time I have been at Argyle in the past. We were disjointed. There was a fear, a worry, and a lack of belief when we had the ball, which is a recipe for disaster. We want our players to play accurate balls to our strikers. It is fine in practice but getting the players to do that on the pitch is the more difficult aspect." Sturrock suffered a torrid time in his first spell at Home Park and turned things around and is now looking to repeat the trick. He said: "If you look, and everybody should look, at the Wolves performance to the performance today: it is in us. If we believe in ourselves, the kind of performance against Wolves is in the team. I came here the last time and turned the team around in the second year after four defeats on the bounce, and we finished up going on a run. The Championship is miles ahead of what we were in before, so it is going to be very difficult." A key factor in achieving that aim will be finding a settled first 11. "At this minute, I am struggling to put out my best 11," Sturrock added. "I am also struggling to bed down in my mind a certain style of play. That is only normal when you have players you have seen very little. Managers will try to mould players to the way they want the game to be played. Sometimes managers will change styles to adapt to the players you are trying to bring into the football club, and that is a decision I have got to make." The game could have been very different had Marcel Seip's 'equaliser' not been ruled out. Sturrock said: "I don't want to talk about the disallowed goal. I have got too many other things to think about. I am very hopeful we will get the benefit in other games. We were beaten by a team that wanted to pass the ball and a better team on the day. I don't think they are a better side than us but they were able to get the ball down and make passes. We were not pressurized by them to the extent that we had to play one-touch passes in certain areas. There was a lack of belief in our psyche. Individually, we are making mistakes. I remember Graeme Souness telling me 'Turn their back four'. I believe in that philosophy in the first ten minutes of the game. After that, I want to play from goal to goal. I want my players to play accurate balls to the strikers. I am not legislating for one big wallop down that day. If I had Carlos Alberto on the right and another Brazilian on the left, I might distribute balls to my full-backs. I watch Premier League games where some teams kick first and play second - they pick up the crumbs. A high percentage of teams will kick it out every week, but our problem is that I have got to be settled in my mind, and put an 11 on the pitch who are going to reflect my gospel. I know how to win football games but I have one or two players in the dressing room with a certain idea of how the game should be played. It is like giving whiskey to the Indians - they have a problem with the football." The quest for finding new players now takes on even greater importance, with just nine days before the transfer window closes. "I would like to work very hard and see if we can bring in some experienced players," said Sturrock. "We need course and distance men for the simple reason we have too many novices. If you look at my team, near enough every one has had a lack of Championship hours, for all sorts of reasons. Very few of them have had regular Championship performances and I need a couple of men in there."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Swansea City at Home Park. Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Doumbe, Seip, Barker, Puncheon, Walton, Summerfield, Clark, Fallon, MacLean. Subs – McNamee, Mackie, Easter (not used –Timar, Paterson). Attendance - 9,203
Paul Sturrock hopes that hard work on the training ground will lead to three points for Argyle against Swansea City today. He said: "I'm excited in a way because, obviously, the training ground is where any manager wants to be. Since the start of the week, we have had good man-hours on what we are looking for." Sturrock did allow the squad to have Wednesday off as usual, however. He added: "At the end of the day, we have got to curb our exuberance with the thought we have got to leave it in their legs." Swansea were League One champions last season and Sturrock said: "Swansea pass the ball to death, and if you don't handle that they will run over the top of you. They have got good players and I expect them to be in this league at the end of the season. We have got to approach it like the Wolves game and be in their faces. If we can do that, I'm sure we will get the result we need."
Damien McCrory played for Republic of Ireland under-19s in their 2-0 defeat by Spain on Thursday
Paul Sturrock knows more about being in charge of Argyle than anyone else, but even he admitted that this summer has been unusually frustrating. He said: "When you sign for Plymouth Argyle, it is lock, stock and barrel. It is very difficult when you have extra problems that other football clubs don't have. If we were in Sheffield, for example, we would have settled team and blah, blah, blah. When we sign a player, they have to move to Plymouth, and that has been our main obstacle. You can't cajole them into moving here without upheaval. Once they get here, they dismiss it in their mind. Once I have got them, I have got a wee chance. I have chased my tail all through close-season and we have had so many people renege on us. The first ten names I would have liked to bring to this football club all turned us down. You are chasing yourself all the time and you have to make sure you don't panic and take people just for the sake of it." Three points against Swansea is top of Sturrock’s priorities at the moment. He said: "My head is down, blinkers are on and the whole essence of life is to try and muster the troops into remembering their jobs. We are having double-sessions on the training ground and I am over-emphasising all the things I have preached in the past to try and get them quicker in their minds. Simon Walton has come here with a general fitness problem and Chris Barker as well. Jason Puncheon has come with an idea of how to play the game, which is completely different to what I am looking for. There are obviously other players trying to find their feet as well. I am excited in a way because the training ground is where any manager wants to be and it has been full tilt since the start of the week. We also have to curb our exuberance with the thought that we need to leave something in their legs."
Rory Fallon is hoping the fans can roar Argyle on to victory when they take on Swansea City tomorrow. He said: "It has been a tough start. We have had two of the contenders to go up. The fans were brilliant for the first game of the season and we need that kind of atmosphere against Swansea. I think when the fans are like that, it just raises our game a lot more. We went to Reading last Saturday and had a tough day, but I don't think many teams will get points there this season. The problem with us is that the team is changing a lot, whereas Reading have pretty much kept the same side from when they were in the Premier League. I think people need to realise what's going off behind the scenes sometimes as well. We have got to start getting a team which is the same week, in week out. It just makes things easier. We need to win tomorrow. That's all we are thinking about and all that's on our minds really." Fallon made 48 appearances for Swansea before being sold to Argyle, and he added: "I still know a few of the boys at Swansea and I still keep in touch with some of them. It will be good to see them again. Swansea are too big a club to have stayed in League One, and with Robbie being the gaffer they are only going one way, really. I played with him when I got there, and he's a good guy. He was a good player and a good captain. He knows the game and everyone used to say he should go into management. I think he knew he wanted to go into it."
Paul Sturrock hopes to add two new players to his squad before Argyle play Swansea City tomorrow. When asked about the possibility of new arrivals before the game he said: "We would like to, but we are in the lap of the gods with some of the other football clubs. We need to have competition for certain areas of the team." Player departures are also on the cards, with Sturrock admitting that was 'ongoing'. But, as yet, he has not had inquiries about any of his players. "We are in season and certain positions are not needed at this minute in time, but it takes one injury and then, all of a sudden, the phone call comes," said Sturrock. "I would imagine things will get a wee bit more excitable with three or four days to go before the transfer window closes."
Paul Sturrock has confirmed Argyle have not entered talks with Marcel Seip about extending his contract at the club. Seip's deal ends next summer, but Sturrock has hinted there could be some discussions soon. He said: "To be fair, I'm not even thinking further ahead than the next training session. My blinkers are on and my the whole essence of life is to try to muster the troops into knowing their jobs and remembering their jobs. We haven't had any conversations yet, but when the window closes it might just be time then. At this juncture, people coming in is more important."
Yoann Folly made his debut for Togo in their 2-1 defeat to the Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday
Krisztian Timar won his second cap for Hungary in their 3-3 draw against Montenegro last night. Timar came on as a substitute in the 61st minute. Meanwhile Jermaine Easter was an unused substitute for Wales against Georgia and Craig Cathcart played the first half of Northern Ireland under-21’s defeat to Poland
Paul Sturrock wants to increase the level of competition within his squad by making further new signings before the closure of the transfer window at on September 1st. He also knows that he needs to trim his squad by moving on one or two players who may no longer feature in his plans, such as Yoann Folly. "I know which areas of the squad we need to strengthen if we're to push this team on," he said. "Like any football club, we have a certain budget, but at times it's easier to bring in than it is to put out. We might have to make ourselves top heavy for a wee while, but we know in the real world that we're going to have move certain players on as well. If it goes past the end of the month, it will be on loan first and the next transfer window will give us the opportunity to move some of them on." Reports suggest that Argyle have taken an interest in Sandro Burki, a midfielder who plays for Swiss club Aarau and is in the Swiss national squad and that they have enquired about the possibility of Sheffield United’s Jon Stead being made available on loan. There is also rumoured interest in Tottenham Hotspur's Czech Under-21 international forward Tomas Pekhart and Southampton striker Bradley Wright-Phillips
Craig Noone put in a promising first performance for Argyle in the reserves defeat at Swindon Town on Tuesday. Paul Sturrock said: "People will look at the result of that game but I was very pleased with the reports I received. We had a young side but Swindon played a very strong team. I think we were 2-1 up for a spell and there were excellent performances from some of the younger players. Craig Noone did very well, until he died a death. A sniper shot him from the stand in about the 55th minute! I have been very pleased with his training as well, but he needs a good feed. He needs some mince and tatties in him before he's going to be up to speed. He could play a bit part in the first team now as an impact player, but at this minute I have got too many impact players. I think it's now time for me to bring in two starters."
