A Round-up of Argyle News
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Andres Gurrieri has another chance of earning a contract with Argyle in tonight's friendly at Tiverton Town. Carl Fletcher said: "He will be staying with us for a few more days." Gurrieri possesses a European passport so, should Fletcher pursue his interest, there should be no problems signing him, which is not always the case. “We tried to get a Spanish lad in on trial,” added Fletcher, “but we would have had to pay training costs when he was young and he had been at Real Madrid for a long period of his youth. If he’d come, even though he was a free agent, we would have had to pay lot of money to Real Madrid, which isn’t going to happen.” Durrell Berry and Jamie Lowry will miss the trip to Ladysmead through injury, Berry suffering from a sore knee while Lowry is still awaiting the results of a scan on his damaged ankle. Fletcher said ahead of the fourth pre-season friendly against local teams that his focus is on performance and not outcome. "We're progressing that's the main thing. I'm not fussed about results in pre-season," he said. "I wasn't too concerned about the result at Yeovil, it was their third match and our first in pre-season. We've still got a lot of hard work to do and we are doing it in training. I want to make sure we're ready for the 14th of August. It's great that local teams are accommodating us and allowing us to play against them. But I don't get too involved with other teams, I just concentrate on what we are doing." Fletcher said he had not been surprised by the quality of the non-league sides. He said: "No, I'm not at all surprised, I get to see lots of games in the Conference. I don't think there's much difference between the top Conference sides and League Two and League One, to be honest. We look at all divisions, really, to see if there are any players out there who can benefit us."
Argyle have been given a bye in the first round of this season's Johnstone's Paint Trophy, so will now enter the competition at the second round stage on October 9th.
Argyle won 3-1 at Weston-super-Mare in last night's friendly, the goals scored by Joe Lennox, Ladjie Soukouna and Warren Feeney. Argyle: First half - Chenoweth, Williams, Purse, Nelson, Bhasera, Lennox, Wotton, Soukouna, Gurrieri, Chadwick, Sims. Second-half - Chenoweth, Nelson, Purse, Blanchard, Bhasera, Cowan-Hall, Hourihane, Young, Gurrieri, Feeney, Lecointe. Subs - Harper-Penman, Richards, Vassell.
Following the win over Weston-super-Mare, Carl Fletcher admitted he was pleased with his sides progress so far in the pre-season. He said: “It was a good workout for us. Weston did really well. They worked really hard and put us under pressure. It was good for us both mentally and physically. In pre-season, you like to get a feel for the ball and pass it, a bit like it was at Truro, but they put us under pressure, and you have to learn to recognise the situation you’re in. The short little passes weren’t what were needed at the time, it was the longer passes. That’s just learning the game and taking that responsibility. That’s what I want players to do. No-one is a better judge of how a game is going that the players in the pitch. If they feel that something needs to change or they need to do something differently, I don’t have any problem with them talking as a team and doing it. Fitness-wise we are getting there. The sharpness is getting there. It’s a work in progress. There are bits of the game where we are not there, but they are bits we’ve not worked on yet. You can’t do everything in a day. Pre-season is about progression, moving on, working on stuff and getting your fitness. I thought they did that, the lads. They worked really hard.”
Former trialist Andres Gurrieri is back at Home Park and was in the starting line-up at Weston-super-Mare last night. Gurrieri played in friendlies against Queens Park Rangers and Saltash last year, but due to the constraints of administration, Peter Reid was unable to sign him and Gurrieri went on to sign for Burton Albion. Carl Fletcher said: “Me and Ro knew him from last year. We played with him. We knew he was available, we just thought we’d get him and have a look at him. We thought he was going to sign last year, and at the time we both liked him. All the players did, really. You can see tonight that he is technically good, he works hard and has bundles of energy. He can create things. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll extend it to try and get the Tiverton game in as well.”
