A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
David Norris left Argyle with a heavy heart to join Ipswich today, and stressed that his reasons for wanting to move on were personal, rather than professional, and he paid tribute to the club. "I have had a fantastic six seasons at Argyle," he said. "It is a great club, from top to bottom, and I have nothing but admiration for the way it is run. The directors, managers, office staff - everyone from the chairman down to the gate-man - have been tremendous to me. The board and the manager did everything they could to persuade me to stay, but, in the end, I feel I have to leave. I was made an unbelievable offer, which would have set me up financially for the rest of my career. But it is not all about money, or even football. I have no doubt that I could achieve everything I want to achieve in the game by staying at Home Park. I am sure that great success is just around the corner for this club. However, this move will allow me to be closer to my family, who are very important to me. I have been away from home for a long time now, and this was a chance to go back, which had a huge pull on me. I am leaving with a tear in my eye and I think part of me will always be a Pilgrim. Argyle and their tremendous Green Army will always hold special memories and be close to my heart. It has been a pleasure to represent Argyle and to be part of a fantastic club. I wish the board, the manager, and the whole club lots of luck for the future. Believe me, they really deserve it." Paul Stapleton admitted that the club would miss Norris but insisted that their was no acrimony caused by his departure. "Chuck has been a superb player for us for since Paul Sturrock signed him in 2002," he said, "and the board would like to go on record and thank him for his many, many great games in a Green shirt. He was an intrinsic part of the 2003-04 championship-winning team, and one of the best players I have ever seen at Home Park. He gave everything for the cause whenever he pulled on the shirt, and his high-octane performances will live long in the memory. We will miss him, as a person, as well as a player, but we respect his reasons for moving on. We did all that we could to persuade him to remain at Home Park, including offering him a new contract that would have made him the highest paid player at Argyle. But, for personal reasons, he felt the time was right to leave, and it would not have been right to stand in his way." Paul Sturrock said: "David Norris has been the heart of the team since he came to the club as a young lad. He has blossomed tremendously and, when he plays and performs, and shows that urgency, it has rubbed off on others. But players come and players go in football - it is part of the rhythm and pulse of the game. His leaving now offers other midfielders the opportunity to come in and stake their claim. We have already recruited Chris Clark, from Aberdeen, Yoann Folly, from Sheffield Wednesday, and Gyorgy Sandor, from Ujpest, and I am very excited by what they bring to the party. Others will follow before the start of next season as I build a team in the Paul Sturrock mould of which I have no doubt that the Green Army will be proud."
Argyle today signed defender Jim Paterson from Motherwell, for an undisclosed fee thought to be £250,000
Scott Laird has completed his move from Argyle to Stevenage Borough. Laird has joined Stevenage on a free transfer but an agreement between the clubs could see Argyle receive payments based on future performance
David Norris will join Ipswich Town today for An Argyle club record fee of £2 million. The transfer was finally agreed yesterday having been hampered by a sell-on clause owed to Bolton Wanderers. Under the terms of the original agreement, Argyle would have had to pay 50 per cent to Bolton if they sold Norris but Ipswich, who have close links with Bolton, have arranged a deal with Wanderers which will involve them getting less. Reports suggest that Argyle will receive around £1.25m for the player
Argyle won 10-0 at Elmore last night, to progress to the quarter-final of the St Luke's Challenge Bowl, where they will play Dawlish Town. Paul Wotton played the full 90 minutes at centre-back and appeared to suffer no adverse reaction. The goals were scored by Josh Grant (5), Toby Davis, Ben Gerring, Lewis Edwards (2) and Shane Duggan. Mike Pejic said: "The players produced some excellent football and did all that was asked of them. Credit has to go to Elmore who competed throughout. But we produced some flowing football, we played really well and we were clinical in front of goal. Paul got to play the whole 90 minutes and that is great for his fitness levels. He did very well." Argyle: Misiewicz, King, Watts, Duggan, Gerring, Wotton, Edwards, Moult, Grant, Davis, Smith. Subs – Trott, Scott, Moody
Argyle target Neal Trotman has joined Preston North End
Argyle’s game at Southampton next month, postponed because of Saints' FA Cup fifth round tie, will now be played on Tuesday, February 19th
Argyle earned a point at Ipswich Town last night, and left Paul Sturrock scratching his head. "Football is a very strange game," he said. "We go to Portsmouth and come away with a disappointing result for the standards we reached and tonight we get a result that we didn't merit." Sturrock felt a lack of defensive communication was the biggest problem in the game, and said: "There was lethargy to our team from the first whistle. It is too easy an excuse to blame Saturday's game and it is not very often I can say that about my team but there was a sluggishness about us, in terms of thought and in movement. We dug deep and we have come here under difficult circumstances. A lot of teams have come here and been stuffed this season. I felt my back four did not talk to each other in the first-half and, if they don't talk, we have got absolutely no chance. Communication problems with foreign players in your back four can really affect your head and it did that tonight. We were on the back foot from the first whistle. Our back four didn't come to the show, compared to the standards they achieved on Saturday. When your back four is in that kind of zany mood, you have got absolutely no chance of getting any shape or rhythm to your team. The first-half petered out with waves of attacks on us and the second-half wasn't much better. I tried a weird and wonderful system in the second half to see if I could stem the flow but it just helped to make it worse. To be fair to the players, I am sitting here with a point and we have got to take some positives out of the game."
Paul Sturrock reiterated his desire to keep David Norris at Argyle last night. Sturrock made his comments after Ipswich made a third bid for Norris, believed to be £2 million. Sturrock also confirmed that another club, thought to be Leicester City, had made a bid for Norris. Norris did not travel with the squad to Ipswich and Sturrock admitted his absence had been felt. He said: "David Norris is the heart of the team and he has been, I believe, since he came to the football club as a young, raw laddie. He has blossomed tremendously, and when he plays and shows that urgency and that drive it seems to rub off on others. He was well missed." Asked whether Norris would still be an Argyle player after the transfer window closes, Sturrock replied: "The only way he will leave us is for a Plymouth price, and that's huge. At the end of the day, I haven't got a crystal ball and I can't foresee the fortune. All I will say is that we have got two days left and it will have to be a Plymouth price."
Oldham Athletic have confirmed Argyle have made a bid for Neal Trotman, and with the transfer window closing tomorrow, Paul Sturrock said: "It has been a hectic January and I think everybody is finding it hard bringing players into their football club at this minute in time, and I'm one of them. We have had many offers refused for lots of players we are trying to bring in. It's going to be touch and go whether we do, but we have still got a few irons in the fire. It's going to be a hard shift to get them in before Thursday. I'm going to sleep well in February, I can tell you that!"
Argyle drew 0-0 at Ipswich Town. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Doumbe, Sawyer, Clark, Nalis, Folly, Halmosi, Fallon, MacLean. Subs – Summerfield, Easter, Hodges (not used – Abdou, Jutkiewicz). Attendance - 20,095
Argyle will tonight attempt to become the first team to beat Ipswich Town at Portman Road in the Championship this season, but will have to do it without David Norris and Marcel Seip. Ipswich suffered their only defeat at Portman Road this season when they lost to Portsmouth in the FA Cup, and therefore has last weekend off. Paul Sturrock said: "There is a freshness to them obviously, and there is a confidence to them at home. It would be really nice to be playing them here, with what they have been through away from home. It's a difficult place to go to and the chairman gave me a few stats on Sunday night, such as the fact we have lost three goals in each of our last three games there, which doesn't augur well. But somebody has to beat them at home sooner or later, so let's hope it's us." Mathias Doumbe will continue to deputise for Marcel Seip against Ipswich and with David Norris not travelling, Sturrock must consider whether Lilian Nalis should play his second game in four days tonight. Steven MacLean is also available again after being cup-tied on Saturday. Sturrock added: "I have got to decide whether the front two were good enough on Saturday, or whether I should freshen it up with Steve MacLean, so that's another debate. There are also a couple of players who have looked good in training that have been on the periphery, so we will wait and see."
Argyle’s youth team beat Birmingham City 3-2 last night to progress to the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup. All three goals were scored by Jarred Stevens. Argyle: Saxton, Hopkinson, Hodkingson, White, Brett, Mason.J, McCaul, Moseley, McCrory, Stevens, Barnes. Subs - Edwards, Grant (not used - Misiewicz, Davis, Gerring)
Paul Wotton has turned down the chance to go out on loan as part of his recovery, as he is determined to continue his rehabilitation at Home Park. Paul Sturrock admitted it was the sort of attitude he appreciates and said: "I'm very pleased with Wottsie because he has looked sharper and sharper in training and he's definitely coming back to a standard. I gave him the opportunity yesterday to think about maybe having a month's loan somewhere and he turned it down point blank. He told me he had played in the green shirt for 12 years and didn't want to play in another colour strip in his career. I quite like that attitude and, in the end, we are just going to have to try to get more games for him. He is going to come back on Wednesday night for the Devon Bowl against Elmoor, and we are going to travel across Devon and Cornwall for games if we can't get reserve team matches. He merits getting games. He has to have an opportunity to really push himself for a new contract."
Paul Sturrock has decided that David Norris will not be involved in Argyle's game at Ipswich Town tomorrow night. "We have made a conscious decision not to include David," he said. "We have had a discussion and he is appreciative of the situation. It has not only been me who has come to this decision. After discussions with the player, we have come to the decision that he should not be involved. Disappointingly, there has been a lot of media coverage from a team that is very interested in David. I don't think he would be mentally attuned to the tussle and I don't think it would be fair of me to allow people to put the microscope on him. Every bad pass or mistake that he made would be highlighted. It is a decision that I don't take lightly because I don't want to not have my best player, but it is the wrong game to come so close to the end of the window. I had a real think about this. I do not want the scenario to fester anymore. Taking him out of this game puts a lot of pressure on me. I have got to think what is best for the football club. This one is just too big and the media coverage has flared up."
Chris Clark shared the disappointment of his new team-mates after Argyle's defeat at Portsmouth on Saturday. Clark, who scored after just four minutes of his debut, said: "The way we played, we deserved at least a draw. And with the amount of chances we created, we should have won the game, really. We were unlucky when we hit the post just before half-time. They hadn't created too much. We were a little bit disappointed with the way we lost the goals, but I think we kept our heads up and we still played good football." Clark opened the scoring with his first touch, a shot which deflected off Hermann Hreidarsson. He said: "I was just trying to make sure I hit the target really and I was delighted to see it go in. Obviously it took a big deflection but it was a good start for us. I think we still kept playing good football up until half-time, and were unlucky to be losing, to be honest. We carried it on in the second half and we could have won the game." Jermaine Easter hit the post shortly before Portsmouth took the lead in the 44th minute, and Clark thought Easter and Rory Fallon caused a lot of trouble for the Pompey defence. He said: "Jermaine did great to chase the ball down and was really unlucky to hit the post, and big Rory did an excellent job up against two big centre-backs. I think we can hold our heads up high and take a lot of confidence from the game." Argyle had penalty appeals waved away by referee Andre Marriner in the 76th minute for handball by Sylvain Distin, and Clark added: "We all claimed for it and I think we were just unlucky the referee didn't see it that way. We got on with it and I think we still looked dangerous after that. It just gives you a lot of confidence, to come and play like this against a Premier League side away from home. Everyone has done so well today and the manager was pleased with us, so we are looking forward to the next game." Clark was also impressed with the support of Argyle's 3,200 supporters at Fratton Park, and said: "We had an excellent travelling support with Aberdeen. They always created a great atmosphere and it was the same here. They were making some noise, even in the warm-up." David Norris moved into the centre of midfield to accommodate Clark on the right side, and Clark added: "I think it just shows how good a player David Norris is that he can adjust to that. You always need that in your side, to have the flexibility to move players about. I was pleased with my performance but I think everyone was magnificent today and we are just a wee bit gutted we didn't win."
Argyle under-18s take on Birmingham City in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup at Home Park tonight. Mike Pejic admitted his side are excited at the prospect of reaching the quarter-finals and of a big crowd to cheer them on. He said: "The lads and I think everyone involved at the club are getting excited and looking forward to what should be a very good game. The lads and myself are hopeful of getting a decent crowd to come and watch us win tonight. We won't be going into the game with any sense of inferiority, that's for sure, as confidence is high at the moment. We won't be complacent, though, either. We'll need to keep our discipline and control as we are playing another side who have deservedly reached this stage of the competition. Every round in this competition is a cup final for our lads, though. That's because in the Youth Cup they are getting the chance to play against sides they wouldn't usually come up against. But the lads have progressed match by match since my time at the club and proved they are a match for sides of the quality of Coventry, Portsmouth and, hopefully, tonight, Birmingham."
Argyle are reported to be close to signing Oldham Athletic defender Neal Trotman, and have also been linked with a move for Sheffield United defender Leigh Bromby. Paul Sturrock is also thought to be close to signing another striker
David Norris put in a typically industrious performance against Portsmouth, which did not surprise Paul Sturrock at all. Sturrock also remains convinced Norris will not leave Argyle during the transfer window. He said: "Chuck is a very professional man and he's appreciative of the situation. I would not expect anything less than 200 per cent from him because that's what he gives you every week. I was very pleased with his attitude and he showed a commitment to the cause. He has been a valuable asset to the team in the past and, hopefully, he will be a valuable asset to the team in time to come."