Paul Sturrock wants Argyle fans who are unhappy with results this season to aim their abuse at him, and not at his players. "We're in for a hard season," he said. "There are no ifs, buts and maybes about it. This season is going to be a very difficult one, because we're on the run trying to gel a whole squad together. I very much hope that the fans are realists, and they can understand what we're trying to achieve. In the end, they will dictate whether this team has confidence or no confidence. If they don't get behind this side, then it will be a really hard season. Hopefully, the players will respond properly, and will get better and better. I'm asking the fans to be patient. If they get exasperated, just give me dog's abuse. I'm old and wise enough to take it. Leave the team alone. If the fans turn on the players, and they don't want the ball, it gets very, very hard." Sturrock was in no mood to make false promises to supporters. "The challenge is there for everybody to see," he said. "I like being honest. I think the fans merit that. I'm not going to con anybody. We're going to blow hot, cold and indifferent. We're going to be up, down and sideways but, as a football club, we'll get stronger. Our aim is to get better as the season unfolds. I saw signs on Saturday that bits and pieces are coming together. We all came home full of doom and gloom, but I've studied the tape of the game and, although there are an awful lot of things we want to get better at, we're going in the right direction. I've only had a week to work with some of these players, and for it's very hard to try and get a team to gel together in that time, but I'm still very excited by the challenge. It's a very difficult scenario, but it's the kind of challenge I like to get my teeth into. It's like a breath of fresh air to me." Sturrock has not had the benefit of starting the season with a settled squad, and he added: "Last summer, I don't think there was one player brought to the club by the previous manager. This year, though, the solidity of this football club has dissolved. There's been a huge influx, and a huge squad of players departing. There's a huge amount of work to be done. It's been very difficult but, after Saturday's game, I'm more up for it than I ever was."
Argyle’s reserves lost 5-2 at Swindon last night, the goals scored by Joe Mason and Dan Smith. Argyle: Saxton, White, Moseley, Gerring, Brett, Bolasie, Kinsella, McCaul, Noone, Smith, Mason
Damien McCrory played for the Republic of Ireland under-19’s against both Portugal and Ukraine in this weeks mini-tournament
Ashley Barnes made his debut as a substitute for Austria’s under-20’s in their 1-0 defeat against Switzerland yesterday
Paul Sturrock has challenged the players who have yet to appear for Argyle in the Championship this season to prove they should be in his starting line-up. "I have had a lot of players knock on my door over the last 48 hours," he said. "It's up to them to make sure their standard of training, their performances in the reserves, or their bit parts in the first team force me into playing them. That's the competition we have got to have and I call on all of them who are not in the team to get in the team. If they are doing that, they are going to put an edge on the other ones and force them on to bigger and better things – or they will get themselves in the first team. That will show them the standards we want to achieve. I would have been very disappointed if three or four players hadn't knocked on my door because it would have shown a lack of ambition. They have had their say, and I would rather have that than the other way – them not caring. They have shown they want to do well here."
Paul Sturrock plans to send Damien McCrory and Dan Smith out on loan so they can get some first team experience. He said: "I have had a word with McCrory and Smith and I feel three months on loan would benefit them. It's finding somebody to take them at this juncture of the season, but injuries will determine that sooner or later. I will be contacting a lot of clubs in League Two and the Conference with that in mind." Sturrock also has plans to loan out Yala Bolasie and Craig Noone in the near future. He said: "I'm going to have a look at them in the reserve games and in training and give them their opportunity first. If we can get McCrory and Smith out on loan quickly, when they come back we might do the same with the other two."
Argyle have failed in an attempt to lure Russell Anderson back to Home Park on a long-term loan. Anderson is out of favour at Sunderland and reported to be available for £1 million. That price is beyond Argyle, but Paul Sturrock wanted to take him on a season-long loan. However, Anderson’s family are settled in Sunderland and he did not want to be away from them for an extended period
Krisztian Timar is hoping to use this week's Hungary international for Argyle's benefit. He said: "I'm very happy to be back in the squad, because it is the new coach who has picked me. Hopefully I will play, and it will also be good for my fitness and to help me get back in form. I want to play soon for Plymouth, so I'm looking forward to this week. It will be good for me." Timar knows what he needs to do to regain his status as an Argyle regular. He added: "I need a bit more fitness and a bit more form, but soon I will be ready. Everyone needs to be patient with me, because it was a really serious injury, but I don't feel the injury now, which is really good. I just need more match-fitness and confidence." Having players away from the training ground on international duty is a ‘hindrance’ according to Paul Sturrock, but he too hopes that Timar will put this week to good use. He said: "We'll see how Krisztian is when he comes back. We'll see how he has trained, and everything else. After Saturday, he comes into consideration, but international weeks are normally a soft touch. I've pre-warned him that he'll have to do a lot more work than he normally does when he's away with his international team. I'm very pleased with his response to not being in the team, and we have to remember that he has come back from his injury two months earlier than any specialist has told him to. Maybe my expectation levels of the standards he should be achieving have been a bit harsh. The Timar we had last season is still in there, but the laddie needs time."
Paul Sturrock is using Reading as role models for his overhaul of Argyle. He admitted that, in the long term, he hoped Argyle could replicate the playing style and success of Reading, although he warned it would take some time. He said: "They have got pace down both sides, they have got guile and they play the game very directly, which I like. They put your defenders under pressure in and around your penalty area. And they take everything very quickly, which causes you concern on the counter attack. They have got a very good centre-back pairing, with a very competent goalie behind them, and Harper sitting in front of them. They have got an edge to them and they are definitely a team that has been well coached and know exactly what they should get up to in every situation on the football pitch. I would love to be able to do that to Plymouth Argyle, but it will take a bit more time." Two of the players Sturrock could build his side around are Jamie Mackie and Jason Puncheon. Puncheon was Argyle's main goal threat at Reading and Strurrock added: "I would have liked us to hit the target a bit more. Puncheon had three or four which whizzed past the post. It's just getting these younger players more thoughtful of what we do when we have the ball and, more importantly, what we do when the other team has the ball, especially when we are away from home. We are asking Mackie to be a front-line striker when he has come from the Conference, and we are asking Puncheon to be a winger-type player, like Convey is for Reading, when he has come from League Two. Yes, I think they are going to do it. But it's asking a lot for it to be in the second game of the season. Waifs and strays have come together, for all sorts of reasons, and it's just getting them to have in their mind what is best for the football team, and then putting it into practice."
Karl Duguid remained upbeat despite Argyle's defeat at Reading on Saturday. He said: "We know Reading are going to be there or thereabouts this season. They are a very strong side and have got a lot of pace. "I think the front four will be the quickest we play against in the division. But we have had a chat and we have taken a lot of positives out of the game. We have conceded two goals from two set pieces, that's the only disappointing thing. We are still learning. It's a new team and we will keep working on the training ground. We know we have got some very good players at this football club, and it's going to come. We know that. We have all got to stick together – the players and the fans. There is no negativity at all. It's all positive, and that's how we have got to stay. We came out and conceded an early goal in the second half, but we got back at them. Punch had a few chances and we got a lot of crosses in their box. Reading let you play, and we had some good patches of play, there is no doubt about that. But they are very quick and they get the ball out wide early. Fair play to them, that's what they are good at, but we didn't concede any goals from them doing that. We conceded goals from set pieces, and we know we can work on that, picking up players and things like that. We would be a lot more disappointed if they had carved us open, and I don't think they did that once at all today. I thought the team shape was good, and that's half the battle. If we keep that shape and keep working hard, the results are going to come." Duguid believes Wolves and Reading will both be promotion contenders this season. He said: "We have probably played two of the best teams in the division, but it's nice to see what the top of the division is all about. We have got a big game next Saturday and we are going to prepare as professionally as we can." Duguid admitted he was enjoying the responsibility of being Argyle captain, but Paul Sturrock has not made it clear whether it is a long-term appointment. "He hasn't said anything, but that's not a problem," said Duguid. "No matter whether I'm skipper or not, I will give 100 per cent, but it is a great honour to be captain of the football club."