Nick Chadwick believes the response to his red card in Argyle’s pre-season friendly against Yeovil Town was out of proportion. He said: “It was frustration on my part. We were 3-0 down at the time. Yes, it was a pre-season friendly, but you either like winning football matches or you don’t. Clashes happen between centre-forwards and centre-halves all the time. A lot has been made of nothing really. If the referee had subbed me off, would such a fuss have been made of it? I don’t think so. It’s not my greatest moment but it wasn’t anything too cynical and it’s time to move on. There are a lot more important issues than that incident.” Chadwick admitted he was unsure after being sent-off what the disciplinary consequences would be. He said: “No-one wants to miss the start of the season. I have worked hard in the summer to get to where I am now and I want to be a big part of things. So that wouldn’t have been the ideal start. I asked the question and found out I wouldn’t be suspended for the first three games. I was relieved and happy it was all systems go still.” After an injury plagued end to last season, Chadwick is ready and raring for the new campaign. He said: “I have trained every day since we came back in and I think the games are important now. We were off it against Yeovil. You could tell they had played two games before that, and we hadn’t. So I think the next three or four games are important now to get minutes under our belt and make sure we are alright for the start of the season.” Argyle’s build up has included boxing and swimming sessions, in addition to the usual training and playing games, and Chadwick has welcomed that. He said: “I think it has been important. We haven’t gone away on tour this year, so it can be a bit mundane if you stick to the same environment doing the same runs. The general fitness of everybody now is excellent, but you have got to get that game sharpness.” After playing Weston-super-Mare and Tiverton, Argyle have two pre-season friendlies at Home Park. Chadwick added: “Personally, I think it’s important to play the local sides. It’s good for the community, and it gets you back into the swing of things. But as we saw against Truro the other night, these lads aren’t going to roll over and die. There are some good players at that level so it’s still a good test for people, without coming up against the real quality that Birmingham have got.”
Argyle play their third pre-season friendly tonight, at Weston-super-Mare. So far, Carl Fletcher has been playing every player available but insists as time goes by, he will be deciding on a more regular squad. “Obviously the closer we get to the 14th, the more settled we will want to be,” he said. “We will wait and see who that is over the next few games but we’ll start with Weston tomorrow and go from there.” Fletcher has mentioned throughout the pre-season that he is trying to get everybody to the same level of fitness ahead of the League Cup tie with Portsmouth, so there is competition for places. Warren Feeney, Paul Wotton and Durrell Berry have missed the pre-season fixtures with injuries, but Fletcher says there is a chance they could feature tonight. He said: “Feeno and Wottsy will probably be involved providing there are no flare-ups tonight or tomorrow. In every game we’ve played so far, we’ve rotated so everyone has had a similar amount of minutes. It’s about getting fitness and minutes under your belt so if we can play as many of them as often as possible then it's good.”
The severity of the ankle injury suffered by Jamie Lowry should become clear on Monday, when he will have the ankle scanned. Carl Fletcher said: “We have just got to wait for the swelling to go down now before we get a scan. That will be on Monday, and we will know more then.”
Carl Fletcher is planning to keep tabs on Rhys Griffiths following his spell on trial at Argyle. He said: “I’ll speak to Rhys in the next couple of days. He’s not here anymore because he’s had to go back to work in Wales because he’s a Fireman, but I’ll speak to him. Fletcher has been impressed by Griffiths since his arrival at the club and says there are not many players around with his attributes. “He’s physical,” he said. “In a way, he’s your typical target man. There aren’t many of them these days and his goal scoring record speaks for itself really; 180 goals in 181 games. Whatever league you are in, that is a lot of goals. He came in on Tuesday, never looked out of place and in terms of a trialist, he’s come in and shown what he can do.” With Griffiths having a full time job as a fireman it might appear that it would be a difficult move for him to make, but Fletcher thinks any potential move would be very simple. “I don’t think it would be hard,” he added. “It’s down to the person and if they want to do it. For a lot of people, there is no greater profession than being a professional footballer. There are a small amount of people that get a chance to do it and you want people that want that, want to take a risk and prove to themselves and to everyone that they can cut it.” Griffiths admitted he will realise a personal dream if he signs for Argyle. "I don't have an awful lot of time left and this would be a great way to end," he said. “I do have things to sort out before I can seriously put pen to paper, but they have to decide whether I am worth a decent contract. I have played in a game and done okay and managed to score a goal. They have to go away and come up with some sort of contract and I have to go to my employees, the Fire Service, and ask if it's okay to have a career-break. Without that it's not something I would really consider. I certainly want to return to my job if I do get the opportunity to go down to Plymouth. We are both sorting things out at our own ends and then we will talk again. I am hoping that they do because it's something I have always wanted to do and I would like to play in the Football League before my career comes to an end."