Argyle's game at Southampton, scheduled for February 16th, has been cancelled due to Saints FA Cup fifth round tie. A date for the re-arranged fixture has not yet been confirmed
Paul Sturrock found little to be disappointed with after the 2-1 defeat to Portsmouth yesterday. He said: "Over the piece, I am really, really happy with the attitude and work-rate. It's not often your fans give you a standing ovation off the pitch when you lose 2-1. That shows you how well the team played and it's a credit to the players. I thought they were fantastic from start to finish, and, in the end, it's been the finishing and superb goalkeeping that's really won the day for Portsmouth. They kept the shape of the team all through; we're solid at the back; the strikers did their business as far as holding the balls up and getting us in the right areas; and I thought Halmosi was excellent. But I don't want to start singling anybody out - this was very much a team game today. I'm pleased for everybody. I don't think anybody let us down." Lassana Diarra equalized for Portsmouth after Chris Clark's fifth-minute debut goal and Nico Krancjar scored the winner after a Portsmouth breakaway just before half-time. "A couple of zany moments has cost us dear," said Sturrock. "There were two clear-cut chances which they've taken: one was a deflection, and the second one, David Norris got the ball muddled up in his feet. We came in at half-time and the boys' heads were a wee bit down but we just told them straight that their performance had been excellent and to appreciate they were still in the game. We could have caved in after going 2-1 down, but we emphasized to them to keep doing what they were doing. The players are really disappointed and I know the fans will be really gutted about the result but I think they got their money's worth today. The boy James had made three or four quality saves in the first half. They went out and took the game to them again and in the first 25 minutes of the second half I think James has had three more saves. I think he might get man of the match. It's strange when a home Premiership team's goalie gets man of the match but it shows you how good we were up to the final finish. That's the disappointing thing - that we weren't clinical in and around the penalty area - but we showed a fantastic shape, a fantastic attitude; the work-rate of the team was excellent; the thought-process of the team was great; and in the end we can walk into a difficult game on Tuesday with our heads held high. They showed great mettle; they worked their tails off; they did all the things we asked them to, and that's nice - when a coach and a manager put forward a set plan and they stick to it. There are lot of positives to take from it." Argyle had two great shouts for a penalty late in the game, the first when Sylvain Distin clearly handled the ball, and the second when Lukas Jutkiewicz was pulled back. Sturrock said: "Sometimes Lady Luck shines on you; sometimes she doesn't. A couple of weeks ago we got a dubious penalty at Home Park, and I'm a great believer that it levels itself out. Some weeks, it will be given, but we had a referee who decided not to give it today. Yes, we are disappointed, but it doesn't mean to say we would have scored. It would have been nice to have taken them back to Plymouth but I'm not going to cry over it. It happens. Some weeks you get them, some weeks you don't - this week, we didn't get it. Hopefully, as the weeks go by, we will get one or two that will go our way."
Argyle lost 2-1 at Portsmouth in the FA Cup fourth round, the goal scored by Chris Clark after 5 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Doumbe, Sawyer, Clark, Nalis, Norris, Halmosi, Fallon, Easter. Subs – Jutkiewicz, Folly (not used – Larrieu, Summerfield, Hodges). Attendance - 19,612
Chris Clark will make his debut for Argyle at Portsmouth today, but it is not clear which role he will be given. Paul Sturrock said: "The boy Clark is right up to game speed and I will say one thing - he will start the game. I watched him in training on Thursday and he looks very comfortable with both feet. It looks as though he could play several positions for us. He gives me lots of options, but I brought him here to be very competitive for one of the width positions." With Steve MacLean cup-tied, Jermaine Easter is expected to be recalled to lead the attack with Rory Fallon. Fallon scored Argyle's equaliser against Southampton last week, and Sturrock said: "Rory has set a standard now that he has to be close to on a regular occurrence. He set that standard in the second half last Saturday, and that is achievable for Rory. We played a very competent side and, in the end, he has come out of it with a reasonable performance. Now he knows that's in him. The problem he has got with having me as his manager is that I better get it as close as possible on a regular occurrence, or he will know all about it." Argyle have sold all their allocation of 3,200 tickets and Sturrock is determined that his team should put in a performance the fans can be proud of. "We are not going there just to make the numbers up. The important thing is we play to win every football game," he said. "It will be a very difficult game, there is no getting away from that, but the pressure is off us. We are going there as so-called underdogs so we have got nothing to lose. We can go there and play in an open frame of mind." Argyle have another away game on Tuesday at Ipswich Town and that will be a consideration for Sturrock when he picks his starting line-up today. He added: "Whatever team I put out I'm not going to tarnish this cup tie in any way. I will be putting a team out that I think can compete and win the football game. But sometimes you have to use the squad properly when you have two away games as tight together as we have."
Gary Sawyer has experienced a lot of FA Cup drama in his career so far, helping Argyle reach the quarter-finals last season, and playing in two third-round games against Manchester United for Exeter City two years ago. "The FA Cup is massive for any English player," he said. "You can feel the passion, and nobody wants to lose an FA Cup game. It's a magic feeling to be drawn against a big team." Sawyer believes Argyle will go to Fratton Park without fear. "A good result is not out of the question," he added. "They're only one division above us. We're not going to go there and let them play. We're going to give it a right go, and see what happens." Argyle went to West Ham United in the Carling Cup in September - and lost out only to a last-minute goal by Dean Ashton. Sawyer said: "It was a great day at West Ham, and it was only one bit of brilliance that beat us. That's the trouble with the Premier teams, though, they do have the players who can do something like that." Sawyer has started Argyle’s last two games, playing in central defence at Burnley, before reverting to left-back at home to Southampton a week ago. "It's always better to have a couple of strings to your bow," he said. "I can give a lot more value to the side by being able to play in a couple of positions. I just need to work on both, and keep going."
It has been more than a year since Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi arrived at Home Park, and both are hoping for a repeat of last season's run to the FA Cup quarter-finals. Timar said: "We very much enjoyed last year when we played against Derby County and Watford. It was two big games and now we are looking forward to this weekend. We have got a chance and, hopefully, we can win the game." The pair have adapted to life in England very quickly - an admirable feat for Halmosi, who did not speak a word of English a year ago. He said: "My English is getting better. In the past it was very difficult for me, but never on the pitch. It was more difficult in the changing room to speak with the lads. I understand everything on the pitch. Football is the same language everywhere. I have learned a lot about English football. Coming here has been good for me because I like to cross the ball. I am now trying to learn more and more." Timar and Halmosi were signed by Ian Holloway, who has since been replaced by Paul Sturrock. Timar added: "Managers coming and going is just football. We do our job. We play football. Hopefully, we can go back into the top six places and win a few games. Hopefully, the new guys will get used to our habits and we will be a good team." Argyle will be helped by the arrival of Gyorgy Sandor, and Halmosi added: "I have never played with him for the national team but we have been in the squad together. He is a very similar player to Akos Buzsaky. Akos is maybe more skilful but Gyorgy is very technical with the ball. He is a good passer and works very hard in the midfield. Timar said: "It is easier to have two or three Hungarians here. Not so much on the pitch, but definitely with life outside football. We have helped each other and there are lots of things we have learned that we can help Gyorgy with. When we came here, Akos helped us and made it easier for us."
Paul Sturrock has some selection decisions to make for the trip to face Portsmouth in the FA Cup. Marcel Seip faces a late fitness test and Sturrock is considering handing full debuts to some of his new signings. "Seip is going to need a late fitness test for this one," he said. "He has got a groin problem. We have got two games in three days and it is highly important that we have the legs for both games. The traveling is quite ferocious as well, so I am going to have to think about it. We want to go as far as we can in the cup but we are also appreciative of how difficult a game Ipswich is going to be with the form they have been in. I have got to also weigh up whether this is the right time to bring in some of the new signings and give them some much needed game-time. There is a lot for me to mull over in my mind before Saturday's game." Portsmouth are missing four key players for due to the African Cup of Nations, but they Sturrock added: "They won 3-1 last Saturday with a whole load of players missing through international call-ups but we are not going there just to make the numbers up. We play to win every football game. It will be a very difficult game - there is no getting away from that. The pressure is off us. We go there as underdogs and with nothing to lose, and an open frame of mind. It is great to see 3,000 Plymouth fans backing us all the way. I am not going to tarnish this competition in any way. I will put out a team that I think can win this game."
David Norris will be in Argyle's squad at Portsmouth tomorrow and Paul Sturrock insisted he was 'very confident' that Norris would still be playing for Argyle after the transfer window closes next Thursday. Sturrock said: "David Norris will be in the squad for Saturday. He's a professional man and he's paid a wage by Plymouth Argyle. I know Chuck and he always performs to the best of ability. I don't expect anything different from him - and I know it won't be." Asked whether he thought Norris would be at Home Park after the transfer window closes, Sturrock replied: "Unless something dramatically changes, I'm very confident he will still be a Plymouth Argyle player."
Paul Sturrock was delighted to complete the transfers of two players of a very different type yesterday. He said: "We have acquired the services of two new players. One called Gyorgy Sandor and Jamie Mackie from Exeter. They are two different types of players and I am looking forward to working with them." Sandor’s arrival was delayed because of a knee problem but Sturrock has been reassured by the results of a scan. He said: "The timeframe with Sandor has taken a bit longer because he has a knee injury at this moment in time. I had to weigh up whether I should do this deal because of the injury. After a scan and knowing the standard of the player, I did not want to lose out because there were other clubs on the horizon. He is in rehab and I am assured that he will perform before the end of the season, and I am obviously looking forward to seeing him play. He is going to have the hard task of getting back to fitness and breaking into the team at the backend of the season, so he is going to have to impress and adapt very quickly. I saw him play three years ago in an Under 21 match between Scotland and Hungary at Livingston He plays in the centre, supporting the front two and has a passing range. He has played wide right in the past but he looks like he wants to be creating around the box." Sturrock was pleased to finally land his ‘development player’ in Mackie. He added: "Jamie is one I have watched several times and he can play wide-right, wide-left and centre-forward. He played against us at the start of last season and I watched the Conference Play-Off Final and, although they lost, he was a real handful. If you ask him he is going to play in the first-team straightaway. If you ask me, he is a signing that will progress and charge into the first-team sooner or later. He is one of those players I call development players. He is a confident lad and has definite attributes that will benefit the team, and he wants to learn. He has added goals this season, which probably would have been against him as far as signing here if this had happened last season. He has added a goal threat that he maybe didn't have before." Mackie seems to fit the bill for some of Sturrock’s most successful signings in his first stint at Home Park. He said: "If you look at the players I have brought here before - Capaldi's, Gilbert's, Norris's - they all progressed for the team and gave us very good service. I am not finished and I would like to bring one or two more of that kind of standard. I have got offers out at several clubs and I am waiting for word back. The Gosling deal was one I could not refuse. He is 17 years-old and who knows what could happen - he could have fallen over. To be offered money for Hayles at his age was another one we could not refuse. The one for Ebanks-Blake was taken out of our hands. The clause was something I did not even know about until it hit me in the face. The important thing is to replace these players. That is not so easy because, if you do it too quickly, you can make the wrong decisions."
Gyorgy Sandor's arrival at Home Park has restored Argyle's Hungarian contingent to three, but a slight knee problem will delay his debut for the club. Sandor said: "I am very happy to be here and sign for Plymouth Argyle. I want to play as quickly as possible but the doctors said not to rush, be healthy and play when you are 100% ready. I got injured in a friendly match for Ujpest." Sandor has played against Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar many times and alongside Halmosi in the Hungarian national team. He added: "They have helped me with so many things and shown me the rules. I have played against them many times. Krisztian has tried to kill me many times. Peter and Krisztian are very good players. I have played with Peter for the national team."
Jamie Mackie finally became an Argyle player yesterday after weeks of negotiation. "I am absolutely delighted to sign for Plymouth," he said. "It has gone on a lot time. I knew about the interest a while ago and I am so grateful for the chance to be here. I want to improve, get my head down and get in the team. I respect the rivalry is there but Plymouth are in the Championship and I am ambitious. As soon as I knew there might be a chance of me playing for Plymouth, it was all I wanted. All I saw was that Plymouth are a Championship and not that they are Exeter's rivals. Exeter gave me the chance to improve my game and I am grateful to everyone for the help they have given me." Mackie will have to wait for his debut because he is cup-tie, and added: "I have already played in the FA Cup, so I am cup-tied. I will get some work done this weekend while the lads are travelling and be ready for the next game. I can't wait. I know I have got to improve my game and that is why I am here. Everyone wants to be in the first-team and I want to show people what I am about. At this level there is going to be competition for places but I want to work with those players and learn from them." The Championship will be the place where Mackie will be looking to impress. He last played at this level with Wimbledon as a 19 year-old in 2004. He said: "I was put in the first-team at Wimbledon very young. I have had to take a few steps backwards before getting where I want to be and this is where I want to be. It was the right time to move on. Ever since I got to Exeter, I have said I wanted to move back to this level."
Paul Sturrock is not pursuing his interest in the three French trialists who have been training with Argyle for the past week. Ted Lavie, Aime Lavie, and Mamadou Diakite, all played in the reserves win at Truro on Tuesday, and Sturrock said afterwards: "I felt they were no better than the standard we had here already. I thought the right-back looked comfortable but, not being derogatory to the opposition, I have got to make an assessment on how I feel they would compete in this league."