Paul Sturrock was far from downcast after yesterdays defeat at Reading. "I'm relatively pleased, if you can be pleased when you lose," he said. "On Tuesday, the attitude and work-rate were not there to the standards I know we can achieve: I could not blame my players for their attitude today. It's never okay when you lose football games but there's things that you can take out of a defeat and I've taken a lot of pluses - which will surprise a lot of people. Fans are fans. They have seen a defeat so, as far as they are concerned, it is a bad performance. I understand that. It's human nature. There were things I saw which gave me food for thought and gave me hope: attitude and work-rate from the players, and other bits and pieces that are starting to gel; people are starting to understand each other and get a rapport with each other. I am trying to find my best 11, which is difficult when you have transitional things going on. When I find that 11, it is vitally important that I get the shape and organisation, and all the mental things I want to bring to the football club. If we can just get two or three players, and get on that training-ground, morning and afternoon and make sure that everybody knows their job, then we will start to see a very hard team to beat with a modicum of ability. We lost a lot of players and we are trying to gel a team and working so hard to get it together during games. I was pleased that we didn't cave in, we showed a bit of character and tried to do the right things. We are a wee bit naive. It is going to take time to come together. Saying that, there were some nice parts. We weren't out of it completely. I thought Puncheon showed he can play at this standard; Duguid has done very well at right-back; I think Barker will be a good addition when he is up to speed - his fitness levels, and Walton's fitness levels are poor; and Clark is beginning to nestle himself into the team with some competent performances. As I said to my team, we've got a lot of hard work to be done: the fitness levels of some of the players who have come from other clubs are not right, not to the standards we want; and there's a naivety of some of the players who have come from lower leagues. There's people who are forgetting each other's names, and, all of a sudden, they have got to gel together very, very quickly. It's a very difficult thing to do - work as hard as we are on certain things and get results at the same time." For an example of the standards he is trying to achieve, Sturrock looked to Argyle’s opponents so far this season, Wolves and Reading. "We've had a very hard start to the season under very difficult circumstances," he said: "We've played two games against teams which will finish in the top five, and, if they add key players to their side, they will be top two. Reading are a good side. They have played a long time together, and they know exactly how to play the game. It is something we would like to emulate. We have got a long path before we can achieve that. It's not going to happen overnight. I knew that. It takes time. We are a new Plymouth Argyle, a new team." Both goals came from Reading set-pieces, with Sonko coming out on top of marker Rory Fallon both times. "He's absolutely gutted," said Sturrock. "It's all a learning-curve. He'll learn from it. We don't like losing set-pieces. It kills you. It's something we're going to have to work on. He can only get better with training-ground work." It is on the training-ground where Sturrock feels the direction of the season will be decided, and his outlook is positive. He said: "I promise one thing to the fans: we will work our tails off to get this team to understand the elements of what we are trying top achieve. If they all come together, with the addition of one or two, I am very confident we will have a good season. The longer the season goes on, the better we will be."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Reading. Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Doumbe, Seip, Barker, Puncheon, Walton, Summerfield, Clark, Fallon, Mackie. Subs – Timar, MacLean, McNamee (not used – Easter, Paterson). Attendance - 19,202
Graham Stack hopes to put one over his former club when Argyle take on Reading today. "We are in for a very tough test today," he said. "They will be organised, and it's a very hard place to go, although I do remember Plymouth beating us there on the opening day of one season. Their punters will be right behind them today. There are high expectations there for them to bounce straight back into the Premier League." Despite leaving Reading in May, he holds no hard feelings against them. The opposite, in fact. When he signed for Reading from Arsenal in July 2005 he was facing trial on one count of rape and another of sexual assault. Stack was subsequently found not guilty of both charges, but was grateful to Reading for showing such support to him at that time. "Reading made an offer and it was initially a six-month loan deal because I had an ongoing court case," he said. "It activated a three-year contract at the January transfer window. So it was a loan with a permanent deal in place. I'm looking forward to going back to Reading because I have still got friends at the club. The club were fantastic to me. They took me at a time in my career where I was in a position where a lot of clubs probably wouldn't have made the offer they did. I owe the club a hell of a lot, and I would like to think I did pay them back in some way while I was there. I have got a lot of good memories from my time there. We won the league and went on a couple of decent cup runs. I was there for the start of our first season in the Premier League, but then I had an opportunity to go out and play some games on loan at Leeds. I felt it was probably in my best interests to do that. Although I signed a three-year contract with Reading, I was probably only there for a year-and-a-half, with me moving out and playing games on loan." Today’s challenge could not be greater for Argyle and Stack will need to continue with the excellent performances he managed against Wolves and Luton. He said: "We were very lacklustre on Tuesday night. Too many players didn't turn up as far as we were concerned and you know what to expect at a place like Luton. We have to set our stall out against Reading in exactly the way we started against Wolves last Saturday - high tempo, in your face, not giving people time on the ball, being direct but, at the same time, keeping possession when we have got it. We are not the sort of side to play passing football but I would like to think we can impose ourselves when we go there. They will have threats all over the park. They have got pace out wide and danger up front. From my point of view, making saves is great but we have to look at source and see where these chances are coming from. I have been fairly busy in the last two games with plenty of saves to make. That is what I am there for and I am happy doing it, but I would be delighted if I went through a game at Reading with nothing to do. We are looking to cut down on the chances we are giving to the opposition."
Krisztian Timar has been called up by Hungary for the international friendly with Montenegro on August 20th
Gary Sawyer's hamstring problem looks like being resolved on the operating table. Paul Sturrock said: "Gary Sawyer is having real problems. He has gone away to see another specialist and a decision will be made as to whether we operate or not. There is something not right in his hamstring. There is a lump and they are still swaying as to whether they should have a look in or not. It would be a small op at the beginning to have a look but I would imagine, if they see something, they will sort it then." Sawyer will definitely miss the trip to Reading but David McNamee is back in contention having recovered from a mild hamstring strain. Sturrock said: "McNamee trained yesterday and we will see what reaction he gets, so he has hopefully come back into the plans." The only other injury concerns are Simon Walton and Romain Larrieu, who is still struggling with a calf problem. Sturrock added: "Simon Walton picked up a wee tightness in his buttock, so he is a bit tender. He trained yesterday and we will see what he is like. Romain is able to play in goal and, at a real push, he can kick. At the moment he is throwing it in training. We are just trying to get right to the bottom of it."
Argyle take on Reading tomorrow with Paul Sturrock demanding a much-improved display from his side. He said: "If we want to go out and play like we did in the first half at Luton, I'm not going to come out and watch the game. If we give Reading chances like we did to Luton, I can assure you they are the type of team who will plunder you." A competitive practice match in training yesterday has given Sturrock encouragement that Argyle will be up for the test. He said: "There were so many fouls in the game in training yesterday that if I had stopped play every time we would never have finished it. They would have been taking free-kicks all day. The annoying thing for me is people are starting to appreciate they have got to stick their foot in now, rather than later. It's terrible to say it, but maybe the defeat at Luton will be a benefit. It might have given people the realism they need. We have to be honest, hard-working, aggressive and play the game in the right areas of the pitch." Sturrock did take some positives from Argyle's performance after half-time at Luton, and added: "The second half was, it's strange to say, encouraging. All of a sudden, we put crosses in the box, and we had a host of corners and goal attempts. We played the three gears up, easily, in tempo. We have got to learn from the first half, but we should also take something out of the second half to benefit us." Sturrock held a meeting with his squad before the first of their two training sessions yesterday. He said: "I just wanted to know their feelings of how they think the game should be played. You have got to remember we have got a whole host of new players who have come from all sorts of backgrounds. They have been used to different styles of play and different thoughts of their managers. All of a sudden, they have got to sing off the Luggy hymn sheet, and I think there are one or two who have basically not handled that so far. There are one or two who are trying not to sing off the Luggy hymn sheet. They will hand them back and move on." Sturrock had threatened there would be changes to his squad after the defeat by Luton, and he seems determined to carry that out. When asked about player departures before the transfer window closes, Sturrock replied: "That does not happen overnight. "Certain things have to be put into place, and I have to have conversations with certain players."