Argyle fitness coach Scott Russell has left the club, having moved back to Australia for family reasons. In his place Cornish Pirates coach Simon Raynes has been working with the club on a temporary basis, helping with pre-season training.
The Argyle youth team lost 4-1 at Bridport in their pre-season friendly last night, the goal scored by Tyler Harvey.
Carl Fletcher was full of praise for Truro City and manager Lee Hodges after the pre-season friendly on Tuesday. He said: "We have a good relationship with Hodgie and the pitch was fantastic. Hodgie told me a few of the fans came and sorted it out for them because he was worried about it. That's great team spirit for your club from the local community. We know when we come to Truro it's always a tough game for us. I made the players aware of that. The workrate was there, so I was pleased with that. I thought we kept the ball reasonably well, created a few chances and could have had more goals. It was a good, decent workout for the lads, I think."
Argyle under-18’s fixture against Newport County, scheduled for July 30th, has been cancelled, due to the facilities at Elburton Villa not being ready.
Argyle beat Truro City 1-0 in last nights friendly, the goal scored by trialist Rhys Griffiths. Argyle: Gilmartin, Lowry, Blanchard, Richards, Williams, Lennox, Copp, Hourihane, Harper-Penman, Griffiths, Cowan-Hall. Subs – Nelson, Purse, Bhasera, Richards, Vassell, Young, Soukouna, Lecointe, Sims. Attendance – 1,007.
Jamie Lowry will have a scan today after suffering an ankle injury during the friendly at Truro City. Carl Fletcher said: “Jamie caught the guy’s boot and went down on his ankle. He lives in Newquay anyway, so he’s gone down to Treliske Hospital to have it checked out. I’m a little bit worried. It swelled up straight away and it’s a disappointing because he’s a good player. We’ve got Durrell out injured at the moment and then we’ve got Jamie gone down tonight so that’s both my covers at right-back gone. We’ll wait and see. don’t want to say too much but he was in a lot of pain and it’s a shame because he’s a good player and a lovely lad and he’s fitted seamlessly into our squad.”
Rhys Griffiths scored the only goal of the game as Argyle won at Truro City last night, and his first-half strike impressed Carl Fletcher. He said: “I said to the lads, before the game, ‘Rhys has come here on trial so give him the opportunity to show what he can do’. At the end of the day, in the first-half, you can pass it as much as you want but you’ve got to get the ball in the box and that’s what we did for him to score his goal. He could have had a couple of others, too. As I said earlier in the week, he’s not looked out of place all week. He obviously tired towards the end, that’s understandable, but I certainly wouldn’t like to be marking him, he’s definitely a handful. We’re under no illusions, we know that, in League 2, for all the amazing football you can play, sometimes you’ve just got to have a fight and a scrap and hope that your players are sometimes bigger and better in the air than other team, so it’s important that we have players who can do all different things.”
Luke Young wants to be the man that replaces Simon Walton in the centre of midfield for Argyle this season, but knows there will be competition from players such as Conor Hourihane, Ladjie Soukouna, Paul Wotton and Jamie Lowry. Young said: "I grew up playing in centre mid and now, with Walts departing, it's a little bit more of an opportunity for me, but it's not going to be easy. I'm going to work hard in training and push myself as much as I can, and if I do end playing centre mid then I have got to try to stay there. I had quite a bit of success out on the wing last season so if the gaffer decides to play me on the wing then that's fine with me. I will give it my all, as I would in any position really." Argyle have three weeks before they play their first competitive fixture and all the work the players do between now and then will be with that match in mind. Young said: "Everyone knows pre-season is going to be tough, so you kind of prepare yourself for it to be hard and, to be fair, it has. You can see in training that everyone is fit because of the running we have done. It has been hard and everyone has got through it. It's just trying to take it into games. You can do as much running as you want in training, but it's nothing compared to match fitness. I think the more games we get the fitter we will get, and then come the start of the season we will be raring to go." Pre-season for the squad has involved not only running and ball-work, but gruelling boxing and swimming sessions, and Young added: "Although the boxing and swimming was hard and demanding physically, it's always nice to change it up a little bit and give the mind a break."