Romain Larrieu will be out of action for a couple of months as has discovered a small growth in his abdomen which needs treatment. Paul Sturrock was keen to point out that it is a virtual certainty the condition will be sorted out with treatment, and Romain will be involved in the squad for Saturday's trip to Portsmouth. Sturrock said: "Romain has a slight growth in his abdomen. It is 99.9% sure that it will be rectified with treatment but it does set him back as far as the next six to eight weeks. We are very hopeful that, with the way the treatment will be done, he will be out performing for us by the end of the season. It puts football into perspective when things like this happen but there is no danger to his life in any way. It will be sorted and he will be as good as new. He will be involved on Saturday because there is still a debate to be had on when his treatment will start. He will have the appropriate treatment to make him better."
Gyorgy Sandor completed his move to Argyle today, joining the club until the end of the season, when both parties will review their options. Paul Sturrock said: "He's a full Hungarian international and we're pleased to have him. I'm looking forward to working with him. He's a central midfielder first and foremost, but can also play on either side. Gyorgy and the others we have brought in are quality players. It's that type of player we are attracting to the club now, international players." Gyorgy joins compatriots Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi at Home Park, and Sturrock added: "He'll have to adapt, of course, and it took Peter a while to adapt to the way the game is played here. But I think he'll benefit from the two others being here. He speaks really good English, and understands it, as well, so that's not going to be a stumbling block." The loan deal which has brought Sandor to Argyle is thought to include a clause which will allow Argyle to purchase the player in the summer for a fee of around £300,000
Jamie Mackie today joined Argyle from Exeter City for an initial fee of £145,000, which could increase dependent on appearances
Mike Pejic believes Argyle are reaping the rewards of the revamped youth programme and that his side's win at Fratton Park on Tuesday vindicates the decision ahead of the season that the youth team should compete only against teams in their own age categories. He said: "It was a fine victory up at Portsmouth and well deserved. But it was no more than I'd expected, because they have been playing very well lately. There's a renewed sense of confidence about the lads which we believe is a result of playing against players in their own age group - instead of having to compete against men as they had been asked to do before. It's even more impressive they did it at Fratton Park, and didn't look out of place there. The lads out-thought Portsmouth and went two-up and at that stage were cruising. Although we conceded a sloppy goal from a badly defended throw-in, we can take many positives from the result. From a coach's point of view, it was satisfying that the lads are now playing with confidence in both their own abilities and what we've asked them to do. It's good in terms of their own careers, because they are all playing for a professional contract with this football club. And, of course, they have the chance of getting through to the last eight of the FA Youth Cup." Argyle will play Birmingham City at Home Park in the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup, the tie will take place on January 28th at 7pm
Argyle beat Portsmouth 2-1 in last nights FA Youth Cup tie at Fratton Park, the goals scored by Jarred Stevens and Damian McCrory. Argyle: Saxton, Hopkinson, Brett, Moseley, Hodgkinson, White, Mason, McCaul, Stevens, Barnes, McCrory. Subs not used - Edwards, Misiewicz, Grant, Gerring, Davis. Attendance - 412
Argyle won last nights friendly at Truro City 6-0, the goals scored by Lukas Jutkiewicz (4), Dan Smith and Chris Clark. Argyle's starting line-up included three trialists - brothers Aime and Ted Lavie and Mamadou Diakite. Ted Lavie, a 21-year-old from Bordeaux, played at right-back while Aime, 23 from Sochaux, was in central-defence. Diakite, 22, from Metz, played in midfield. All three have been training with Argyle since last Thursday. Argyle: Chenoweth, Lavie.T, Moult, Lavie.A, Watts, Abdou, Folly, Diakite, Clark, Smith, Jutkiewicz. Subs - King, Leonard, Duggan, Moody
Argyle have had a third offer for Jamie Mackie rejected by Exeter City. The latest bid was for £125,000, but Exeter are thought to be holding out for £150,000
Dan Smith is set to complete a loan move to Weymouth later this week
Argyle's bid to bring Gyorgy Sandor to Home Park has hit a snag due to an injury problem. Reports suggest the move has been held up while Argyle investigate further an injury Sandor is carrying
Hungarian international midfielder Gyorgy Sandor is thought to be close to completing a move to Argyle. His club Ujpest and Hungarian media have reported that the clubs have agreed terms for a move to Home Park
Argyle have confirmed that they have received a written request for a transfer from David Norris, and that after due consideration, the request has been refused by the club
Argyle will play a friendly at Truro City tonight, kick-off at 7.45. Three French trialists will play in the game, one of them being Bordeaux midfielder Ted Lavie but the identity of the other two has not been disclosed. The Argyle team will also include Chris Clark, Yoann Folly, Lukas Jutkiewicz, Nadjim Abdou and Lee Hodges
The Argyle squad joined naval footballers on board HMS Albion at Devonport Dockyard yesterday, as they continued the build-up to Saturday's 'battle of the ports' FA Cup clash with Portsmouth. Both sides engaged in a 'keepy-uppy' competition, ahead of tomorrow's friendly aboard HMS Ark Royal between a naval team and an Argyle XI. That match will see HMS Albion in the Argyle strip, while HMS Ark Royal’s team will wear the Portsmouth strip. Lee Hodges said: "We've just come down to have a look around HMS Albion and meet everyone, it's nice of them to invite us down here. I was on HMS Argyll a few years ago and we had a good look around that, but you forget how big these ships actually are, they are enormous." With the fourth round game approaching, Hodges shared his thoughts for the match: "We're going to play a Premiership team and that's what we always aspire to do,” he said. "We'll be going there to give it everything to get a win." When asked if the Argyle players are feeling any added pressure, Hodges replied: "I don't think there's any added pressure at all, I think all the pressure is on Portsmouth."
Steven MacLean is counting down the days until Argyle's next Championship match, the visit to Ipswich Town on January 29th, as he is cup-tied. He said: "I'm looking forward to getting on the training pitch this week and working hard. Obviously, I can't play on Saturday because I'm cup-tied but, hopefully, we can go to Ipswich and ruin their unbeaten home record. I'm sure the gaffer will have some hard-running sessions for me this week. I will probably go and see the family at the weekend and try to get a house sorted out down here. Then, hopefully, I will come back and be involved at Ipswich and turn them over." MacLean only completed his move from Cardiff on Friday, which meant his preparation for the game against Southampton was limited to say the least. He said: "I trained for 15 minutes on Friday but I had to leave the session so I could sign in time. That was me. I was thrown in at the deep end but I really enjoyed it. To be fair, I was struggling to know the names of my team-mates, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the season now. I haven't been playing much lately so it was nice to get out there. I thought we were outstanding for a period in the second half and probably should have capitalised on that, but it was promising. I think you could see with the changes that George Burley made that he was happy with a point. That's football. Sometimes you win games when you don't play well and sometimes you deserve to win and you don't. But we will take a bit of confidence from it." While MacLean was making his debut for Argyle, it was Rory Fallon's first start since Sturrock took over as manager. MacLean added: "I thought the big man did well. He took his goal really well and I was just trying to play off him at times. There were good partnerships all over the pitch and, especially in the second half, I thought we did really well."
Scott Laird is set to complete a permanent transfer to Stevenage Borough, with whom he has been on loan since the start of January
Marcel Seip is an injury doubt for the FA Cup tie at Portsmouth on Saturday, and is receiving treatment for a groin problem. Paul Sturrock said: "Seip has got a strain and I will no take no chances on him. He will have to convince that he's totally fit for Saturday. The important thing is that we have his services for the long-term of the season, not the short-term. Marcel will be given every opportunity for Saturday - I'm not going to burn my boats. He has been playing with this tightness in his groin for the last three weeks but, if push comes to shove, I will not be forced down the road of playing him."
Rory Fallon admitted the pace of Championship football took his breath away on his return to first team duty for Argyle on Saturday. He said: "We did a lot of running last week and it stood me in good stead. I got through the 90 minutes and it felt really good because you can't recreate that in training or in the reserves. The pace at the start of the game was unbelievable." Fallon has made a total of 32 appearances for Argyle, but only 10 of them have been starts. He said: "I need a few games. I don't feel I have really been given that chance, but I'm not holding that against anyone. A lot of it was to do with me."
Ashley Barnes has been drafted into the Argyle squad for their FA Youth Cup tie at Portsmouth tonight. Mike Pejic said: "Ashley is an instinctive player and he's a goalscorer. There is a bit of pace and strength about him so he has got one or two good attributes there already. He can be selfish, which is again what you need, and he does the unexpected." Pejic added: "The only negative thing is that we have lost Gosling, who was our captain and centre midfielder."
Luke McCormick is only be 24, but is the joint third longest serving player on Argyle's books. McCormick has seen many things during his time at the club, and is excited about the prospects for the rest of the season. He said: "It should be an exciting time. New players are coming in with a hunger and freshness about them. When players leave, it opens the door for others and with that comes a bit of added responsibility to the ones that I have come in and those that have been playing. I am enjoying the responsibility. I am not sure where I stand in the longest serving player list, but I know I am still enjoying it." McCormick has regained the goalkeeping jersey for the last three matches, and said: "I have been quite pleased with the way I have played since the Hull match. We could possibly have made a bit more out of the results with one win, one draw and a defeat. We were unfortunate in the first half against Southampton. There was the goal-line scramble and we just needed the ball to fall to one of our lads. We had some good chances and, in fairness, their 'keeper was the best player on the pitch. He made some good saves and I was rarely troubled." Rory Fallon scored the equalizer against Southampton, and McCormick was delighted for the striker, who has had limited opportunities in his 12 months at Home Park. He said: "I was really chuffed for Rory because he has been waiting a long time for an opportunity and one came along on Saturday, and he did everything that was asked of him. He held it up, won his headers and got himself on the score-sheet. I hope he can use that as a base and build on it." Next up for Argyle is an FA Cup trip to Portsmouth. Argyle’s FA Cup dream ended at the hands of Watford at Home Park last year, but McCormick expects Portsmouth to be a very different proposition. He said: "It will be a great day for players, fans, everybody who is going up there. For the players it is a good chance to test ourselves. It will be very different to what we came up against with Watford. Portsmouth are eighth in the league and going really well, and it is away from home. These games don't come around often, so you just enjoy it and you never know - we might just come away with a smile on our face."
Paul Sturrock was pleased with his players' response to last Saturday's defeat at Burnley, and a hugely improved performance in the draw with Southampton. He said: "I felt Monday was my start and I think we just shaded it today and the three points would have been pleasing for everybody. The pleasing thing for me was the response of the players to what we have worked so hard to do this week. We had a higher tempo and harder work in training with more emphasis on the game. We want to be a crossing team and we got an awful lot more crosses in the box than we have for a long time." Sturrock will be hoping to build on that progress with ten days before the next league game at Ipswich Town."We have got almost two weeks before our next league game, so we can work on it more," he said. "There is obviously an important cup-tie in that ten days but we will have time to work on certain things. I had a brand new strike-force today, which is going to take time to blend and I have not finished as far as bringing people to the football club. Steve MacLean showed what he can do. He has got great touch and can link people up. He is penalty-box predator and he claimed he got fouled for one that he should have put in the net in the first half. You can see he is there or thereabouts." Argyle’s positive start went wrong when Bradley Wright-Phillips put Southampton ahead after breaking clear of the Argyle defence. Sturrock added: said: "He is a clinical finisher and we got punished for that. He has run from the halfway line, through our back four when the ball was 15 yards from our back four. You have got to go back and let them play in front of you, not let them penetrate. It was a difficult first half. After the disappointment of last week, we were trying to kick-start ourselves and get a rhythm. We definitely flowed in the second half and for 35 minutes I was very pleased. After the draining of confidence from last Saturday, it would have been very easy for us to capitulate after going 1-0 behind. I was very pleased with the attitude of the players and the response I got. I don't think Luke really had a save to make after the goal and their goalie has made one or two good saves. We looked much better and people understood what I was trying to get across all week. All we need now is to bring one or two others in as quickly as possibly, so it enables me to get working with them to understand what we are trying to achieve."
Rory Fallon scored Argyle's equalizer in the draw with Southampton on Saturday, in a game which was near enough the last chance for him as an Argyle player after Paul Sturrock subjected him to some harsh words in the week. Sturrock said: "He had to respond properly because there is much more that boy can achieve in the game. It annoys me to see the standard he was at when I arrived. I gave Rory a hard time through the week with a lot of harsh words. I don't think he has even come close in his career to what he should have done. I think harsh words were needed for him to realise that, if he is going to have any future at this club, there are certain things I needed to see. He responded properly, but I still think there is a lot more work for him to do to get it right. He got the goal and, hopefully, that will give him the confidence to kick on. A lot of people say you need a big boy up front. Most teams have got a big boy and a wee boy up front; one with height and one with pace or guile. We have run with small centre-forwards for quite some time here. Going out there and grabbing a big centre-forward is very difficult because everybody wants one. I did not feel his whole outlook on being a professional footballer was focused enough on his game. He is a big, good looking lad and I did not feel he was concentrated on playing in the team. I did not think it hurt him enough not being in the team. He was pre-warned today and now he has made a stick for his back with the standards he has achieved today."