Argyle’s home Football Combination game against Exeter City, originally scheduled for January 13th, will now be played on August 26th, at 2pm
Craig Cathcart has been called up by Northern Ireland for their UEFA Under-21 Championship qualifier against Germany on September 5th. Cathcart will also line up for Northern Ireland when they play Poland in Ukraine next Tuesday as part of a Under-21 friendly tournament
Craig Cathcart believes his six-month loan spell with Argyle will enhance his football education. Cathcart, who made his debut at Luton Town on Tuesday, said: "The first half wasn't the best. The second half was encouraging, but we made one mistake and they punished us. It always helps playing in a game because you get your match sharpness. It was my first competitive game this season so I'm sure it can only push me forward. I came down last Friday and had my first training session on Sunday. As defenders, you need to know each other well, so it was difficult but, in a week or so, I'm sure we'll know each other well." Cathcart played 13 times on loan for Royal Antwerp last season and has already noticed a lot of differences in the Championship. He said: "The ball is in the air a lot more in the Championship. In Belgium it was just all football really. This move can only help me and help my development. Hopefully, I can get some more games under my belt. I've come here to learn League football. I'm not really used to it. I've been used to reserve games, where there's no real pressure. It may be a while, after Tuesday, before I get in the team, but I'll just do my best in training and we'll see what happens."
Craig Noone, Argyle’s latest signing, is having a second crack at a career in the Football League, having failed to make the grade at Wrexham as a teenager. Asked why he did not make the step-up from the apprentice ranks to at Wrexham, he said: "They just told me I wasn't good enough, and that I was too lightweight." Noone learned his trade as a footballer in the non-League game in the north west, after leaving Wrexham. He said: "I was with Skelmersdale United and then Burscough, before I joined Southport. This is the biggest move I could have asked for, really. I knew clubs from League One and League Two were taking an interest, but when I heard a Championship club was interested... I couldn't sleep last night, after signing. It's just amazing." The move and the opportunity to make the game his full-time career will change Noone's daily routine. The former roofer said: "This time last week I had my hard-hat on. I was used to getting up at six every morning to go to work. On Tuesdays, I used to come home and have my tea and then go off and play in a game. I'd get home at 11 o'clock, and then have to get up at six again on Wednesday morning and go out to work again. Now I just want to settle in and get used to full-time football, and training every day." He also wants to follow in the footsteps of other players who have moved from non-League to the Championship. "It has been done before," he added. "Michael Kightly went straight from Grays to Wolves. You only have to look at he's done. I've always wanted to be a professional footballer. It has just taken time."
Argyle today signed left-winger Craig Noone from Conference North side Southport for an undisclosed fee which could eventually rise to in excess of £100,000. Paul Sturrock said: "I am very excited by this signing. Craig comes to us with a glowing reputation. It is now up to him to prove to me that is merited. He has an opportunity to impress me and force his way into my thinking. Whether he takes that is up to him. I see him as one for the future, but if he shows me he can make the step up to the Championship, the door is open for him." Noone was tiling roofs only last week and he said: "It's the move of a lifetime. It's just sinking in now that I'm going to be full time. It'll definitely make a difference, training every day. It'll certainly make a change from working and having to play a game on a Tuesday evening after being at work since 6am." Noone has only been at Southport for a few weeks and has been the subject of interest from a host of clubs, with Argyle winning the race to sign him after a ringing endorsement from chief scout Andy King. "I knew Plymouth had been to a few of my games," added Noone. "It was a shock to me but I was delighted and excited. They were there four times, so I knew I just had to be myself. I got on with my game and never really thought about it."
Paul Sturrock was far from happy following last nights defeat at Luton. "There are certain players who are not playing to the standards that I want them to achieve," he said. "They will pay for it by selection, but some of them will pay by having to be moved on because I have to make spaces for the one or two other players I know that this football club needs. That's going to be ongoing from now for the next two weeks - to see if we can do something to lessen the player numbers we have, at the same time as bringing in the two or three we need to push us on in the Championship. People will see, by my actions, who and when." Sturrock made six changes from the starting line-up that had drawn against Wolves, and was incensed by the reaction he got. "To come here, after a very promising 90 minutes on Saturday, to the standards we achieved in the first half is unacceptable," he said. "Our players should be honest and hard-working. That is the type of players we have. They have got to try to perform to the standards I know they can achieve - every week. They have got to churn and churn and churn. I know I've got 11 that will give me that honesty, maybe 13 - it's getting through to maybe three or four others that they have got to give the same every week. After that, the ones that fall by the wayside will be the ones that move on." Sturrock was unrepentant about his team selection, and added: "I could put my hands up tonight and say I should have kept the same team, but I've got to think what's best for Plymouth Argyle over the long-term and get a view of certain players. I will look at myself in the mirror when I go home tonight - I'm wondering how many of my players will. There's a few sad faces in but that's not enough. They've got to have pride in themselves. I pick the team, do the tactics, ask for honesty, ask for attitude and ask for work-rate: I don't get it from some of them tonight. It's basically down to the mental approach. The start of the game was lack of honesty, lack of tempo, lack of attitude - a team that thought they'd seen it, done it, got the T-shirt, that could just turn up and all things were going to happen for them. We're not that type of team. When we don't play with our hearts on our sleeves, we get exactly what happened to us tonight." The introduction of Rory Fallon and Luke Summerfield at half-time gave the team a different dimension and, after what appeared to be perfectly good goal from Steve MacLean was ruled out, Luton made the game safe with a late second. "That's the most annoying thing, for me," said Sturrock. "We didn't put the icing on the cake with a goal, but the second half was 100 miles better than the first half. We got ourselves in the right areas, we did all the right things. The substitutions definitely benefited us, they gave us a different threat. There was an honesty to us and a hard-working, higher tempo to us in the second half. I've said all along that, if you don't clear your lines at one end and don't hold it up at the other end, it's a recipe for disaster - the first half was exactly that: we didn't clear our lines properly and we didn't hold the ball up. Whether we are good, bad or indifferent, a fan, when he pays his money, merits that his team gives attitude and work-rate - that's all they can ask for. When they don't get - and some of these fans will go away disgusted tonight, and I'm disgusted with some of the players, and they will pay the penalty for it."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Luton Town in the Carling Cup. Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Timar, Cathcart, Barker, Puncheon, Walton, Folly, Paterson, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Summerfield, Fallon, Mackie (not used – Larrieu, Clark, Smith, Doumbe). Attendance - 2,682
Paul Sturrock has endured a miserable time in the League Cup over the years and is determined to change that tonight. "The League Cup has not been a priority in the past because I keep losing games," he said. "It seems to be something I just can't get past the first round in. It would be very nice to break the hoodoo tonight. An easy win is exactly what I am hoping Argyle players and supporters don't think. If you look at Luton’s team on paper and the breakdown of their game against Port Vale, it was never 3-1 in the game. I would write them off at our peril. They absolutely battered Port Vale apparently and lost to three breakaway goals. They have got some quality players. Kevin Nicholls has played in the Championship. Sam Parkin has played in the Championship. Ian Roper has seen it, done it and got the t-shirt. Knapka I had at Swindon, so they have got some players who have been involved in promotions." Karl Duguid captained the side against Wolves and, if selected, he will do again, but Sturrock is also thinking about other options. He said: "I will make my mind up at the end of August as to who the Captain will be. If Duguid plays, he will skipper the side. I will be taking 19 players up with us because of this new ruling where you can seven substitutes. I have got one niggling knock from somebody and I have got to make a decision as to how I pick the team. There are one or two players who played on Saturday that need the game. There are one or two who didn't play on Saturday that need the game. I have also got to think about winning a football game because it would be nice to have a wee run in a cup, for a change."
Jim Paterson is hoping to be given a chance to impress against Luton tonight. He said: "I was a wee bit disappointed not to start on Saturday, but the competition is there for every position. People know now that they need to go out and perform – or they won't play. I was really looking forward to the season, and, like I said, I was disappointed not to start, but I'm sure that's the same for every boy on the bench and in the squad who didn't feature. It's only right as a professional footballer that you want to start every game." Paterson was sent on as a substitute against Wolves, playing on the right side of midfield before finishing the match in central midfield, and he made it plain that the team were upset about not holding on to the lead they earned on two occasions during the game. "We were disappointed," he said. "We thought at 2-1 up we could get something, but fair play to Wolves. They had a lot of chances in the second half, and they snuck an equaliser. It was a good game, especially considering the conditions." Paterson is hoping that Argyle can play well enough tonight to ensure progress in the Carling Cup. He said: "Luton will be a test away from home, but we'll go there in a positive frame of mind. On Saturday, we came out and we proved we can fight, battle and scrap. It was probably our best performance since we came back. At Luton, it's a cup game away from home, so there's always a danger, but, if we play well, I'm confident we can get a result up there."