Port Talbot Town striker Rhys Griffiths has been on trial with Argyle over the last 2 weeks, and will play in the friendly at Truro City tonight. Carl Fletcher said: "Rhys has played all of his career in the Welsh Premier League. He has been the top scorer for the last seven seasons. Winning the league title, he has played in European competition. I met Rhys a couple of years ago when I was doing my 'B' coaching licence and got to know a bit about him, and spoke to a few people. He has a very impressive scoring record. No matter what level you are at, you have still got to put the goals away. He's a fireman as well, and I think he's looking to give football a right-good go one last time and see how it goes. He came in for a couple of last days last week, and we have got him for a couple of days this week, so we can get a game in as well, so that's pleasing for us. He has not looked out of place. He's 32 but he's a self-confessed fitness freak. He's a big target man, and there are no shrinking violets in the Welsh Premier League. He's well capable of looking after himself. He's a real nice fella and it's good to have him down." Argyle are taking on Truro for the sixth successive pre-season, and have won all five of the previous games. Fletcher said: "We have played them every year since I have been here. Vass and Ollie went on loan there last season so we have a good relationship with Hodgie. It's good for them and good for us. It's fairly local, which makes life a little bit easier. It's another game to get under our belts." Meanwhile, Fletcher has decided not to pursue any further interest in Spanish trialist Alejandro Perez Jimenez.
Nick Chadwick will not be suspended for the first three matches of the new season, Argyle have confirmed. After consulting with the FA they learned of a recent change of rules, whereby players sent-off in friendlies are only suspended for one game, and that is allowed to be the next friendly. Carl Fletcher is pleased Chadwick will not be banned but hopes he will learn from the sending-off. “Everybody reacts at some times in their life in the heat of the moment, and we all do things we probably shouldn’t do,” said Fletcher. “So it’s a case of learning from it and getting on with it. He knows he shouldn’t have done it. No matter how old you are, you still make mistakes in life and you just have to learn from them. It’s a relief for him, you don’t want to go through the whole of pre-season and then miss the first three games. We left Paul Wotton out the team towards the end of last season because if he had got a booking he would have missed the first three matches of this season. It's tough, mentally, when that type of thing happens." Fletcher admitted the club would still take disciplinary action against Chadwick, adding: ”We didn’t catch it clearly on camera, but I’ve seen enough. I’ll keep my opinions to myself, and I’ll speak to Chaddy and we’ll go from there.”
Trialist Alejandro Perez Jimenez was released by Spanish La Liga side Sevilla at the end of last season and has spent the last week at Home Park. Carl Fletcher admitted he has been impressed. “I thought he did well,” he said. “He played the full 90. He can play across the back four as well. It's always difficult, though, when foreign players come over. He speaks pretty good English and he did well.” When asked if Jimenez would be staying for an extended period, Fletcher replied: “We’ll see in the next few days.”
With the 5-0 defeat to Yeovil behind him, Carl Fletcher is looking forward to Tuesday’s friendly at Truro City. “Truro always give us a good game,” he said. “It’s the second game and it’s only a few days after the first one, so we’re trying to get everybody as many minutes as possible. We want a broad spectrum of everybody at a similar level of fitness and playing is the only way that will happen.” Fletcher opted to take all three of his goalkeepers to The Avenue yesterday, but only used one, with Jake Cole one of just two players to play the full 90 minutes. When asked why the other ‘keepers didn’t play, Fletcher insisted it was part of his plan. “Rene or Ollie will play against Truro,” he said. “It’s a bit pointless a ‘keeper playing 45 minutes and they all agree with me they’d rather play one full game than two half games.”
Argyle lost 5-0 to Yeovil Town at Avenue Stadium, Dorchester in their first pre-season friendly today. The Argyle side included trialist Alejandro Perez Jimenez at right-back. Argyle: Cole, Jimenez, Purse, Richards, Williams, Harper-Penman, Young, Soukouna, Vassell, Chadwick, Cowan-Hall. Subs – Blanchard, Nelson, Bhasera, Copp, Hourihane, Lowry, Sims, Lecointe (not used - Chenoweth, Gilmartin).