Exeter City are holding out for a price of £150,000 for Jamie Mackie, who has put in a transfer request and made it clear he wants to move to Home Park. Argyle are believed to have made an initial offer of £70,000 and then increased it to £90,000. Mackie, who was left out of Exeter's squad to play Oxford last night, said: "It's time for me to move on. I'm aware of the bids from Plymouth and I'm excited about the bids from Plymouth. I want to go and play for them. I handed in the transfer request to make my position clear and, hopefully, something can be sorted out between the clubs. Once the opportunity to play Championship football came along, that was it. I have done everything I can for Exeter City and it's time for me to move on. Nobody will deny me that opportunity. It's in the hands of Exeter and Plymouth and I'm just waiting for them to agree the right fee. I think everyone agrees it's the right thing for me and that I deserve the chance to make the step up. It's just that Exeter are trying to get the best deal they can."
Argyle have been strongly linked with Oldham Athletic centre-back Neal Trotman, and are thought to have offered to pay an initial £350,000, increasing to a maximum of £500,000 based on appearances
Michael Dunford wrote about Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's transfer to Wolves in the matchday programme on Saturday, and revealed that Manchester United pocketed around £250,000 from the sale due to a sell-on clause. This is in addition to the two instalments of £50,000 based on appearances already paid by Argyle. He also confirmed that the £1.5m release clause in Ebanks-Blake’s contract did not come into force until January 1st, 2008, and that the day afterwards they received a bid for him from Wolves. Dunford said: "If somebody had said to us at the time that we would make £1m on a player within 18 months, everybody would have done somersaults. It makes sound business sense and we would have been foolish not to do the deal. This is the reality of our situation. Plymouth is not the most attractive proposition geographically. Sylvan came down and loved it here, but we know for a fact that his agents were touting his name to other clubs back in June to see if any of them would be interested in buying Sylvan in this window. Wolves put in a written transfer request and asked for permission to speak to the player. We believe Sylvan has gone to Wolves on a significant contract and good luck to him. Nobody wanted to lose Sylvan. We offered to extend his contract and even buy out that clause, but he was intent on joining Wolves. When you take into account what we paid for him and Manchester United's sell-on clause, we have still pocketed over £1m profit. That money will be reinvested back in to support Paul Sturrock's team building plans. It is part of the cycle of football - there will be new heroes for the Green Army. Sylvan moves on and, more importantly, so do Argyle."
Rory Fallon is a believer, and now wants people to believe in him. Fallon, a devout Christian, put his first Home Park goal down to a maturing relationship with God. He said: "I am a Christian, and I feel I have not fulfilled my potential because I back-slided away from my faith. There was typical footballer's stuff - women and drinking. It has been a journey for me and my head has never been clear." However, now that he feels settled in himself, perhaps ironically, Paul Sturrock is prepared to let him go, and a move to Southend United was recently mooted. "I could have gone to Southend or other clubs," he said, "but I am happy here and it has been a long time since I have been happy in a place. God has got me through this period. I just felt that he wanted me to stay in Plymouth. I believe he wants me here for the time being. It is not just the football. I have started helping out underprivileged kids and so on." Fallon knows that his future at Argyle depends on him impressing Sturrock, and he is ready to roll up his sleeves and do just that. "He had a word with me and said I had not really fulfilled my potential - and that is true," said Fallon. "I have got to keep working hard and doing what is asked of me. All I need is the gaffer to believe in me and I can do better. I have still got more to go and that comes with games. People say I did well today but, personally, I feel I could have done better. But I am going to enjoy it and I am happy with taking my goal because it was the only real chance I had. It was a great ball from Peter. I just pulled back and was praying that he was going to find me. It came up nice and I didn't strike it too hard. I had a couple of half-chances when things got knocked off my feet and I am just glad I took that chance. I thought we created more chances and could have sneaked a win - it just wasn't to be. It is disappointing but, on the other hand, we battled well and we did create the chances. We just didn't have that extra bit of luck at the end." Fallon reckoned he and Steve MacLean grew in understanding as the game progressed. "We didn't train together yesterday and it was tough at the start," he said. "I have played against him loads of times and he is a good lad. For me, as long as he is a good lad, I can work with him fine. We have got a lot of good strikers fighting for places and our pairing was a bit of a shock, especially when I have been out for so long. I felt I deserved it. I have worked hard in training and kept my head down throughout the time I have been out."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Southampton at Home Park, the goal scored by Rory Fallon after 49 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Sawyer, Martin, Norris, Summerfield, Nalis, Halmosi, Fallon, MacLean. Subs – Folly (not used – Easter, Jutkiewicz, Hodges, Clark). Attendance - 14,676
Paul Sturrock has refused to confirm or deny speculation that David Norris has put in a transfer request
Paul Sturrock yesterday welcomed Steven MacLean to the club. He said: "He is course and distance, and we are obviously very, very pleased. In this day and age it is very difficult to pick up proven goalscorers and, if you look at his record, he has scored at every standard he has played. We needed a goalscorer, somebody who sniffs around the box and there will be a good fight for penalties with a couple of the others. He fits the bill for the type of player we are trying to bring to the club." Before Cardiff, MacLean had an excellent spell with Sheffield Wednesday, and Sturrock added: "He was very impressive for Sheffield Wednesday last season. He came back from injury with two other strikers performing regularly and doing quite well, but he still managed to chip in with 13 goals from 22 starts, which was only equalled by one of those strikers, who played 43 games." Sturrock hinted that there would be more signings before the deadline day on January 31st. He said: "This is the first of several signings of this type. That does not finish me up front. There are also other areas I am very much hoping to strengthen or double-up on. We have got 13 days before deadline day."
Steve MacLean joined Argyle with the uncomplicated wish to play regularly and score goals. "I have come here to play regularly, do well for Plymouth and score some goals," he said. "I am very excited. I have heard about the fans down here and their passion. Hopefully, I can do well for them and the team. Once Cardiff had agreed a fee with Plymouth, Dave Jones phoned me and asked whether I wanted to speak to Plymouth and my old manager. As soon as I spoke to the Gaffer, I had no qualms about coming down to Plymouth. I am chomping at the bit to play." One person not so pleased about the arrival of Argyle's new number nine was Steve's son, who was settled in Cardiff. MacLean said: "I have got a young family and my little boy wasn't too happy, but he will come round. All he wants now is a Plymouth kit and to know what number I will be. My little boy will be happy." MacLean is familiar with his new team-mates after coming on as a substitute for Cardiff in their win over Argyle on New Year's Day, and he added: "I played against Plymouth and probably should have scored that day. I have played down here before, so I know what it is all about. I went to Cardiff to play games and it was frustrating not to be on the pitch every week and scoring goals. I didn't do that at Cardiff and, hopefully, this is a chance for me to get back on the road and help Plymouth push up the league."
Argyle have today signed striker Steven MacLean for a club-record fee of £500,000 from Cardiff City. MacLean has signed a three-and-a-half year deal and will go into the squad for tomorrow's game with Southampton
Jim Magilton has confirmed he has made another bid for David Norris, and Norris is rumoured to have put in a transfer request. Magilton said: "We see David Norris as a player that can make a big different to us. We are determined to get him and have gone back with a very good improved offer last night. The transfer window does hijack prices and causes its own problems but it is there and it is something that we have to deal with."
Chris Clark has revealed how he was recommended to move to Argyle by Stevie Crawford. He said: "Stevie came to Aberdeen after his spell here and he told me he had enjoyed his time. He had to return to Scotland for personal reasons but he was full of praise about the club." Clark has also done his homework on Paul Sturrock, and added: "I have never come across him before, but I have spoken to a lot of players who have. They have enjoyed their spells with him - especially the training and the way they play their football." Clark decided to move to England even though his wife, Julie, is pregnant with their first child. He said: "It couldn't be any further away but I'm looking forward to it. It was a hard decision, obviously with the distance involved, but it's just something you have got to work around. I will put that aside and just concentrate on getting settled. My wife is due to give birth to our first child at the beginning of February so it's difficult to leave her behind, and I will have to get back home for then, but I'm just looking forward to the few weeks ahead. She gave me the support to come down here and have a look, and she's looking forward to coming down and joining me as well." Clark left behind a club who are fourth in the SPL, in the CIS Insurance Cup semi-finals and the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. He said: "I had been at Aberdeen a long time - 10 years - and I wanted to try England. I think if I hadn't done it now I never would of. Luckily enough, I got the opportunity to come here and I'm really looking forward to joining up with the squad. Over the past three years, I have played the majority of the games in centre midfield, and at times in a defensive role - man marking - rather than attacking. But a lot of times I have been used on the wing as well, and at full-back. I have always played over the past three years and I think my versatility has helped me develop as a player. It just gives you experience in every position if you can slot in, and as long as you are playing you are happy." Clark admitted playing in England would provide a new challenge for him, with new clubs and new players to test himself against. He said: "That was a big part of it for me. In Scotland you can play some teams three or four times in a season and if you draw them in the cup it can become four or five. I needed a change from coming up against the same players in the same stadiums. You look at the games I could play in here - we have got Portsmouth in the FA Cup and, obviously, Southampton tomorrow. It's going to be refreshing for me and I'm looking forward to that. I have got my friends and family in Aberdeen and I was playing all the time, but I was prepared to come here and fight for a place and, hopefully, do well for the team."
Paul Sturrock has admitted Argyle have a pressing need for new strikers after another injury setback for Nick Chadwick. Chadwick is to have a cartilage operation, which will rule him out for four to six weeks. Sturrock said: "We have had bad news about Chadwick. He tweaked a cartilage in the reserve game the other day. He's going to get it operated on and he will be out for four to six weeks. It seems that every time he makes a comeback he gets something else. Sometimes that happens to players but I'm hopeful, sooner or later, he will get a break." Sturrock has several areas of the squad he wants to strengthen, but strikers are a priority for him. He said: "I feel there are different types of forwards we have to bring to the football club. We are very novicey at that position. Easter and Fallon have not been regular Championship players and, obviously, Lukas is a development player. Those are our three strikers at this minute in time so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to appreciate that we need one or two added to that position, but they are not easy to find." Sturrock also wants to increase his defensive options, and while he refuses to comment on what he describes as transfer speculation, he admitted: "We have a lot of irons in the fire and we are slowly chipping away at all our lists. Kingy is away again this weekend going all over the place. He has been taking in near enough two games a day to try to see all the targets we have feelers out for. But it can't all be done in January. We have got to make sure we have got a squad ready and armed for the challenge of the rest of the season. That's important to me, and it would maybe take another two or three players. But the long-term is that any other targets we have would come in the close season, which would enable us to really strengthen ourselves for a big push next season."
Chris Clark and Yoann Folly could make their home debuts for Argyle when they take on Southampton tomorrow. Argyle will also be boosted tomorrow by the return of David Norris, and Mathias Doumbe and Krisztian Timar are both fully fit. Paul Sturrock said: "Both have trained this week with no reaction." Southampton are two points behind Argyle going into tomorrow's game, and Sturrock said: "It's a difficult game because we have come off a disappointing result. I do feel that we let ourselves down last week and we have got to get back on the rails again. We have got to be positive in our approach, if we can, from the first whistle. Southampton have benefited from a settled team lately and have had some very good results away from home. They are a dangerous side if you give them room and time." Sturrock insisted he was only interested in three points tomorrow, and it did not matter to him who the opposition were. He said: "It was me that decided to move on from Southampton, as I have mentioned in the past. I had a great time there and they are really nice people, but there are very few of the players left there. It's not the same club."
Bordeaux midfielder Ted Lavie is one of three French trialists currently training with Argyle. Paul Sturrock said: "We have got three trialists here, and that's all they are. I wouldn't be signing any of them until I have seen them play. We are trying to get a game arranged for next week, but it's difficult with the FA Youth Cup tie also taking place. But we are hopeful that if we can get enough trialists in we can make a team up so that we can have a look at them."
Argyle are close to completing the signing of Cardiff City striker Steven MacLean, according to reports. Argyle are also thought to have made two unsuccessful offers for MacLean’s team-mate Steven Thompson
Exeter City have rejected Argyle’s second bid for Jamie Mackie. Their director of football, Steve Perryman, said: "We have turned down the latest Plymouth Argyle offer. The offer was not good enough and we rejected it. Financially we do not need to sell him. He currently has two values to City - one is a transfer fee at this moment and nobody has offered what we value him at. The second value is him continuing to play as he is and getting us to the play-offs and maybe Wembley again. We don't expect teams to take that into consideration but we do. Plymouth's offer comes nowhere near taking into account either of those situations."