Marcel Seip started against Wolves on Saturday, and scored Argyle's second goal. It was his first match since he was disciplined by the club for refusing to be a substitute against Charlton Athletic last April. Seip has apologised to Sturrock and to his team-mates, and he now considers the matter closed. After the game, he said: "I don't want to look back. Everybody knows what happened. This is a new season, and all I want to do is do well for the team again."
Craig Cathcart could make his Argyle debut Luton Town tonight. Argyle are still without full-backs David McNamee and Gary Sawyer, but McNamee, who failed a fitness test yesterday, should be back in training before the end of the week. Paul Sturrock said: "I haven't decided on the team yet, but I do feel there are one or two who played on Saturday who need the game, and there are one or two who didn't play on Saturday who need the game. But I have also got to think about winning a football game. It would be nice to have a wee cup run for a change." Romain Larrieu is still troubled by a groin strain so Graham Stack will probably continue in goal. Sturrock has not had much success in the Carling Cup but hopes that will change this season. "It's something I just can't get past the first round in, but it would be very nice to break the hoodoo tonight," he said. A new rule in the Carling Cup this season allows teams to pick up to seven substitutes, instead of five. Only three of them can be used, however
Argyle are hoping to sign Republic of Ireland international midfielder Darron Gibson on loan from Manchester United before the end of the month. The deal has been delayed by a spate of injuries at Old Trafford. Argyle have also been in talks with Stoke City about the possible transfer of midfielder Glenn Whelan
Paul Sturrock selected Graham Stack over Romain Larrieu on Saturday, and explained that injury was part of the reason for the decision. He said: "Romain has been carrying a wee groin strain and I want to give him time. Stack had a good competent game." Another man making his debut was Chris Barker, signed after Gary Sawyer was ruled out with an ongoing hamstring problem. Sturrock said: "Gary Sawyer has had something bothering him for about six months now. We are going to have another specialist looking at it next week. I sat down and thought about the kind of full-back I was looking for and someone with experience was what I wanted. Barker certainly fits that mould and he had a very competent, solid game." Sturrock also praised his youthful central midfield duo of Luke Summerfield and Simon Walton. He said: "You also have to remember the two centre-midfield players. They are fighting over who is the oldest and they were very competent in the engine room. Simon Walton looks half-fit to me but, if we get him up to speed, we will have a very good player on our hands. Jason Puncheon came on and looked a real handful as well." Sturrock turned his attention to the performance of strikers and added: "Rory worked his tail off to the extent he was out on his feet. Easter is as hardworking as anybody - I would like him to get a goal or two and you would see a different player. Strangely enough, until Saturday, I was starting to worry about Rory again because I didn't see the Rory of the last ten games through pre-season. He came to the show today, won his headers and put himself about." Sturrock knows he has a number of decisions to make ahead of tomorrow's visit to Luton Town, and the trip to Reading on Saturday. He said: "I will have to make a lot of decisions about Tuesday. Barker and Walton were definitely firing on fumes at the end of the game and there were a couple of others as well, and we have a big game for next Saturday."
Graham Stack put in a man-of-the-match display on his debut for Argyle on Saturday. Stack, who was chosen in preference to Romain Larrieu, who had been troubled by a groin injury, conceded two goals but could not be faulted for either. He said: "It was frenetic to say the least. They created lots of chances and we created a few ourselves. We were clinical when we had ours. We put ourselves in front on two occasions but, unfortunately for us, we couldn't hold onto the lead. I think we knew there was going to be attack after attack. Come the last 20 minutes they threw on fresh legs in Iwelumo and Vokes, and they both caused problems. The conditions played a part as well. It was quite scrappy at times. But we competed all round the pitch. The lads were superb today – everyone who started and everyone who came on. It was a real team effort. There has been quite a bit of negativity flying about before the start of the season, with lack of signings and so on. But I think the lads showed a great attitude and application today. We are a tight-knit group, and if we stick together and work hard there is no reason why we can't kick on in the league. Wolves are potentially one of the favourites to go up, so to get a point at home is a start. It gives us something to build on." Stack only found out an hour before kick-off he would play against Wolves, and he added: "It's unusual. I have never experienced that before. I had to prepare for the game as I would for any other, expecting to play, but it wasn't easy. It was a big game for myself because I have got connections with Wolves having been there last season. It wasn't like I had a point to prove. It wasn't that at all. I wanted to show my potential as a goalkeeper and it just so happened it was against one of my previous sides. I was happy with the way I performed today. Obviously, your target is to keep a clean sheet. Once that goes out of the window, you want to win the game. Unfortunately, I got neither, but there plenty of positives I can take away from it." Stack was especially busy in the second-half as Wolves put Argyle under pressure. He said: "There were blocks and things tipped around the post, and certain saves were made. Kightly had one where he went on a run and chipped the ball. I had to tip it over the bar, and I think the timing of that was crucial. If that had gone in it would have given them a real lift and there was still plenty of time on the clock. But, at the end of the day, that's my job and that's what I'm there for. I don't expect any more pats on the back than what big Rory had today. He was different class. I thought the two boys up front were excellent. They competed, they put themselves about and they were a real nuisance. Plaudits to everyone."
Argyle have been reported to the Football League by Sheffield Wednesday over an alleged illegal approach for Peter Gilbert. Wednesday manager Brian Laws said: "Whilst I knew about this and was very disappointed to hear about it I was not going to allow anything to detract from our preparations for the start of the new Championship season. We will deal with the matters accordingly." There has been no comment from Argyle so far
Paul Sturrock was delighted with the way team performed yesterday. "I am very pleased that people responded to the challenge," he said. "From the crowd to the players, management and directors, there was an apprehension for everybody in Plymouth with the change in personnel we have had to deal with in the last 18 months. The players have shown honesty, attitude, work-rate and a modicum of ability as well, and I am very pleased with the make-up of the side. To give debuts to Stack, Walton, Barker and Duguid is a very hard thing to do. The great backbone of old has gone and we have had to build from zero. It takes a bit of time for that transition to come through but I was very pleased everybody responded, and the fans were absolutely terrific." The downside was the two soft equalizers Argyle allowed and Sturrock added: "It must have been exciting for the crowd but I was disappointed to lose two goals - they could have been prevented and we have something to work on. We played a good team today. They have spent a lot of money and I am sure they are going to very well. They are very strong, very physical and it was always going to be a stern test, but we responded well. I am hoping now some of them will take confidence." Sturrock knows he will need to strengthen his team even further in the coming weeks. He said: "When I first came back to the football club, I said it was the hardest job I had ever taken on. I knew there was going to be a change of personnel, although I didn't know it would come as soon as January after taking over in November. We had to bring in some personnel quickly. I was then very confident I could bring in players during the summer and then lo and behold, no players. What I would now like is to bring in a body or two to help because there were people out on the pitch who probably should have come off. We are still three players short. There are two key areas where we have to make sure we have more personnel. I have big job on my hands but I am enjoying the challenge. I am sticking my hand in the top hat and can't grab many rabbits' ears."