Despite the defeat to Yeovil Town, Carl Fletcher was in a particularly optimistic mood after the game. “It was our first game and it was Yeovil’s third wasn’t it and I think really that showed,” he said. “But it’s pre-season isn’t it. I’m not fussed about the score really you know. It’s a time for people to make mistakes and stuff so they aren’t happening when it comes to the first game of the league season. There’s always things we can improve on and now we just look to Tuesday.” Nick Chadwick was sent off with Argyle already 3-0 down, and that made life significantly harder for the rest of the team, but Fletcher was impressed by how well they fought on. “We’re all here to get our fitness and work hard. Sometimes they work for you and others they don’t,” he said. “It’s tough being a man down but I was pleased with the way they applied themselves. 5-0 was a little harsh. The way we acquitted ourselves against 11 men was good but it’s done now so we just move on to Truro.”
Nick Chadwick was sent off against Yeovil Town after an off-the-ball incident with defender Richard Hinds. As the red card was for violent conduct, Chadwick will now miss the first three match of the season, unless the club appeal the decision. Carl Fletcher insisted he hadn’t seen the incident and said: “I didn’t see it myself but we will have a look at the video and we’ll take it from there,” he said. “I’m very, very disappointed though. I haven’t spoken to him yet but I will do.” Despite Chadwick’s probable absence from Argyle’s opening fixtures, Fletcher insists the club won’t rush out to buy another striker. “What’s happened today has had no bearing on what we are doing,” he said. “You don’t have to play with a target man. You can play in other ways. Sometimes you are able to do it and sometimes not. We won’t rush, we’ll just see how things go.”
The Argyle youth team won their first pre-season friendly today, 2-0 at Callington Town, the goals coming from Jordan Berry and an own goal. Argyle: Walton, Watson, Bradley, Summers, Purrington, Allen, Elcock, Berry, Asumadu-Sakyi, Harvery, Hutchinson. Subs: Wheatley, Rooney, Hall, Moxham, Tucker, Stark.
Paul Wotton has admitted finally getting onto the pitch against Yeovil Town tomorrow will be a relief. He said: "This is the first season for two or three years when we've started on an even keel with everybody else. The club's in good hands, with a good owner and people are getting paid on time. It's a proper football club again. Last year, you were carrying around the luggage with you, but what happened, happened, and we fortunately stayed up. We have had a good two weeks' training and while I'm not going to say we're going to win the league, or do this and that, the players and the management have got standards and levels they want to reach. Every club in the league is going to say that they want to get promoted, but, and I know it's an old cliche, it's literally game to game. Playing 46 games is a long old season, but if people work as hard as they did last year and we put into practice what we've been doing in training, then who knows what might happen?" Wotton said he was looking forward to playing against Yeovil, his former team. He said: "It is a lovely family club who have done so well to stay in League One. I had a lovely year there and I'm looking forward to playing them." Wotton said the players were glad they were playing their first pre-season match tomorrow. He added: "Pre-season is what it is. It's hard work and you don't play football, but it's got to be done. Once the games come around, they come around thick and fast and it's a sign you've broken the back of pre-season. I've got a decent level of fitness, I feel great and deep down in my belly I still have the desire and I still enjoy it. But whether you're 18 or 34, it's not a difference set of circumstances, you ache after training."
Carl Fletcher is planning on giving the majority of his player’s some time on the pitch in their opening pre-season game with Yeovil Town tomorrow. Argyle's preparations have been hindered by the wet weather, which forced the squad into the Marjon gym in midweek. The team are using the training facilities at the campus which include football pitches, a training suite and swimming pool. "I think because it's going to be the first game it would be too much to ask for the players to play all 90 minutes," said Fletcher. "At the same time it's important players all get minutes. It's a case of easing them in gently, I think that's important, we want to keep the injuries down to a minimum. So from that point of view, we'll try to ease them in. For all the training we do, and we've been at it for a couple of weeks already, actually playing a game is different." Argyle will face a Yeovil side who have already played two pre-season matches, but Fletcher is not concerned his men will be off the pace tomorrow. He said: "It doesn't really bother me, to be honest, I'm not really bothered about Yeovil. The main thing for pre-season is what we want to do and what we want to work on. It's great being able to use Marjon and we are very grateful to them. When it's wet we're able to train indoors rather than trudge out onto a wet outfield, which can be dispiriting for players. We're very lucky in that respect that they will help us out. There will be a few things we'll be looking at, stuff we've worked on in training, tactics and so on. So in that sense, I'm not too bothered about the opposition." Among the positives Fletcher will be looking to draw upon before their season starts, is that Argyle were difficult to score against in 2011/12. He said: "Yes, I want us to be like that but then any team, whether you are in the Championship or Premier League, wants to be hard to beat. Man City won the Premier League last year and I think they had the most clean sheets. If you're going into a game and you're struggling in attack or in possession, it's great to be able to fall back on the fact that as a team you're organised and are hard to beat. That will always keep you in a game."