Dan Smith enjoyed his first taste of senior football at Burnley, and would like more opportunities to prove his worth. He said: "I'm hoping Paul Sturrock will give me a bit more of a chance now. He gave me six or seven minutes on Saturday, which was brilliant, but I'd like to play as often as possible." Asked when he found out he was going to be on the bench, Smith replied: "The manager told me in training last week that there could be a chance of me travelling, but I only found out I was likely to be on the bench when my mum read it in the paper and told me. The manager has said to us that the only way we're going to get into the first team is by playing well in reserve games and doing well in training. I've just been trying to do the best I can. It's been hard, when there haven't been many reserve games. We've had to keep our fitness up. We do quite a bit of running after training." The hard work paid off last weekend, and Smith added: "It was my debut, and I was over the moon with that. I thought I was going to be nervous, but I wasn't at all." In the closing moments at Burnley, Smith nearly had a chance to snatch a draw for Argyle. Peter Halmosi crossed from the left and Smith almost got his head to the ball but was beaten by David Unsworth. "I thought it was going to the back post," he said, "so I was waiting for that. Then it went front post. I tried to get there, but I was just a bit too late." Dan has been part of the Argyle set-up for eight years, and added: "I was ten when I went to Argyle's Centre of Excellence at Bodmin. I was there until I was 12, and then I went to the Centre at Ivybridge. Roger Reynolds was my coach, along with Mike Beckett. I went to the Centre of Excellence for a trial. John James picked me up, so that's how it happened." Paul Sturrock has likened Smith to David Norris, and feels he has the same sort of work-rate and appetite for the game. "The manager told me he didn't expect me to step into Chuck's shoes straight away," Smith said. "That's a big ask, because he's one of the best players at the club. But the other lads have told me what Chuck was like at the same sort of age, and what he worked on to become the player he is. They'll help me to get my full potential out of me." Smith realises that he may have to go elsewhere for a while to gain more first-team experience. He added: "The manager has said a little bit about sending me out on loan. They might want me to play at a lower level before he sticks me in his side, because it's a high standard to cope with straight away. We'll see what happens."
Chris Clark joined Argyle from Aberdeen for £200,000 today, and has signed a three-and-a-half year contract. Paul Sturrock said: "When I was at Plymouth before, I had a player called Jason Bent, and Chris is very much in the same mould. He can play in four or five positions, so obviously it's a great benefit to us that he comes with that great pedigree. He's played in the Scottish Premier League since he was 18 years old. He's a very experienced; he's quick; he's two-footed; and is desperate to achieve something in the game. He's had a long spell at Aberdeen; he really wants to do well; and he will kick on from a fresh start."
Having worked his way back into the Argyle first-team Luke Summerfield is determined to grasp his opportunity. He said: "Last year was a very progressive one for me. I got a load of games under my belt and it was a very enjoyable experience. This year has been a different scene for me, but I have not stopped working hard. I have to keep plugging away in training and try to keep my place in the team. It has been a tough couple of months for the club and since Christmas we have had a lot of outgoings and a few new lads in as well. It has been a tough time to come into the team but Hull was a good opportunity for me to stake my claim. It was the perfect time to show what I can do in an Argyle shirt. I have not had a lot of opportunities this season. I have only made four appearances this year, so it was very enjoyable to get a good 90 minutes under my belt." One aspect of his display against Hull was his willingness to shoot from distance when the opportunity arose, and he added: "As a midfielder, I want to get on the ball and make things happen for the team. Just like everybody, I want to score goals and I have no hesitation when it comes to having a shot. I am confident in my ability to shoot and score goals. I know I have to keep working hard at my game. I am a long way from being the perfect player and everything needs to improve. I have done a lot of work on my heading with Sloop as well as closing people down and tackling. I need to tidy up the defensive side of my game because you have to do it all in midfield. I will keep working on my strengths as well. You need to work on everything and, hopefully, become a better all-round player." With his father as assistant manager, Luke has extra advice on-hand whenever he needs it, but there is also a downside and Summerfield admitted it is not always easy working with family. "It has been hard for me," he said. "As soon as training starts, he is part of the staff. During training I respect him the same way I respect all the staff. Before and after training he is my Dad." Argyle slumped to a 1-0 loss at Burnley last weekend and Summerfield admitted it was one of those games where the team simply failed to perform. He said: "It was a totally different aspect from the Hull game, which was a proper FA Cup tie with goals and chances. Burnley was one of those games when nothing seemed to click for the team. We perhaps did not work as hard as we should have done but that game has gone now. As a player, a manager and a squad, it affects you more in the long-term if you dwell on bad performances for too long. You talk about what went wrong on a Monday morning and work on things. You think about your own personal performance and listen to what the staff have got to say, and then look forward to the next game. You have got to prepare your own team. We did not have the best game at Burnley, so we have to go in and work hard on what the staff see as the best way to beat Southampton. We are doing really well at the moment and there is no need for panic stations. We lost one game and we have to put that right on Saturday."
Paul Sturrock has admitted Argyle are still building up their new scouting system. He said: "Andy King has been a busy man. He has been taking in two games most days. It's very difficult to take over as a head scout at a football club when you haven't been a head scout before. He has to build up a dossier, so he's on catch up at this minute in time. It's easier for a man who has been a head scout when he moves somewhere else. He takes all his scouting system and everything else. We are having to build our new scouting system. I don't think we will reap the real benefits of Kingy for a good two or three months yet."
Southend United have not given up their pursuit of Rory Fallon, with their chairman Ron Martin believing the deal could be resurrected. He said: "We may still get him because, from our conversations, it seems he does not figure in Paul Sturrock's plans there, so something could still happen, but we shall have to see what happens."
Paul Sturrock has introduced a new 'high tempo' training regime at Argyle this week. He said: "I had a meeting with the players yesterday morning, where I made it plain what I want from them. We started it off on Monday with the training going back to how I want my team to play. The tempo will be a lot higher but it will be in short bursts." Sturrock revealed three players had been nursing 'sore legs' after a practice match at the start of the week. "A bit of kicking was done on Monday, thankfully," he said. "It was nice to see them tackling because not many of them tackled on Saturday. We took more knocks on Monday than we did on Saturday, but I will not cut down on the tempo and the tackling in the training. We will pick up more injuries but we get players up to the speed I want to play the game at. We ran a few of the players on Monday and, lo and behold, they were well off the pace of what I would expect from them. With the tempo we want to train at, we have got to have a fitness level to handle that. Through the tests that we are going to be doing, we will be able to decide whether they need more topping up or they are okay."
Argyle are thought to have made a second offer for Exeter City's Jamie Mackie. An £80,000 bid for the striker failed last week, but Argyle are reported to have increased their offer
Paul Sturrock is looking to bring in players who know the Championship and can handle playing at this level. He said: "I have to weigh up whether I bring in three or four players of course and distance to the club, which means I would obviously have less players to counteract the budget. That is basically the line I have gone down so far. We do need three players who have course and distance to this league or above. That obviously may take time because you are in negotiations with clubs, and there is the haggle over wages as well. There are a lot of things I would love to tell the fans but we are in contact with clubs near enough every minute of the day asking about the availability of players. I am not averse to spending the club's money but I will spend it, hopefully, shrewdly, wisely and in my own time." Saturday's defeat at Burnley has added further fuel to the fire and Sturrock fully understands the frustration of fans. He said: "The gut reaction after a disappointing defeat from fans, the chairman and directors is players, players, players please. That is the easy part. They have all got two legs, two arms and a head, but it is the standard that we have got to look at. We have got to weigh up the scenario of what is best for the club. I will not go out to League One and buy six or seven boys who fit neatly into the budget, but may not fit neatly into the Championship, to where we want to establish ourselves. It would be very easy for me, after Saturday, to race out on the market. Potentially it could happen if we agree personal terms and the transfer deals I am offering, that we could all of a sudden have an influx of players. I want to be judged in year's time for what Paul Sturrock's team does on the football pitch. I will not panic and waste all my money on people that are lesser players. I am not saying that we do not need to bring in squad players to this club because they are as invaluable as your top men, but that progression will go hand-in-hand with me bringing in the course and distance men."
Argyle’s re-rearranged reserve game against Cheltenham Town scheduled for tonight has been called off again due to a waterlogged pitch
Yoann Folly is sure he has not yet seen Argyle at their best. He said: "Plymouth were seventh in the League before the Burnley game, and you don't get there by accident. There are quality players here, and you do not worry about just one game." Folly was glad to move from South Yorkshire, and he added: "As soon as I found out that the move was being completed and Sheffield Wednesday were willing to let me go, I jumped in the car and I drove down to Plymouth last Thursday."
Peter Halmosi has been called up to Hungary squad for their friendly against Slovakia on February 6th
Paul Sturrock has revealed that no enquiries have been made about the availability of winger Peter Halmosi, despite newspaper reports. He said: "No. It is very frustrating and unsettles the player, getting him thinking about all sorts of things when we need him to be concentrating on the games." Argyle are in a very different situation when it comes to Rory Fallon, having been negotiating with Southend United over a possible move. However, given his current lack of options in the striking department, Sturrock is very reluctant to allow Fallon to leave at this time. He said: "It would have been very difficult for me to sanction that with the injuries and the lack of bodies we have got up front. They have been in negotiation with us about him but, at this junction, it would be illogical for me to be moving him on."
Dan Gosling today completed his move to Everton, for an initial £1million, which could rise to more than £2million depending on future appearances and international recognition. Paul Stapleton said: "To move to Everton at this time is a fantastic opportunity for a young man who potentially has the world at his feet. As a club, we simply couldn't stand in the way of allowing Dan the chance of following his dream, nor would we want to. He is a very nice young man and deserves his chance. I also know his family well, and we wish him and them all the best." Paul Sturrock added: "Opportunities like this do not come around often and no-one ought to blame Dan for grabbing it with both hands. Our supporters should be appreciative that Dan is going to Goodison with our blessing, and I hope they will join me in wishing him well. Dan is going to one of the country's top clubs, whose manager is placing a lot of faith in young British talent. If Dan works hard, listens to what he is taught, and is prepared to make sacrifices, everything is lying in front of him."
Luke McCormick is aware that Argyle cannot use the loss of key players as an excuse for a lowering of standards. After the defeat at Burnley he said: "We were extremely disappointed with the way we played. We know we're capable of so much more. We didn't play with any passion or pride, and that's the thing that hurts. We might be feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves, but that's no excuse. We weren't good enough, we know that. We can't make too many excuses about players who have left. We're all here to play. If an opportunity is given, we have to take it, and unfortunately we didn't do that." Asked how the squad reacted to the departure of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake McCormick replied: "We have to wish him well, but we have to think about ourselves as well. Sylvan's contribution was massive, particularly this season. He was a big player for us, but we have to put a lot of trust in the manager now. Quality goes out, quality comes in, and Paul Sturrock is good at finding that diamond in the rough." The defeat at Turf Moor was McCormick's first appearance in the Championship since early November, and he added: "I hadn't been sure all week and didn't find I was playing until just before the game, so was delighted to have the opportunity to play again. I'd like to play a lot more often, so every time I do get the nod I just have to go out and do the best I can."
Aberdeen right-back Michael Hart has chosen to sign for Preston North End instead of Argyle
Argyle’s FA Youth Cup tie at Portsmouth tomorrow night has been cancelled, due to the pitch being unplayable after recent bad weather. The game will now be played on January 22nd. Argyle’s reserve game at Cheltenham Town, which was originally cancelled because of the FA Youth Cup game, has therefore been re-instated, and will take place tomorrow night at 7pm
Paul Sturrock will go back on his word not to change Argyle’s style of play or training methods, and also warned that he will not tolerate any player who does not like his ideas. "Starting tomorrow, as I've warned the players, it's Paul Sturrock's way now - full fling," he said, after yesterdays defeat at Burnley. "It's either my way or the highway as far as a lot of them are concerned. I came here and vowed that I would not change things very quickly but there have been too many away games lately when we have not done the appropriate things to win games. I've allowed this club to roll on in the same vein as when I arrived. I'm now going to go down the road that we've been very successful with in the past. The gloves are off now as far as me not changing things and taking a back seat on a lot of things are concerned. I hope the players will appreciate now that things will change rapidly on the training-ground, and that a lot of them will grasp the nettle." Argyle faced Burnley without David Norris, Krisztian Timar and Mathias Doumbe, and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake joined Wolves on Thursday, but Sturrock said: "I would not allow them to use that as an excuse. I would not allow myself to use that as an excuse. It has been a disappointing week, but our players are stronger characters than that. At the end of the day, you look for a passion, and a will to win, which I didn't see today. We were not helped by injuries to key players. The back four has changed today and obviously Chuck's suspension doesn't help the cause. Today showed you we can't afford to have a lack of experienced players. Being a small squad, when you have injuries or suspensions, it affects you. We've taken a defeat, but it was the style of the defeat, of too many people playing not to lose, rather than to win? In the end, we got exactly what we deserved - nothing. Had we had that verve that we showed when we went to Watford, and at other places this season, we could have got more out of the game, but we sat and waited and waited. Burnley came out with a different game-plan to what we expected. We eventually matched up, but there were several players who never played anywhere near their standards that I would expect of them, and it really, really needs competition for places."
Paul Sturrock has a message for his players whose heads are being turned during the transfer-window – ‘prove you are worth what you think you are.’ He said: "It's been a tough week for everybody involved with the football club. It's been a huge disappointment with the way it's unfurled, and the uncertainty and unrest in this camp is now filtering on to the park. The January sales have really unsettled a lot of our players. I'm praying for the windows to close as soon as possible. I've listened from afar to certain opinions of my players and their thoughts of their worth, and I would like to think that their performances on the pitch would merit their comments off the pitch. We must get to the bottom of the unrest. The end of January will sort that out. I do honestly feel that, come the end of January, we will be a stronger squad for it because people will realise they have got to get on with it until the end of the season. Until then, there will be an ongoing unrest in the camp."