Chris Barker had an eventful debut to complete a busy 24 hours. He nearly missed the start of yesterdays game because he could not remove a ring from his finger. New Football League rules mean that, this season, all jewellery must be removed and not simply taped up, so drastic action was required. "He couldn't get his ring off his finger, so Puncheon and MacLean eventually took a hacksaw to it," Paul Sturrock said. "I was hyperventilating in the toilet - I thought they were going to cut his finger off as well. They eventually got it off but cut him." Barker said: "I've got a nice scar on my finger. As I was walking out of the changing-room, the referee said 'You are not allowed any rings, you will have to take it off.' I've had it on eight years. It was one my Dad gave me before he passed away. Hopefully, we can mend it again." It was touch and go that Barker would make it for the kick-off, with substitute Jim Paterson taking a place in the pre-match line-up. "Jim Paterson had to go on the pitch just in case they couldn't get the ring off," said Sturrock. "It is a zany rule. I could never imagine somebody would make up a rule that involved a hacksaw being taken to somebody's finger. The rule is black and white. You are not allowed a piece of jewellery on your body, even if the finger comes off with it. The referee was standing there saying he can't go on but, eventually, thankfully, it came off. His ring is now half a ring." Ring troubles aside, Barker was delighted to get back into first-team action. "It was nice," he said. "I haven't played a first-team game for about six months so it was hard, but nice to get a game over and done with. To go straight into the team without training was obviously difficult, but I thought we did okay. It was nice to get a game under my belt but there's a lot more to come. I thought I did okay - steady Eddie - I haven't played for six months and drove 250 miles on Friday night. I've known for a few days there's been a couple of clubs interested, but when Plymouth rang, I had no doubt - I packed my gear within half an hour and hopped in the car. Plymouth finished mid-table last season and I spoke to the gaffer and he wants to push forward. I want to play football. I got stuck in a bit of a rut at QPR, where there's many players coming in and many players going out. I've been training with the reserves, the kids, and obviously, it's not the same standard." Barker met his new team-mates for the first time just before kick-off, although not all of them were strangers. He said: "I know Simon Walton from QPR; I was on loan at Colchester with Karl Duguid; I was with Rory Fallon at Barnsley when he was a youth trainee many years ago."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Home Park, the goals scored by Rory Fallon after 7 minutes and Marcel Seip (55). Argyle: Stack, Duguid, Doumbe, Seip, Barker, Clark, Walton, Summerfield, Mackie, Easter, Fallon. Subs – Timar, Paterson, Puncheon (not used – Larrieu, MacLean). Attendance - 14,789
Argyle today announced the signing of defender Chris Barker from QPR for an undisclosed fee. Barker has agreed a three-year contract. Paul Sturrock said: "I am very pleased, because Gary Sawyer has a lingering hamstring problem and he just can't seem to get rid of it. We have admired Chris from afar in the past. He has a wealth of experience after playing for several Championship teams. He is more than 6ft tall with a long throw, and has great experience. We are slowly getting a squad together and this is the type of player we are looking for. We want a squad of 22 good players."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake will return to Home Park for the first time today and Mathias Doumbe hopes to make it a miserable afternoon for the striker. He said: "Sylvan is a really good player. He has got a good touch and he can sharp strike the ball quite fast. Even though he's not the biggest, he's really strong as well and he can turn you easily. We have just got to be aware of everything he can do and try to position ourselves properly." Doumbe regularly came up against Ebanks-Blake in training sessions abd added: "It does help me, but it helps him as well because he has been training against me. I suppose we are even." Doumbe is starting his fifth season at Argyle and is aiming to be much more involved in the starting line-up than he was last term. He said: "I'm really optimistic. I would like the club to do well and I would like to do well for myself because I had a difficult time last year I'm feeling good and the fitness is there. We just have to wait one more day now. The hamstring injury I had earlier in pre-season was like the start of the one I had last year, but it was the other leg. This time I stopped before I aggravated it. It didn't hold me back too long, just six days I think. Since I have been back in training nothing else has happened." Wolves are widely tipped as promotion candidates this season and Doumbe believes they will be up there challenging. He said: "People have high hopes for Wolves every year. It's normal because they have got good players and are always bringing in new ones. But we are at home and I think we have a good chance."
Argyle open their season today and Jamie Mackie thinks their form at Home Park will be crucial to their chances of a successful campaign. He said: "I think if we get our home form right we have got a good chance this season. People struggle when they come down here because we are an organised team. We need to keep that mentality, and get what we can away from home. The Championship is so strong and if we can pick up points away from home then good, but our home form needs to be spot on." Up to six players could make their debuts for Argyle today and Mackie is convinced the new faces can all make a positive contribution to the cause. He said: "People haven't been here for a long time, but sometimes I think that's good. The new players are fresh and want to impress the fans and make a name for themselves down here. I don't see that as a problem as long as we can gel quickly." Argyle ended last season with a 1-0 defeat against Wolves and Mackie added: "In a way last season finished a little bit early for me because I started playing towards the back end and I was doing all right. Now it's a new season and we start with them. I can't wait. They are going to be one of the top teams in the Championship without a doubt. They have got some very talented players."
Krisztian Timar has been selected for Hungary's friendly at home to Montenegro on August 20th
Chris Clark knows that Argyle will be facing tough opposition when the season starts today. He said: "Wolves are a very strong team, and I think they're one of the favourites to win promotion. We had a young team out there that day at the end of last season, and I think we held them very well until that late goal. But this is the first game of a new season, and it's a totally different challenge. We're at home, we'll have the support behind us, and it's a game we're all looking forward to." Clark was used on the right side of midfield in that game and has also turned out at right-back, in central midfield and on the left flank in his first few months at Home Park. His versatility is, he feels, a big asset. "I'm pleased at the way I've developed as a player, and I enjoy playing in different positions," he said. "It can give you more chance of selection, and I feel I can do a job in any position. I enjoy the challenge." Asked in what way he had improved as a player since he arrived at Home Park he added: "The physical side of the game, and the need to always be strong and positive, maybe. Those are aspects of the game that are always important, but I think you can always learn something from every manager. You always pick up something new." Since the end of last season, Clark has had his first taste of Paul Sturrock's pre-season routine, and he said: "It has been very tough, and the whole squad has been working very hard. There have been three sessions a day up until this last week, and mentally it can affect you. You get tired, but that's when you have to be strong. You have to make sure you're right for the start of the season, but pre-season can feel long because of the amount of training we have to do. We're looking forward to getting the season started."
Paul Sturrock has called on his players to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into the battle ahead. "It is the start of the season now," he said. "The slippers are off and the football boots are on. It is time to roll up our sleeves and do battle. The reports I have had suggest Wolves are playing very well and so are Reading, so it will be nice to play two form-teams at the start of the season." One of the main threats in the Wolves team will be Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, but Sturrock is expecting his defenders to give the striker a tough return to Home Park. He said: "Hopefully, he will get a torrid time and our two centre-halves will make sure he remembers the trip down to Plymouth. Timar is beginning to move his feet quicker. He missed the start of last season as well and I would not want to put him in a situation where he struggles. Having said that, Wolves have got height in there team and that is one of his main strengths." Victory today would be an impressive achievement with Sturrock still a long way from completing his re-building. He said: "I don't think we are settled as a team yet but that will come during the season. I am not a great believer in peaking in the first game because the thirtieth game could be a problem. I did not take a holiday this year because it was vitally important that we brought players to the football club, so I could have pre-season with them. That has not happened but I am happy with the players I have brought in. They have done reasonably well. I am just delighted the season is about to start because there will be several more players available between now and August. Clubs will now be deciding who they want to keep and I imagine there will be a number battle-hardened campaigners becoming available."
Paul Sturrock has some injury concerns lingering ahead of the game with Wolves. He said: "We have one or two players needing late fitness tests and they would play if they are available. I am a bit disappointed that we have gone all through pre-season without any problems and then we get one or two things in the last couple of days. We have not had a double-session this week because I want to leave it in their legs but we have done a lot of sharpness-work."
Argyle have boosted their squad on the eve of the new season with the signing of Craig Cathcart from Manchester United. Cathcart, a 6ft 2in centre-back, has joined the Pilgrims on a six-month loan and goes straight into the squad for tomorrow's season-opener. Paul Sturrock said: "Craig Cathcart is a big centre-half that we have been watching from afar. It is an area of the team where we had injuries and suspensions last year, and we eventually had to bring Russell Anderson in on loan. I don't want that scenario to happen again. He is a good centre-half with good qualities, and you don't play for Manchester United if you're not of a very decent standard. I am very happy to bring the boy on board and it is up to him to get himself in the team. The 19-year-old left-footer has yet to make a first-team appearance for United, but is already a Northern Ireland Under-21 international. The Belfast-born youngster also spent the first half of last season playing in the Belgian top flight, making 13 appearances for United's feeder club, Royal Antwerp.
Yoann Folly has been called-up by Togo for the international friendly against the Democratic Republic of Congo in Paris on Wednesday, 20th August, and Jermaine Easter has been selected for the Wales squad to play Georgia in a friendly match on the same day.
The new-look Pilgrims take on Wolverhampton Wanderers at Home Park tomorrow, and the club is urging supporters to get behind the team. The visitors are expected to fill all 3,000 of their allocated seats, and are sure to be in good voice. But The Greens are hoping that Argyle fans will come out in their droves to support the team and help turn Home Park into a fortress. A club spokesman said: "We need our fans to be up for it – to drown out the colour and noise that the Wolves fans will make and get the new season off to a good start. We need all our players to get behind us and our fans are our number 12." The game will also see the first return to Home Park of former Pilgrim Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, after the striker became one of numerous Argyle favourites to jump ship last season.