Carl Fletcher is thoroughly enjoying life as Argyle manager. “Now there aren’t any games it’s alright," he joked. "My wife has found it easier at the minute anyway because she can talk to me. Well, she even gets to see me which is a bonus! I do really enjoy it, though. You have good days and bad days, just like any job you could have and sometimes, you do get the hump about things, but that’s just part and parcel, isn’t it? All the staff are working hard and we’re doing what we have to in order to make sure we’re ready for the start.” A lot is made about the pressure placed on managers by the board room, but Fletcher feels his relationship with James Brent allows him to simply get on with the job. “I keep him well informed of everything that’s going on. He lets me get on with the football side of things and when we need to speak to one another we do,” he said. “At the end of the day he’s employed me to manage the football club so why wouldn’t he. There’s a lot of chairman around the country who like to have their two pennies worth if you like but he’s not like that.”
Jamie Lowry is delighted to be returning close to home, and relishes the opportunity to help Argyle progress this season. "I've always followed Argyle's fortunes and know that last season was tough for them," the Cornishman said. "The gaffer and everyone else at the club wants us to push on this season and, hopefully, after last season, we can build on that and be positive." Released in the close season after nine years at Chesterfield, Lowry said the move to Home Park was mooted soon after, firstly during a conversation with coach Kevin Nancekivell. "The chance of a move to Plymouth came quite early after the end of the season," said Lowry. "Kevin gave me a ring and expressed an interest and said Argyle would like to speak to me and would I like to come down and talk to the gaffer and have a look at us. I took up the offer and here I am. To be fair, I'd been looking to get back home to the West Country for a while. However, for one reason or another a move hadn't worked out." Lowry added that his reputation of being a versatile does not bother him at all. He said: "I don't really mind where I play. I've played a bit of everywhere in my time. I'll play whichever position the gaffer feels we need cover. It doesn't bother me; I just want to play football."
Carl Fletcher's pre-season and leadership style has been given the thumbs-up by James Brent. He said: "Like fans everywhere and our own wonderful Green Army, I can't wait for the season to start now. It's been a long close season and Carl and his coaching staff have been impressing a lot of knowledgeable people with the way he has gone about it. As we saw last year when survival was our first, second and third priority, Carl knows what he wants and goes all out to achieve it. This year, he wants to put performance up there with results and will be demanding a lot from his players in terms of skill and fitness. He works them hard and given his own background of Premier League experience with West Ham and international nous picked up captaining Wales, he has fresh ideas. It is paying dividends. One senior pro told me last week that this was the hardest pre-season he could remember, and that player had plenty of experience to draw on. He said Fletcher calls the shots and will make the unpleasant decisions when necessary but does it straight and to players' faces. There's no dodging his responsibilities and that has earned him respect. That kind of leadership can drive a team forward and that's what everyone at the club is looking to see, just as the fans are too this season."
James Brent has pledged that every pound earned from the club's season ticket drive will go towards supporting Carl Fletcher's promotion push. He said: "We've done extremely well so far and the Argyle fans have been magnificent in supporting the tailored membership scheme which were launched in April. I believe the latest figures are that we've got over 4,000 members in the scheme, which is truly amazing and a tribute to all the fans. The money pledged before the season starts allows me to say to Carl 'you have this much for your player budget' and he then lives within those parameters. So, as we start the second part of the membership drive, I can say to the fans that the more money we get through sales will go directly to helping Carl improve the quality of football on the pitch, and us improving the experience at Home Park for the supporters on match-days. It's what I would call a virtuous circle in that the better funded we are by our membership scheme, the more likely we are to succeed. I want what Carl and the fans are also wanting, a successful Argyle team playing attractive football and pushing for promotion. We are determined to live within our budget and not spend money that we haven't got. So, the more members we have on board to boost pre-season sales, then equally the more money will go toward realising all those aims."