Paul Sturrock has promised to add quality and quantity to the Argyle squad, but will not be rushed or held to ransom. "I think I am going to be strengthening in several departments but I would like to say that I do not want to panic buy," he said. "It would be too easy, after a defeat like this, to get out there and grab just anybody. There has to be a game-plan to all this. The board and I had a six-hour meeting on Thursday, and I envisage having another lengthy one this week. It might take longer than a week - it might take even longer than the January sales - but I have got be a realist. There will be certain amount of cash for buying players and I want to take my time on this - to the extent that I am going to review some of the players that I've made a pitch for so far. I believe there is a sensibility about the football club and a sensibility and realism from the fans. I would be absolutely delighted if I was able to bring to-drawer players to this club but I think you have to be realistic and appreciate that this club will not be paying £10,000 a week for certain players. There is an area where we cut our cloth. There might be one or two we push the boat out for but we have got to keep a realism. We have a budget, and we have brought some very good players here without paying them £10,000 a week - these are the kind of wee nuggets that I have got to go out and find again. The search goes on. The problem with that is that it's so easy for people to scream and shout at me to bring in X, Y and Z - it's much harder than people realise. That's exasperating. I would love to bring in the players the fans name, but fans have to have a realisation of the situation we are in at this particular moment in time. As I think people have said all along, we have a very strong 13-14 players here and some up and coming youngsters but, when that 14 is dismantled for all sorts of reasons, we are going to struggle in this league. I realise there is a lack of body-count at the club. There are types of players I would like to bring to the club but the transfer-window is an exasperating system - we all seem to be chasing a small group of players. It is very difficult to get that standard of player that I feel would push us on and give us a real chance to be where I think we could get to at the end of the season. Today showed you we can't afford to have a lack of experienced players. Being a small squad, when you have injuries or suspensions, it affects you."
Southend United manager Steve Tilson has confirmed that Rory Fallon has turned down a move from Argyle, as he wants to stay at Home Park to fight for his place in the team
Argyle lost 1-0 at Burnley. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Seip, Sawyer, Hodges, Abdou, Summerfield, Nalis, Halmosi, Jutkiewicz, Easter. Subs – Fallon, Folly, Smith (not used – Larrieu, Moult). Attendance - 14,162
Yoann Folly joined Argyle yesterday for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £200,000, and agreed a two-and-a-half year contract. Folly admitted working again with Sturrock had been a significant factor in deciding to move to Home Park. He said: "I first heard that he was interested in me after the New Year's day game and there have been rumours ever since. So it is nice to finally sign for Plymouth and I'm looking forward to the first game and taking it from there, really. The gaffer always brings the best out of me so that was one of the reasons I decided to come here. He's always honest with me and tells me if I've played well, but also what I've done wrong. He tells me that I can improve and how I can make my game better. I don't know whether I'll be playing today, but I'm not carrying any injuries, so I can do so if needed. If I'm on the bench, I will watch the team tomorrow and see how they play. My aim is to do well in training and win a place in the team. I just want to do well, so I can gain more confidence and improve my game. I'm not seeing this move as a short term move, but hopefully, somewhere I can stay for quite a while."
Nick Chadwick did not travel to Burnley due to his knee injury. Paul Sturrock had been optimistic the niggly injury had improved sufficiently after Chadwick scored in Argyle reserves win at Swindon, but he was deemed to be not quite ready for a return to first-team duty
Paul Sturrock has not ruled out renewing his interest in Everton left-back Pat Boyle, who was on trial with the club this week and played for the reserves in the win at Swindon on Wednesday. Sturrock watched the game and thought the state of the pitch had been far from ideal. "It was very difficult for me to make a decision on him in those muddy conditions," he said. "I'm going to either send Andy King to see him in a reserve game for Everton in the near future, or I will make a venture up. Hopefully, that will be before the transfer window shuts. That will enable me to have a clearer picture of him." Meanwhile, Sturrock will hold talks next month with the Argyle players who are going to be out-of-contract at the end of the season. He said: "It's very difficult with the comings and goings of January to discuss things with the ones who are going out-of-contract. I'm going to leave all that until mid-February before I talk to them and find out where they are coming from."
Ryan Dickson has left Argyle and joined Brentford. Dickson has been on loan at Griffin Park since mid-November and now moves for an undisclosed fee. Paul Sturrock said: "Brentford are very keen on him. I'm delighted for him. I always knew he was going to be a professional footballer - the worrying aspect was whether he was of Championship standard. He has an opportunity now to go away and build himself up to that standard. He has got to play first-team football to develop himself, not reserve-team football. That's what he's done. He's now out in the big wide world. I don't like these sort of players sitting in the reserves, unless I feel they are going to progress into the first team. I wish him well. He is one of those who was here when I was here the last time and I'm sure he'll come back and bite me on the bum to show me he's a good player."
Yoann Folly today joined Argyle from Sheffield Wednesday. The central midfielder goes straight into the squad for the visit to Burnley, and Paul Sturrock said: "It's my first full signing, so I'm very, very pleased. He's very athletic; very thoughtful, tactically; he's a really good mover; and he plays several positions, as well. I'm pleased to add him to the squad. He's played right-back for France Under-21s; he's played left-back, right-back, wide left, wide right, but he is a centre midfield player. He can be a passer; he can be a sitter; he can be the man supporting the front players - he has all that in his armoury to bring to the team." Sturrock gave Folly his debut at Southampton, and also signed him for Sheffield Wednesday. "I brought him in and gave him his debut at Southampton," he added. "He played 13 games under me and was man of the match in six of them. When managers changed over, he fell out of favour a bit and there were very few times after that when he played for Southampton. So, when I went to Sheffield Wednesday, I brought him there and he was beginning to become a fans' favourite for his performances but finished up on the periphery again when the new manager came in. Over the last six or seven games, he's been playing quite regularly and I was a little bit worried whether I'd be able to pick him up again." Despite being an important member of the Wednesday side this season, Folly handed in a transfer request last week, citing concerns about his lack of first team football. "It was a bit difficult after Paul left," he said. "This is a fresh start for me - a new town, an exciting challenge." Yoann has been in England for more than four years. "I was in the St Etienne youth team, when I got signed by Southampton," he said. "I played two games for the youth team at the end of my first season. When Paul was at Southampton, I played a few games. Then, after two years, I moved on to Sheffield Wednesday, with Paul again, and played a few games there. He's a good manager." Yoann agrees with his manager's description of his abilities, and is looking forward to linking up with his four countrymen at Argyle. "I see myself as honest," he added, "maybe sometimes a bit too much. I like to pass the ball around, get the ball from the defenders and give the ball to the strikers. It's always to have a few Frenchmen in the team. It helps a lot."
Paul Sturrock is wary of the threat Burnley will pose tomorrow. He said: "After watching them the other day against Arsenal, if they perform to that standard, they are going to be a real handful. I thought they played very well. You just don't know how it is going to transpire. You don't know how the game against Arsenal is going to affect them. It was a Sunday game, so they have had one day less rest. The pitch will be a feature because there has been a lot of rain around the area. It looked the kind of pitch where it could be a problem. I am sure they will be fired up as they have got to get back in with everybody else because they have had a disappointing run in the league lately." Argyle have been very consistent away from home this season and Sturrock is hoping for more of the same. He said: "We are very hopeful that, with the way we played against Hull when the boys showed great determination and our form away from home, we have got to get back on the rails. Even with a couple of defeats lately we have been very competitive. Even in the Cardiff game where we disappointing compared to the standards we have achieved, we have still gone to the last minute and had the opportunity to not lose games."
Paul Sturrock has defended Argyle's board of directors over the sale of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to Wolves. He said: "I have just left some very disconsolate men up in the boardroom. They are not in the practice of dismantling teams that are seventh in the league and pushing for the play-offs. They are fans like anybody else and they are absolutely gutted about the situation. But, in the end, the only way the player was going to sign for this football club was to agree to the release clause. The circumstances were that the manager wanted the player and the directors went along with the wishes of the agent and the player. If I had wanted the player, I would have done exactly the same because none of us have got a crystal ball. When that deal was done, nobody could have realised what was going to happen." Argyle were prepared to make Ebanks-Blake the best paid player in the club's history to keep him at Home Park, but the striker did not even want to discuss a new deal. "Nothing surprises me in football," Sturrock added, "the situation has arisen where the offer has been made, which enabled him to talk to Wolves. I'm led to believe the deal he has done, he couldn't turn down, and he has gone to a football club whose manager has said is bereft of goals. It's an obvious signing to make if you are the Wolves manager." Ebanks-Blake had also been linked with QPR but Sturrock insisted Wolves were the only club to make a firm bid. He said: "Other managers muted to me their thoughts about the deal in the last 24 hours, but they had other targets in mind. All they were doing was marking my card that they knew about the release clause and if their other targets fell through they might come in for him."
Argyle are fighting to keep David Norris at Home Park after the loss of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to Wolves yesterday. The club are prepared to make Norris the best paid player in the club's history, to fend off interest from Ipswich Town, amongst others. Argyle are also close to completing the double signing of Chris Clark and Michael Hart from Aberdeen. Personal terms for both players have been finalised and Argyle are now awaiting their final decisions. Argyle have also made bids for Luton Town's strikers Calvin Andrew and Drew Talbot. Paul Sturrock had a meeting with the squad yesterday morning, when he outlined to them the current situation. He said: "There have been a lot of players moving out and very little coming in, but that's not through choice. I'm working tirelessly on it. I can assure you I have had a few sleepless nights in January so far, and I'm sure I'm going to have a few more. The only word I can use about the transfer market at this minute in time is zany. There are players I would like to bring to the football club but the prices seem to be exaggerated, which kind of knocks you sideways on making decisions. I'm very hopeful we will have two or three players coming in soon, and I would like to think some of them would be in before Saturday. But I'm a realist and I appreciate that these things can drag on."
Argyle take on Burnley at Turf Moor tomorrow without David Norris and Krisztian Timar. Norris is serving a one-match suspension after receiving five yellow cards and Timar is still struggling with a hamstring injury. Timar was replaced by Mathias Doumbe last Saturday, but he suffered an ankle injury during the FA Cup tie. The French centre-back sat out training at the start of this week but should be fit to face Burnley. Nick Chadwick is also set to be included in the squad, despite a slight knee problem, and there will also be a call-up to the squad for the first time for Dan Smith. Paul Sturrock said: "Timar will have a late fitness test, but I will not push it. Even if he's 80 per cent fit, I'm not prepared to put him into that situation. The boy Chadwick has got a wee niggle in the back of his knee, but he trained yesterday and should be fit. Doumbe also came back into training and we are very hopeful he will not get any reaction from that. We would be a bit light on the ground if he was to drop out." Rory Fallon has been at the centre of speculation over a transfer to Southend United but Sturrock insisted he would have no qualms about playing him tomorrow. He said: "He's a registered and signed player here and we pay his wages. I would expect him to be professional." Smith is a product of the Argyle youth set-up who can play on either side of midfield. Sturrock said: "You know who he reminds me of? A young Chuck. He seems to have that kind of engine and that kind of vitality, although I'm not saying he will mature into that kind of standard."
Bournemouth boss Kevin Bond this week revealed he had inquired about signing Luke Summerfield but Paul Sturrock insisted he is part of his plans. "Summerfield is going nowhere," he said. "He's not available at this minute in time. You could see his potential with the way he played last Saturday. I would like to think we will go into contract discussions with him."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake today left Argyle to join Wolves for £1.5million. Argyle offered to make the striker the best paid player in the club's history but he chose to join Wolves after they triggered a release clause in his contract that allowed him to talk to clubs submitting a £1.5m transfer fee. Paul Sturrock said: "We did not want to Sylvan to leave, and we would have offered him the best contract that has ever been offered to a Plymouth Argyle player to try and persuade him to stay. However, he was so determined to join Wolves that he would not even discuss a new deal with us. For me that's disappointing. When Sylvan joined us, he and his agent were insistent that the £1.5m trigger price was written into the deal. If we hadn't agreed, he would not have signed - it's as simple as that. When Wolves indicated they were prepared to meet that £1.5m price, we were bound to allow Sylvan to talk to them and we could not ask Wolves for a bigger fee.I believe that Wolves have got a bargain. Sylvan is already one of the top goalscorers in the Championship and there is more to his game than just goals. He is still a young man and has everything in front of him. I wish him well."
Lee Martin will not be returning to Argyle, as he has opted to spend the rest of the season on loan from Manchester United to Sheffield United. Martin said: "I spoke to Sir Alex on Wednesday and he told me of the interest of Sheffield United. There were a few other clubs interested, but it is good to know a big club like Sheffield United is interested in me. Plymouth wanted to extend my stay, but the decision was made by myself and Sir Alex." Paul Sturrock said: "We are very disappointed that Lee has decided to move on, but we understand Sheffield is not too far from Manchester. He did very, very well for the football club and we would like to wish him well."
Argyle have received a bid for Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, thought to be £1.5 million, from Wolverhampton Wanderers
Paul Wotton's recovery from his knee injury is slowly progressing. Paul Sturrock said: "Paul has had a couple of injections in his knee and will then need a little rest before he can kick on again. This niggling strain has given a problem when pushing off from jogging to sprinting. It is nothing too untoward but the quicker he has back to training and playing reserve games the quicker he will get back to having an opportunity to be selected for the first team."