Graham Stack and Romain Larrieu should find out today who has won the contest to keep goal in the season opener tomorrow. Long-serving Larrieu, who has been at Home Park since 2000, and Stack, who joined this summer, have had an equal share of opportunities in the Pilgrims' programme of warm-up matches. One of them will be picked to face Wolverhampton Wanderers tomorrow at Home Park – but Argyle manager Paul Sturrock has not yet decided which one. "I'm open-minded about that situation," the manager said yesterday. "I'm leaving that decision until tomorrow. The two goalies have different attributes, and I have to pick which one will suit the opposition we're playing." Asked if the choice of first-team goalkeeper was one of the hardest selection decisions he faces, the Argyle boss replied: "Yes, I think so. I think the two of them have been very competent in pre-season, and it's a decision I'm going to take time over."
Asked if he had picked his captain, manager Paul Sturrock responded: "I'll toss a coin tomorrow. There are two or three contenders, but I've had so much to think about – the transfer market, the goalie situation, the team we're playing against – that the captaincy issue has gone to the back of my mind. There will be a captain for this game, but I might change my mind two or three games in," the Argyle manager added. "Karl Duguid has been a captain before, but we'll wait and see. There are one or two targets in the transfer market I'm still trying to bring in, which is why it's very difficult to name somebody as captain at this juncture," Sturrock explained. "There are two people who I think would be very receptive to being captain, so, if I name a captain now, I might end up having to change things. But I believe there will be a team captain and a club captain – by the end of August."
The quest for new recruits is ongoing but midfield man Simon Walton, who was bought from Queen's Park Rangers on Wednesday, will be Sturrock's only signing this week. Asked if there would be any further arrivals before the game against Wolves on Saturday, the Argyle manager answered: "No. Definitely not." The transfer market shuts down for the year at the end of the month, and it may take Sturrock that long to complete his rebuilding operation. He said: "Are we settled as a team? I don't think we are, but that will come as the season unfolds. I'm not a great believer in trying to peak for your first game."
Jamie Mackie has insisted that the support he has received from Plymouth Argyle supporters has helped him settle into Home Park life a lot quicker than he first envisaged. A few eyebrows were raised amongst the Pilgrims' faithful when manager Paul Sturrock shelled out £145,000 in January to secure the services of the 22-year-old forward from Exeter City. Several months on, Mackie is seen by some as a potential dark horse within the Argyle ranks. "The fans have helped me massively to settle in here," said Mackie. "When I get the ball they want me to do something with it, so that helped me with my game. I think, though, I can still offer a great deal more, both in terms of myself and the team. This is going to be my first full season as a Plymouth player and that is all I have been focused on. I want to do well, I want to show people what I can do. It's my first season back in the Championship, so I'm really looking forward to it. I know I still have a lot to learn, but my aim is to try and be a regular and to score as many goals as possible." Mackie added: "Austria was a tough training camp but it was one that we all needed together. The weather was pretty poor over there, but it was good to spend time with all the lads. And, because there wasn't a great deal to do, the lads bonded well together and we had a really good time." Being a close-knit unit will help Argyle's cause in what will be a demanding season, according to Mackie. He added: "I have been in some tough leagues – the Conference is very tough to get out of – but this is a whole different ball game. This league is so tough, so I wouldn't know who is going to win it and who is going to go down. All I know is that it is going to be really competitive, and that we are going to give it everything this season."
Paul Sturrock's pursuit of Bristol Rovers defender Danny Coles has ended in defeat. Argyle made three offers for the 26-year-old but all of them were rejected by Rovers, who are now in talks with Coles over a new contract. Bristol-born Coles admitted Argyle's interest in him was 'flattering' but pledged his future to Rovers.
Argyle have signed the 'new' Steve Adams in 20-year-old midfielder Simon Walton, according to manager Paul Sturrock. Sturrock said: "He has got a range of pass and he's good in the air. He has got all the ingredients a sitting midfield player needs. That's what I was looking for. If you remember what Stevie Adams brought to this football club, I do believe we have got a player of a similar ilk. Now I have got to try to find two or three others of this kind of standard." Walton fills a vacancy which was created when club captain Paul Wotton and Lilian Nalis were released by Sturrock at the end of last season. Sturrock said: "A football team is like a jigsaw puzzle and when certain pieces become available it's vitally important you go and grab them. We have obviously been looking in the market for this type of midfield player. His age is a great benefit as well and he comes with experience of the position, as a sitting midfield player. We feel we have got a big asset on our hands, and we also believe he will blossom into a better player here." Sturrock added: "The laddie has been shunted from pillar to post through injuries, change of managers and everything else, and I do feel his career has stood still. I think it's now vitally important he beds himself down to 40-games-plus a season for the next four years and we get fantastic service off him. At his age, that's the kind of players with great potential that we would like to bring to the football club. He has all the pedigree to kick on and if he listens, which I'm sure he will, he has got a chance to have a fantastic career." Sturrock has confirmed Walton will make his debut for Argyle against Wolves on Saturday. That means Walton will only have two training sessions to get to know his new team-mates, but the manager is not concerned about that. "He has got experience, and we have got Thursday and Friday to put a bit of shape to him and talk him through what we are looking for," said the Pilgrims' boss. "Then the baptism of fire turns up." Asked whether he thought he would be fit enough to face Wolves, Walton replied: "Fine. No worries."
Simon Walton admits that his move to Argyle is a massive step for him. "Over the past year, with injuries and whatever, I have hit a bit of a brick wall," he said. ""I see this as an ideal place to get back on track as to where I want to be and what I want personally by being part of a team as well." Walton and his pregnant fiancee Nicola Tappenden, a leading glamour model, visited Plymouth last Friday, when he agreed to sign for Argyle. They were shown around Home Park, and the city, by manager Paul Sturrock, vice-chairman Robert Dennerly and his boardroom colleague Tony Wrathall. Walton said: "It's a lovely place, but, to be honest, football comes first for me and I saw this as a great move for my career. Obviously, the area helps and, hopefully, it's somewhere I can settle. But football was the main priority." Walton added: "I have played here five times I think, and I know away teams don't really want to come here. I have obviously come up against quite a few of the players here. I don't know any of them personally yet, but that will change. When I have played here, it has been hostile to say the least at times, which is good when you are on the home team."
Paul Sturrock is still working away behind the scenes to add more new recruits to his squad. He said: "It would be great if we could bring one or two in over the next week, enabling us to get more settled as quickly as possible. I don't want to be sitting in October still having pieces missing." Sturrock is chasing permanent signings, as well as trying to borrow players from Premier League clubs. He said: "I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face as far as loan signings are concerned. I have had great benefits in the past, at any football club I have been at, with loan players. It would be nice to think we could reap the benefits of that again. But there are also one or two others who I would like to bring in that would be permanent deals."
16-year-old striker Liam Head has been given another chance to establish himself in the England Under-17 squad for the UEFA U17 Championship qualifiers which take place in Spain in October. He is included in an 18-strong squad for a four-team tournament which takes place at various venues in East Anglia during the last week of August. First-year professional Damien McCrory has also been offered the chance to continue his international development. The young winger has been called-up by the Republic of Ireland for an international friendly tournament involving Portungal, Ukraine and Spain, which takes place in Ireland at the end of August.
Argyle have confirmed the capture of midfielder Simon Walton for a club record transfer fee. The 20-year-old has signed from Queens Park Rangers on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of £750,000. Argyle manager Paul Sturrock said of Walton: “Simon is a player who I have monitored for years and I feel he is perfect for us. He is 6ft 2in, strong and athletic, and ideally suited to the sitting midfield role we have been looking to fill. He is both young and experienced, and willing to learn, which is important. We have got a right good player for the future of Plymouth Argyle – a real nugget.”
Paul Sturrock has strongly hinted that Krisztian Timar will not start the season-opener against Wolves at Home Park on Saturday. The Pilgrims' boss seems set to choose Mathias Doumbe and Marcel Seip as his centre-back pairing for the game. Timar, who was Argyle's 2007/08 player-of-the-year, has made three appearances this pre-season after his recovery from a serious head injury suffered in the season-ending 1-0 defeat away to Wolves on May 4. But Sturrock believes the 28-year-old Hungarian international is not back to his best yet. The manager said: “I think you saw there was a sharpness problem with him the other day. It will take him time just to get himself bedded back in again. I thought Doumbe did very well on Saturday and Marcel has played very well throughout the pre-season. So I would have no qualms about playing those two together.” Sturrock added: “Krisztian had a big shock with the injury he had, and a big operation, and coming back from that is not easy.”