Carl Fletcher added some punch to his players' pre-season with a boxing training session held at Scott Dann's gym. He said: "Players look after themselves in the holidays a little more than they did in days gone by. We try and make training quite fresh and nothing too monotonous and try and use different places to keep players mentally focused. It gets a bit boring if you're going to the same place every day and doing pretty much the same thing, running around. We try and mix it up a little and, hopefully, it will keep people on their toes and make them work harder. We've been to the Life Centre and to Marjon swimming, which was serious training and now we've taken them for boxing training. We're grateful to Scott and Dave for letting us use their gym and helping us." Trainer Dave ‘Boy’ Smith, thought the sessions went well. "Obviously, fitness-wise the lads have good stamina in running and sprinting, but this way we can hope to give them better upper-body strength," he said. "We gave them pad work and also circuit training which is designed to give them core strength, essential in football today. Having better upper body fitness means players are less likely to get injured and be more confident in challenging for the ball. Everybody keen to keep fit benefits from boxing training and that's what we specialise in at our gym." Argyle skipper Darren Purse said last night: "I have so much admiration for boxers after today's training session."
Darren Purse insists Argyle are setting their sights high and will be pushing for promotion this season. "I think we've got to look at promotion, you can't look anywhere other than that," he said Purse. "The club has been in the doldrums in the last three seasons and you can't get away from that. Now we need to start putting that winning mentality into the football club. It has been down there too long now. This is a club that doesn't deserve to be where it is. I've seen, from the playing side, that the lads have given 110 per cent for the last three years. But it has just been mismanaged off the pitch. Now it's changed and we've got a great owner who has come in and has the passion for the football club. Hopefully, the gaffer will get the support from him, so he can put the players on the pitch to go and get promotion." Purse, along with the rest of the squad, returned for Carl Fletcher's first pre-season in charge last Wednesday. The pre-season schedule has been challenging and arduous but, despite the hard work, Purse insists it will be worthwhile in the long run. "You've had your holiday, your chilling time and now it's back to the hard stuff," he said. "The lads understand that, they know there's going to be tough sessions until the games start. It's not just building up to Portsmouth though it's Aldershot too and the six pre-season games we've got before then will get our fitness up. We can't go straight into the games though without having a base and that's what we're doing at the moment. It'll be a tough old season, 46 league games plus whatever cup games we get in too but this is what we're building up to now. " Meanwhile, Onismor Bhasera is expected to re-join his team-mates for pre-season training this week.
Carl Fletcher, whilst working within his budget, is optimistic his three close-season signings will not be his last. He said: "I think every manager in the league is always on the look-out for players to try to add something to the squad. I don't think you ever stop looking, even when the transfer window is closed, and whether you have a lot or not too much money. Something may just fall into your lap and be beneficial to you, or maybe something that you can keep in mind for a later date."
Darren Purse is honoured to captain Argyle and does not foresee any potential conflict with ex-skipper Paul Wotton. Purse has captained Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff City and said he was equally proud to be leading Argyle. "It's an honour to captain the football club and I am obviously happy and pleased to be given the job," he said. "I think having respect in the dressing room is a big factor, that always helps. Hopefully, I've got that. The squad are a great bunch of lads for what they did last year and, hopefully, I've got their backing. They are the biggest part of the football club. Being a captain in football is not as important as it is in a cricket club. As in cricket they have a major input into picking the team and field selections. But in football it's about controlling the dressing room, making sure nothing gets out of hand. You are the go-between the manager and the dressing room. If any of the players, have got a problems then they can talk to me and I'll liaise with the manager on their behalf. And when you're out on the pitch, you are the man that the manager turns to, to get points across. It's about being vocal and having respect both of the dressing room and the manager." Purse, who was a team-mate with Wotton while both were at Yeovil, added: "I've played under Wottsy twice when he was captain and so I don't see there being a big problem. We are good friends, both on and off the pitch, if there was one, then we'd have to sit down and sort it out. You can't be having cliques in the dressing room but like I said I can't see there being a problem. Paul's a top player and a top man, you don't get to play as many matches as he has played throughout his career without being thoroughly professional." Carl Fletcher was pleased that the veteran defender took up his offer to captain the side, but admitted that he had a choice to make before giving it to Purse. "I think there was a couple of players, Wottsy included, I could have given it to," he said. "But from a personal view, I wanted a centre half as captain. Darren is a natural leader, he's got experience, he's imposing and he's got the respect of everyone in the changing room and it was a no brainer for me really. He's one of those people that will help out. He demands very high standards and that's what we want."