Paul Sturrock is expected to complete the transfer of Chris Clark this week after Aberdeen accepted Argyle's improved bid, thought to be around £200,000, for the midfielder. Argyle had already agreed a fee of £175,000 for Clark’s team-mate Michael Hart
Argyle reserves won 2-0 at Swindon Town yesterday, the goals scored by Ben Gerring and Nick Chadwick. Argyle gave a run-out to trialist Pat Boyle, and Paul Sturrock said: "I'm going to contemplate overnight what we are going to do with him." Of the game, Sturrock added: "Swindon put a very strong team out and we more than matched them. All the young lads did excellently, but the boy Dan Smith was outstanding in midfield. Chadwick had a very good game and he and Rory Fallon ran the line well. It was a very pleasing performance." Argyle: Saxton, Moult, White, Gerring, Boyle, Smith, McCaul, Duggan, McCrory, Fallon, Chadwick. Subs - Barnes, Grant, King
Aberdeen have accepted an offer from Argyle for Michael Hart, and the right-back is discussing salary terms with the club. However, Paul Sturrock has not yet managed to agree a deal for Chris Clark. Sturrock has also had an offer for Glenn Whelan, thought to be £250,000, turned down by Sheffield Wednesday
Argyle have made a £175,000 offer for Aberdeen right-back Michael Hart, but may have to increase that bid to complete his transfer. Paul Sturrock is also reported to be interested in Hart's team-mate, midfielder Chris Clark. Both players will be out of contract at the end of the season and, so far, have not accepted new deals from the Scottish club. Sturrock refused to comment on the speculation but admitted he had stepped up his attempts to make signings. He said: "I have made more than half-a-dozen bids for players and we are just waiting on word back from all sorts of clubs." Sturrock confirmed all of his potential transfer targets were currently based in the UK. He added: "I have started in Britain and my head scout is now perusing the European scene." Sturrock wants to strengthen his squad before Argyle's game at Burnley on Saturday because Krisztian Timar is injured and David Norris is suspended. "I would like to think so, but football is a funny game at this minute in time because the prices of selling clubs are starting to escalate dramatically," he said. "It's a real problem because some of the valuations I have had so far, are well off the mark for people that I'm trying to buy."
Ryan Dickson is a transfer target for three clubs. Dickson is currently in the second month of a loan spell at Brentford and they want to sign him, as do Darlington and Torquay United
Trialist Pat Boyle will play for Argyle reserves in their game at Swindon Town today, but Paul Wotton will not be involved. Paul Sturrock said: "His knee is really strong, but there is something in the back of it which is niggling away. They have pinpointed two or three areas they want to keep injecting until they get the right spot. Obviously, he needs a wee bit of rest and then he's going to kick on again."
It is six weeks since Kevin Summerfield returned to Home Park, and he has enjoyed being back. He said: "I think the football side of it hasn't been a problem. We knew what had been going on because Plymouth has been close to our hearts even though we have been all over the country - doing this, doing that and doing the other. Obviously, I have got family down here and Paul has got a lot of friends. We knew all the ins and outs of the games, and who had been playing well. It wasn't as if we were coming in blind somewhere, which we have done in the past. We have inherited a good squad and, so far, they have proved it. They have been adaptable and, to be fair, they have been quite receptive to the way we want to play the game, which is slightly different to both Ian and Tony." Paul Sturrock quit Argyle to move to Southampton in March 2004, taking Summerfield and John Blackley with him. They followed him to Sheffield Wednesday six months later and then to Swindon in November 2006, with one promotion-winning season at each club. "If you sit down and think about it, basically our feet haven't touched the floor in that time," said Summerfield. "We have not been settled anywhere in terms of family life, where we were living and what club we have been at. Even though we have had success, it has never been a stable environment. I think, speaking for myself and for John and Paul, that stability is something that would really appeal to us after our travels. We have worked with three clubs that have provided us with different problems to overcome while we have been in charge of them." Argyle have continued their progression under three different managers - Bobby Williamson, Tony Pulis and Ian Holloway, and Summerfield added: "The players have changed, certain areas of staff have changed but, basically, it's much the same. I think the running of the club has been taken on another level, which also helps us on the football side, which we haven't had too much of at certain places. All these little things behind the scenes become a bonus to us, which we don't have to fret about and get involved in. Now the New Year is over, I think all three of us are looking forward to actually start working Monday to Friday on things we want to do. With the amount of games over Christmas, our training ground time was very limited."
Paul Sturrock had been hoping for a home FA Cup fourth round tie, or a visit to one of the Premier League's top four clubs, but he got neither. He said: "I'm a bit disappointed we didn't get a home tie or one of the big fish. But we haven't played Portsmouth for a long time and I think our fans will enjoy going along there for the day. Portsmouth had a very good result at Ipswich in the last round. They are a really good side and they have got some exciting players, but I have got a sneaking feeling that some of them might not be here. I think you will find some of them will be involved in the African Nations Cup so, you never know. Football is a strange game. I'm quite friendly with Harry and we have had a few chats in the last couple of weeks. We are all looking forward to it."
Argyle have been drawn to play Portsmouth away in the fourth round of the FA Cup
Luke Summerfield made his first start since mid-August in Saturday’s cup-tie with Hull, and after the game said: "It was good to get a result, that was the main thing, and it was good to be back in the frame. It was enjoyable, and now I know I've got to work hard to try and keep my place. At my age, after such a progressive season last year, I just want to go out and play football, whether it's here or out on loan somewhere. Hopefully now, I've got a chance here. I thought I did OK. I tried to get the game going and I had a few shots, but the main thing that mattered was the result. All the lads did brilliant, and we're in the next round." Argyle were two goals up at half-time, but two second-half goals from Dean Windass meant a winner from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was needed. "It was a different game after the break," Summerfield added. "They weren't going to sit back, and we had to absorb a lot of pressure."
Illness forced David Norris to miss Argyle's win over Hull City, and his absence prompted all sorts of speculation because Ipswich, Leicester and Norwich are all interested in signing him. Asked about his absence Paul Sturrock replied: "He has got sickness and diarrhoea. I found out this morning, about eight o'clock. The doc went to see him and the sickness had finished but not the diarrhoea. I wasn't prepared to send him out there in white shorts!" Norris will also miss Argyle's trip to Burnley this Saturday, due to a suspension
Argyle are waiting on replies from rival clubs after making offers for 'three or four players', Paul Sturrock has revealed. Argyle are thought to be ready to make a second offer for Exeter City’s Jamie Mackie, having had their initial bid rejected, and it is thought Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Yoann Folly is also a target. Two other players rumoured to be involved are Michael Hart and Chris Clark from Aberdeen. Sturrock will not reveal the identity of any of the players, but said: "I have made bids for three or four players and I'm just waiting on word back from the clubs to see if they have been accepted or not. The offers were made on Thursday and Friday, and I'm hoping to hear something today or Tuesday." Sturrock was asked whether the offers made were substantial ones, and he replied: "What's substantial these days? They are bids I'm hoping will be accepted." Sturrock added: "I'm totally fed up with these transfer windows. They are doing my nut in. All it does is breed speculation and surmise and it can also cause unrest to your players. I think it should be from the end of the season to the end of August, and after that you go with what you have got. It's up to you to make sure you have got a decent squad and enough kids to handle injuries." Sturrock believes Dan Gosling's move to Everton should be sealed today. He said: "I think it's near-enough finalised. He has passed his medical and the final signing will probably go through today. We are delighted for him." The future of Rory Fallon is still unclear after Southend United tabled a £250,000 bid for him last week, but reports suggest he is not willing to move to Southend. Meanwhile, national newspaper reports yesterday linked Paul Connolly with a move to Charlton Athletic or Leicester City.
Peter Halmosi created two goals and scored the other in yesterdays win over Hull, and following the game Paul Sturrock said: "He has a work-ethic and a shape-ethic that I find very refreshing. He works for the team as much as anything else, and is not just what you would call an out-and-out winger, which is very pleasing. At Cardiff on Tuesday, Peter was indifferent to the form he has recently shown. Wingers will always be like that. They are hot, cold and indifferent. He was cold last week, but this week he was warm. He put in two free-kicks that we scored from and he rolled in Sylvan as well. Sylvan took it very, very well and I was glad to get that third goal." Sturrock also had words of praise for all three of the strikers he used. "Sylvan worked very hard today and I thought the front two were tireless," he said. "It would be nice to see Easter get his just desserts with a goal or two, as well. There is a bit of work to do with him on the positional side of things but I am quite excited about him as well. The handful Jutkiewicz came on again today and terrorized them for a bit. He hit the post and, for an 18-year-old lad, he is a big strong boy and I think he will benefit to us." Hull went into the interval two down, but half-time substitute Dean Windass scored twice soon after. Sturrock added: "It was a cup-tie played in the right spirit. It was end-to-end stuff; the goalies made some great saves, there were goal attempts from both teams. The boys worked very hard but I was a bit disappointed with the way we started the second half. Hull lifted their tempo and we could have quiet easily cost ourselves the embarrassment of being 2-0 up and losing the game. Windass has experience and he was shouting at people and bossing them around. As I said, we did not react properly for the first ten minutes of the second half. We didn't really attack the ball, we didn't pressurize the ball, and we let too many things in behind us, and we paid dear for that." Asked who he fancied in the fourth round, Sturrock said: "It is always nice to fill your coffers with money, but I have never been a lucky person with the draw. Hopefully, that will change. I want a decent home tie or one of the biggies at their place."
Luke McCormick made his first start since Paul Sturrock’s return against Hull yesterday and played a huge part in Argyle progressing to the FA Cup fourth round. "It was my first game for a while and, on the whole, it went quite well," he said. “There was a 20-minute spell when my kicking was really bad, which is not like me. I usually find that is one of the strongest parts of my game. It has been tough, being out of the team, and you realize how much you miss it when you are out there. You just have to get your head down and wait for opportunities to come. For the first half saves the ball was with the lad on the edge of the box, so I tried to smother it but it popped out and then Barmby had a go. Fortunately, I was able to make another save. For the second half save I gambled because it was the only place he could really put it and I managed to get myself across, and get enough on it to turn it round the post. It was a typical Cup tie in the second half. The first half was more like a league game. The conditions didn't help and the game got stretched. They started to go for it more and they made it difficult for us by putting balls in behind us. The threat of Windass made it tough in the second half.” Dean Windass scored with a superb free-kick to set up a nervy ending for Argyle, and McCormick added: "I lined my wall alright but, with the things players can do with the ball, it makes it harder. He could have tried reversing it and putting it in the other corner. Fair play to him, he put it right in the top corner and I didn't have much of a chance." McCormick and Romain Larrieu have been contesting the goalkeeping jersey ever since the early days of Paul Sturrock's first spell in charge, and there is still little to choose between the two. McCormick said: "Whoever came in, it was still a case of having to prove yourself again. A lot of years have passed since he Sturrock was last here and I think I have changed as a goalkeeper, and I am sure Romain feels the same. At the time I came out of the team, I felt I had put in some of my best performances. A couple of weeks later Paul Sturrock came in and I felt in limbo a bit. It is a difficult time when you have a new manager and you are not in the team. It is just one of those things and I was pleased to have the opportunity today. McCormick’s friendship with Larrieu over the years has never wavered and the pair have helped each other develop into better goalkeepers. McCormick added: "I had a good season the year the Gaffer left, but Ro had some good seasons as well. He played in the first Championship and I played the majority of the second. It is a clean slate now and all that is history. We are both at the age now where we both need to be playing, which is a bit of a problem for us and for the manager. We are both in the same situation and it is for the best that we help each other through. We don't want to make it harder than it already is and I really enjoy working with Romain." McCormick is now looking ahead to the draw for the fourth round and, hopefully, a repeat of last season's run to the quarter-finals. He said: "I have grown up watching it all my life and with the experience of last year, which was phenomenal. The boys have done well to stick to the task and get us through. We have got ourselves in the hat. It would be nice to pull one of the big ones out."
Argyle won 3-2 against Hull City in the FA Cup tie at Home Park, the goals scored by Nadjim Abdou after 23 minutes, Peter Halmosi (26) and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake (58). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Doumbe, Seip, Hodges, Summerfield, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Easter. Subs – Jutkiewicz, Sawyer, Chadwick (not used – Larrieu, Fallon). Attendance - 12,419
Paul Sturrock has revealed some of the staggering salaries being paid by Championship clubs to sign players during the transfer window, but he has promised he will 'wheel and deal' and 'bite and scratch' to make additions to his squad. He said: "You have got QPR, Leicester and Stoke, who I'm led to believe have got a reasonable pot of money, and we haven't even discussed the big hitters in the league. I know of three players I have asked for who have wanted £10,000, £12,000 and £14,000 a week - and, by the way, have got it. If that's the kind of standard of player we are trying to get our hands on to upgrade ourselves it's going to be difficult. But, at the end of the day, we have just got to wheel and deal, bite and scratch and try to get a decent standard into the football club. Competition for places puts an edge to players when they realise there is somebody of the same standard breathing down their neck. It does amazing things to a football team, so I'm working very hard on that kind of scenario. The problem at this minute in time is that I don't think these are Premier League players who are getting £10,000, £12,000 and £14,000-a-week. Now, if you want to start in that bracket, you are up above that again. But, there was a wee boy who hit a big boy with a stone one day and won." Sturrock insisted he would not sign players for the sake of it during the transfer window, although he is keen to bolster his squad. He added: "It seems to me that in January there is this idea you have just got to grab everything you can get your hands on. It can knock your team out of sync because there is an adjustment period for new players, which can affect results. We do merit strengthening because too few have carried the load in the Christmas and New Year period. I would like to add, and there are obviously players I would like to move on. That's normal - people going out for people to come back in. It's amazing how many people are chasing the same players. It's very scary at this minute in time. You have just got to get in line and haggle your wee heart out until you can get something sorted."