Paul Sturrock has defended his decision to send a young side to fulfil the pre-season friendly against Swindon Town at the County Ground on Monday. Swindon manager Maurice Malpas was angry about that as he planned to use the game as final preparation for the start of the new League One season. Sturrock, who was a long-time team-mate of Malpas at Dundee United, was unrepentant. “Our boys did very well,” he said. “I was very pleased for them. The reason behind it was that, basically, my job is to do what's best for Plymouth Argyle. I thought my players looked very leggy on Saturday against Dundee United, and I didn't feel it would be a benefit for four or five squad players to travel two-and-a-half hours up there and two-and-a-half hours back. When the game was arranged, I thought I would have known what my starting 11 for the season would be by then. Had that been the case, I would have sent all my other players, but it's still a quandary in my mind.” Sturrock added: “I don't think our boys let themselves down in any way. It was a competitive game right through. Swindon decided to play their full first team squad. Well, that was their preference.”
Argyle lost 3-0 in their final preseason warm-up last night, but it was a men v boys affair, with discontent all round the County Ground about the strength – or lack of it – of the Argyle side. Dan Smith was the only visiting player with any Championship experience. He was one of five junior professionals in the Pilgrims' line-up, which was completed by six apprentices. Swindon manager Maurice Malpas expressed his displeasure after the game: “It was advertised as a first-team game, they were meant to bring their first team, and they never done it. It was disappointing, because the fans paid good money. We'd never have taken a game against a youth team on our pitch.” Malpas added. “A lot of effort went into the game tonight to prepare for it, and it was too late in the day for us to really change anything. There'll be a few words privately said between myself and Luggy.” The Swindon side, in contrast, was well stocked with experienced performers – including former Argyle stalwarts Lilian Nalis and Hasney Aljofree. Paul Sturrock wasn't at the game and youth-team coach Mike Pejic took charge. Team: Saxton, White, Hodgkinson, Brett, Trott, McCaul, Kinsella, Bolasie, Smith, McCrory, Mason (J Grant).
Argyle are on the brink of signing midfielder Simon Walton for a club record £750,000 transfer fee. Walton is expected to complete his move from Queens Park Rangers provided he passes a medical tomorrow. The tough-tackling 20-year-old visited Home Park on Friday and has agreed personal terms. Argyle's spending will not stop with the arrival of Walton; the club is also reported to be in advanced talks with two other players – one a tall centre-back and the other an attacking midfielder. The latter is at a Premier League club and is ready to make the move to Argyle. The transfer fees for Walton and the two other players are expected to total £1.5 million.
Argyle lost 1-0 to Dundee Utd in their only home pre-season friendly yesterday. Team: Larrieu (Stack 45), Duguid, Paterson (Puncheon 58), Timar (Seip 65), Easter, Kuou-Doumbe, Fallon (MacLean 65), McNamee, Sawyer, Summerfield (Folly 72), Mackie (Bolasie 81). After the game Paul Sturrock said: "I have lost friendlies before and won Championships - this means nothing. The competition starts next week, when there will be an edge to the players. Instead of 4,000 today, there will be 13,000 next Saturday, and maybe more. The players have aired their views. I have aired mine. It is now vitally important we come together. We are a young team and confidence is a key factor to a new team." With no illusions about the challenge ahead, Luggy added: "There is only one left from the old guard. Napoleon used to have a formation of the old guard - he always put this brigade in for the final battle. The backbone of that old guard has been here for the last two or three managers. The old guard has now gone and we have a new era, and transition is difficult. We have Romain and nobody else. That backbone of knowledge, of winners has been taken away and we have to mould another team to be as good, if not better, but we are now in the Championship, which makes it doubly hard. We have got a huge task. We have young players who are finding their feet in the Championship and it is going to be a real tussle for them to overcome the psychological side. I have got no doubts about the technical ability of most of the players. The doubts I have had surrounds their psyche. We had a good week in Austria but we have come back and had a bad week in Plymouth. It is now important we get into battle mode." Luggy reserved a final nugget of praise for the marvelous Dundee United fans, who sang their Tangerine hearts out from start to finish. "They were fantastic. They are great fans but the important thing for me now is to get things right here."
The manager had harsh words with some of his players after the final whisle, but admitted that they need the support of a larger squad. He said: "They need a hand, and we have one player who has put a pen to paper - with the proviso that he passes a medical on Tuesday. I would like to think we will have several more players coming to the football club before the window closes. There are some talented players I would like to bring to the football club - ones that have played in the Championship, as well. I envisage four or five players still coming in, which would take us up to the 22 we need."
Paul Sturrock has said that high wage demands are the reason he has struggled to bring players to the club. "Agents seem to have decided that there's a certain band of wages that everybody should be paid at this club," said Sturrock. "I'm afraid to say that we just can't go down that road. There's also a certain wage that some people are holding out for like a gun to our head at this minute in time and that we could just not realistically afford." But Sturrock added that he is still hopeful of strengthening his squad in time for the first game of the new Championship season next Saturday. "We realise that there are one or two players that we are going to have to push the boat out for as far as transfer money and wages are concerned," he said. "We need that type of player to come and play in our first team. I think the board and the chairman are very appreciative about that."
The Argyle manager has criticised some players for not pushing themselves enough. Talking about today's pre-season against Dundee Utd he said: “It's a very important game for us – some of the players need a wee taste of the pitch because they've got to realise how big it is and we've got to get the taste of Yeovil out of our mouths. The players have been pre-warned, starting today, that the letter of the law is the law and what I say will be done or they won't play. “I want to emphasise to everyone at this football club that this football team is a hardworking, honest team and we are kidding ourselves if we think we're different from that.” Sturrock added: “We have got to be as good as we can be against teams when we've got the ball, but we've got to be even better when they've got the ball.”
Paul Sturrock will take centre stage when Plymouth Argyle play Dundee United in their penultimate pre-season friendly at Home Park tomorrow. The Pilgrims' boss is still held in the highest esteem at the Scottish Premier League club after an outstanding career at United. In a week where Sturrock has revealed he has Parkinson's Disease, Argyle and United supporters will have the opportunity to show their appreciation to him. Sturrock said: “It will be a very enjoyable day. United are my team and I'm looking forward to it. I spent 21 years there – 15 as a player, four as a coach and two as a manager – and the club and the supporters are very special to me. There are still a lot of people at the club who were there when I was. Dundee United and Plymouth Argyle are the two most important clubs in my career and now they are playing each other tomorrow.” United are famed for wearing a tangerine and black strip, but tomorrow they will be in their white away kit. That is because Sturrock wants Argyle to play in their new tangerine and green away colours. He said: “It's our new away strip for the season and I don't think many fans will have seen it, so it will be good to give it an airing tomorrow.”
Dundee United captain Lee Wilkie will play at Home Park for the first time tomorrow, even though the Scotland international defender had a loan spell with Argyle in 2001. The 6ft 4in centre-back was signed by Paul Sturrock early in his first stint as the Pilgrims' boss on a three-month loan from United's city rivals, but then recalled by Dundee after two away appearances for Argyle. Now, more than seven years later, the defender will run out at Home Park for the first time.
Argyle are now about to embark on their fifth successive season in the Championship, and Paul Sturrock believes tomorrow's pre-season clash will be a good work-out for them. He was critical of the players after the lacklustre display in a 1-0 defeat away to Yeovil Town on Tuesday. But, on reflection, Sturrock admitted there were reasons why they were so sluggish at Huish Park. He said: “We have had a very strenuous pre-season training programme, which we are winding down now. In hindsight, we did a lot of work at our training camp in Austria last week, and we did a lot of travelling as well. I think the players were a wee bit leg weary the other night. I gave them a day off yesterday so they could get some rest. We will work hard on our system in training today, and on our set pieces, which we haven't even touched yet,” added Sturrock.
Former Argyle midfielder Lilian Nalis has signed a one-year contract with Swindon Town. The 36-year-old is now set to line up for Swindon when Argyle visit the County Ground on Monday (7.45pm) for their last pre-season friendly.
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