Lee Martin will not play in Argyle's FA Cup tie against Hull City this afternoon, due to illness, according to Paul Sturrock. It has also prevented Martin from having talks with Alex Ferguson about whether he will remain on loan to Argyle for the rest of the season
Exeter City have turned down Argyle’s £100,000 bid for Jamie Mackie, and it is not yet clear whether the club will increase their offer for the striker
Argyle today completed the signing of Jermaine Easter from Wycombe Wanderers. Easter joined Argyle on loan in October, and the deal has been made permanent for a fee thought to be £210,000
Dan Gosling looks set to complete a £1.5 million transfer from Argyle to Everton today but the club have refused to comment until the transfer has been completed
Everton left-back Pat Boyle will spend next week on trial at Argyle, and Paul Sturrock is hoping to get permission to play him in the reserves' game at Swindon Town on Tuesday. Sturrock said: "Everton have given permission for him to come down here so we can have a look at him. If he's here on trial, he's here to impress. And if he impresses we would sort something out. I would think that there will be other trialists coming in periodically so we can have a wee peak at them."
Argyle have made a £100,000 bid for Exeter City striker Jamie Mackie, and are now waiting for a response. Bristol City and Bristol Rovers are also thought to be keen on Mackie, who will be out of contract at the end of the season, but the only other club to make an offer for Mackie are Cheltenham Town
Norwich City have become the latest club to be linked with David Norris. Ipswich Town and Leicester City have already put in unsuccessful offers for Norris, and Norwich have now made their interest known. Paul Sturrock plans to hold talks with Norris next week about offering him a pay rise and an extended contract to keep him at Home Park. Sturrock has refused to comment on the speculation
Mathias Doumbe is on stand-by to replace Krisztian Timar for against Hull City at Home Park tomorrow as Timar has a hamstring injury. Paul Sturrock said: "We think he pulled some fibres in his hamstring and we don't know if this game is going to come too quick. I will not force him into a situation where we could have him out for six weeks and miss all those league games. We will just have to get on with it. It would give Mat the opportunity to come in and stake his claim. I have only seen him play once before, so it would be up to him to go in and do the business." Sturrock admitted one other player was struggling with an injury, but would not reveal his identity. He added: "Timar is going to have a real late fitness test and there is another one who looks as if he's struggling as well. But the essence is to win this football game because if you get a decent draw in the next round you get more revenue coming in, you can get on Sky or the BBC and who knows what you can achieve? So the longer we are in this competition the better for us. I will play a team to win, and I will play as strong a team as possible." One consideration for Sturrock is whether to give a game to Luke McCormick, who has not played since Sturrock returned to Home Park at the end of November. Sturrock said: "There are a couple of players I haven't seen properly yet, and tomorrow might be an ideal opportunity, but it will not be to the detriment of the game. We are at home, we have to be the offensive side and we will be going all out for a victory." Argyle are aiming to emulate the success they had in the FA Cup last season, and Sturrock said: "The FA Cup has not been what you would call fantastic for me, but I would like the same kind of run that Plymouth had last season."
David Norris will be suspended for Argyle's game at Burnley next week after receiving his fifth yellow card of the season against Cardiff City on New Year's Day.
Paul Sturrock has issued his strongest statement yet on transfer speculation and the position Argyle find themselves in. He said: "We are seventh with probably the biggest opportunity we have had in Plymouth's history. If I kowtow to the demands of other football clubs and sell, let's say Halmosi and Norris, it just does not make any sense. Everybody has a price but it would have to be outrageous. I would like to say again to the fans that our top players will be going nowhere unless it is an incredible bid and we are not even close to an incredible bid at this juncture. We have a duty to our fan-base. We are seventh in the league and we should be adding, and I emphasise adding, to our squad rather than depleting. I have let Hayles go but my valuation had been got at, so that is a different kettle of fish. People have contracts here to perform and play, and they are quite happy to sign these contracts and play for Plymouth Argyle. This month causes so much unrest at football clubs. The media have a food frenzy, which causes unrest as well because the players read it all. I would much prefer January to get out of the way and we can get settled down again. None of our top quality will be leaving the football club." With the hectic festive schedule close to completion, Sturrock is planning to talk to his entire squad on an individual basis following the FA Cup tie with Hull. He said: "I decided that I would talk to each player individually but, with four games in 11 days, it would be best to put that on hold. We have this game on Saturday to get over with and then we have a free week, and the free week will be spent with individual players and chatting about their situations. There is one other thing I would like to say and that is: I am not here to panic. It seems to me that January has this idea that you have to go out there and grab everything you can get your hands on, and knock your team out of sync - there is an adjustment period for new players. You can also blow all your cash and there has to be longer-term thought going into this, although this team merits strengthening because too few have carried the burden over this Christmas period. We have a huge meeting this evening. Our head scout has come down and we are all meeting with the Board for a smoking of the peace pipe. I have been on the phone to lots of managers for the last three days and I have had lots of discussions with agents."
Lukas Jutkiewicz has revealed he chose to sign on loan for Argyle instead of other interested clubs because of the chance to work with Paul Sturrock again. He said: "Paul Sturrock gave me my chance at Swindon so I have got a lot of respect for him already, and I enjoy working under him. He's a really good manager. The fact that he was here was probably the biggest reason for me signing, because there were other clubs I could have gone to." Jutkiewicz signed for Argyle on New Year's Eve, only hours after David Moyes had agreed his move to Home Park. He said: "To be honest, I only found out on Sunday evening that it was going to go through. I got a call from Paul Sturrock and he told me Everton had agreed to it. It all happened so quickly and I didn't have much time to get my stuff together. They were trying to push it through so I was able to get some sort of a game at Cardiff, which I was really pleased about. The sooner the better." Jutkiewicz was sent on for the last 15 minutes at Cardiff, and added: "It was a little bit difficult because Cardiff kept the ball really well. All the lads have had a lot of games in a short space of time and they had done really well up until then. It was just nice for me to get out there." Jutkiewicz was denied an equaliser when his overhead kick in stoppage time was saved by Kasper Schmeichel. He said: "Obviously, I had my back to goal so I didn't really see too much of it. One of the lads told me it hit the keeper in the face. I was actually appealing because I thought someone had handballed it. But I looked around and no-one else was." The brief appearance against Cardiff was Jutkiewicz’ first taste of senior football this season, after his move from Swindon to Everton last summer. He said: "It has been really good at Everton. I have been training with top quality players, which is only going to help my development. You have got to learn to do things quicker and sharper and I have been involved a few times on the bench as well, which has been nice. Hopefully, this loan move is the next stage in my development. I'm glad it's until the end of the season because I can get settled in and get used to the way the team plays, so it's definitely a good thing."
Southend United have made a £250,000 bid for Rory Fallon, and reports suggest the Argyle board have accepted the offer, although there has been no confirmation from the club or whether Fallon has agreed to the move
Lee Hodges captained Argyle at Cardiff yesterday following the departure of Barry Hayles, and after the game said: "I didn't know I was skipper until today. It was a nice honour, but it isn't nice to be skipper when you lose. We gave our all on the day, but there weren't that many shots at goal from either team. If you made a chance, you needed to take it. Their goalkeeper made one or two good saves near the end, when we pushed on in the last ten or 15 minutes. They seemed to be getting deeper and deeper, and the only way they were going to do anything was to hit us on the counter-attack." Cardiff’s goal was a close-range tap-in, after Romain Larrieu had parried a shot from Tony Capaldi. "The way we defended then was disappointing," Hodges said. "Their full-back ran the length of the pitch and he hasn't been tracked, and that cost us. Romain has made a save and it fell down and the boy put it in. It was really disappointing." Argyle almost snatched an equaliser a minute later when David Norris saw his shot from the edge of the area deflected away. "I think the shot was on target," Hodges added, "and the 'keeper had gone the whole way across goal to cover it. It spun and, fortunately for them, it just went outside the post on the other side rather than inside." Capaldi was jeered throughout the game by the Argyle fans, and Hodges said: "I don't think that will have bothered him too much. He's a good player, and an international player." Hodges was happy to pay tribute to Barry Hayles, and said: "Barry was fantastic for us. He did a brilliant job leading the line for us, and good luck to him now he's gone. Fair play to him."
Paul Sturrock admitted that his players looked tired in their defeat at Cardiff City yesterday. He said: "I thought we looked very leggy. It was a game too far for some of them. We've got a small squad, and we've asked them to play three games in a very short period of time. We've also had to chase games in the last two games, after going behind, which has sapped a bit of strength out of them." Argyle did not sit back, but were unable to rescue the situation. "We were very positive in our approach," Sturrock added. "We stuck two wingers out there and tried to get our two strikers into the game, but it was a difficult game to play in. Cardiff were very sprightly in the first half and they got their goal. We had to chase the game, and we had to make a couple of substitutions through injuries. In the end, I was disappointed, but I appreciate that I've asked an awful lot of these players." Sturrock is glad that Argyle's next Championship game is not until Saturday week, following their FA Cup tie against Hull City. "Thankfully now, we've got a Cup tie coming up and we don't have another League game for ten days or so," he said. "That will be a big benefit for us. We're playing at home as well on Saturday, which will be a great help. We need to get rested, and we need to dabble a wee bit in the market, if we can. We need to freshen things up, and it's an appropriate time to do that."
Paul Sturrock sent on-loan striker Lukas Jutkiewicz on for the final 14 minutes of yesterday's game, and afterwards said: "I thought he did OK. He gives us another option as far as up front is concerned. He's a different type of player. He'll take a little while to get to the pace of the game and adapt, but I'm pleased with him. I think he'll definitely benefit us. I've worked with him before, and he's stronger and quicker than he was. He knows what I'm looking for, and whether he starts or whether he's an impact player from the bench is up to him. I'm not finished as far as that area of the team is concerned. We need to add more players now. We have to have at least another one or two players coming in. My aim has been to stay in the race for the play-offs over this period. Hopefully, we've achieved that. Everybody will strengthen, and it will be who strengthens the best which will determine who's still in the race when the next important time - the end of the loan window in March - comes along."
Paul Sturrock has admitted he is working busily behind-the-scenes to make further additions to his Argyle squad. Sturrock believes there are still 'two or three positions' that need strengthening during the transfer window, and Argyle are rumoured to have made a bid for Exeter City striker Jamie Mackie. There could be departures from Home Park as well, with Everton reported to have bid £1million for Dan Gosling and Ipswich Town again interested in David Norris. Sturrock said: "We need to dabble a wee bit in the market to freshen things up. This squad merits me bringing in some fresh faces. There are two or three positions that we definitely have to put a presence on as far as competition for places is concerned." Sturrock did not rule out adding to his squad before the FA Cup tie against Hull on Saturday, and added: "I have got meetings with the chairman and the board, and the chief scout is coming down. We have got lists of players that we would like to chip away at. It's important because I feel competition for places always puts an edge to a player." Sturrock would not comment on the speculation surrounding Gosling, but said: "Any transfer movement, in or out, will be announced when it's finalised. Nobody will be leaving unless it's a Plymouth Argyle price, and that's hefty."
QPR are set to complete the permanent transfer of Akos Buzsaky from Argyle today, whilst Argyle will finalise the £210,000 transfer of Jermaine Easter from Wycombe Wanderers tomorrow
Argyle lost 1-0 at Cardiff City. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Timar, Seip, Hodges, Martin, Norris, Abdou, Halmosi, Ebanks-Blake, Easter. Subs – Doumbe, Nalis, Jutkiewicz (not used – McCormick, Summerfield). Attendance - 14,965
Paul Sturrock has admitted a win today would be 'the icing on the cake' at the end of a busy festive period. He said: "I think we have had a good Christmas period under difficult circumstances. We have picked up one or two results and the icing on the cake would be three points against Cardiff." Sturrock though, is no under illusions that it will be a difficult task to beat Cardiff in front of their own fans. He said: "They had a wee slump earlier in the season but Dave Jones has sorted it all out now. They have got some very good players and it's going to be a hard game. We have done well there in recent times but we are going to have to be on the top of our game to get a result today." Sturrock has started Argyle's previous two away games with a 4-3-3 formation. Whether he does that again remains to be seen and he said: "That's a discussion to be had between me and the coaching staff after we have read the reports on Cardiff. I wouldn't rule out anything at this juncture." Sturrock will also consider whether to make any team changes and he added: "I have got to assess whether the players are fresh enough for one more match, or whether fresh legs are needed."
Jermaine Easter will be relishing the chance to spoil the new-year celebrations for his home- town team this afternoon. Easter was born and bred in Cardiff, and he said: "My main team was Arsenal, when I was a kid, but being a Cardiff lad I always looked out for City's results and I watched them play. They tried to sign me when I was a kid, but they were only in League Two and Wolves were a bigger club, so I made the decision to go there. There was a bit of talk about me going to Cardiff in the summer, but there was no official bid made." Cardiff have spent much of this season in the bottom half of the table, which is not what Easter was expecting. He added: "They have some big-name players, and Dave Jones has always done well with the teams he's managed, so it's a surprise to me that they're not higher. But where you finish in May is what matters."
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