Carl Fletcher has a big enough budget to win promotion, according to James Brent. His comments come after Fletcher claimed to have missed out on a number of transfer targets due to a lack of funds. "We have a budget that I think both the management team and the board is hopeful will give us a fair chance of promotion this season," Brent said. "I think he felt that there was a level that he thought was appropriate to pay for a couple of players and clubs in a higher league were determined that they wanted to pay more. Carl was very understanding about it, there was no issue."
Jamie Lowry became Carl Fletcher's third new signing of the summer yesterday, after a successful trial period with the club. Argyle had been short in central midfield following the departure of Simon Walton last week, but Fletcher insisted Lowry had not been signed as a straight replacement for Walton, despite the former having been most effective in central midfield for Chesterfield. Fletcher said: "Jamie can play anywhere in midfield, and also right-back as well. So, it's great for us that he can give us that option. But no-one has a position at the moment for right now I've got 24 players and they're all looking for spots. Jamie can play in midfield, so that is an option." Fletcher paid tribute to Walton, whom Argyle allowed to leave for family reasons. He said: "We thank Walts for all his hard work, especially last season. He'd had an up-and-down few years here before, but last year you could see a difference in him. Walts had gone through everything at the club, the good times as well as the bad times. But I think it shows what kind of person he is that he changed his contract to help the club with no benefit to himself, so that the takeover was able to go through. And so we wish him all the best for the future and understand why he moved on and hope all goes well for him at Hartlepool." Although it is thought Walton had been one of the better paid player at Home Park, Fletcher refused to be drawn on whether that gave him more latitude in the transfer market. "No, not really, you still have to work to your budget," he added. "In the past, the club has spent money perhaps not the right way, so it's important that this time we do things right."
Carl Fletcher may be the only person in Plymouth wanting the rain to continue. He has been happy with the weather because it provides ideal conditions for the players to carry out their pre-season training. "It's better because it's a bit softer under foot so things like blisters are down," he said. However Fletch does have a couple of issues with the lack of sunshine, adding: "But really it's gone the other way and the pitch is a bit worse for wear, and on the weekend we had to change our run route a bit because of flooding so it can be a bit annoying."
Argyle have signed midfielder Jamie Lowry, who was released by Chesterfield at the end of last season. Lowry, who has been on trial at Home Park for the last few days, plays in the centre of midfield, but also has experience at right-back and in other midfield positions. Carl Fletcher said: "Jamie's signed today, which is great. He's originally from Newquay, so he knows the area. He's a lovely guy. He can play anywhere along the midfield and at right-back, so for us to have that option is great. But no one has a position at the moment. As it stands, I've got 24 players and they're all looking for spots. Jamie can play in midfield so he's an option."
Paul Wotton believes he still has plenty of football left in him. "I'm 34 now, I've played nearly 600 games but I feel the same now as I did when I was 18 in pre-season," he said. "I'll know when it's time to quit. I've got a year left on my contract and that's all I'm focused on. Whatever happens after that will take care of itself. My body will let me know, Paul Wotton will be the judge of when Paul Wotton's had enough and it's certainly not at the moment, so I'll cross that bridge when I come to it." Argyle have a relatively young squad and Wotton is enjoying his role as one of the club's most experienced players. He said: "It helps the older lads because they bring an enthusiasm to training and a bit of naivety as well which is quite nice sometimes. I think it's good for them because the likes of myself, Darren Purse and Nick Chadwick can pass on little hints and tips and help them on with their education." And Wotton says after the problems the club faced last season there is a new found sense of pride within Plymouth, adding: "Around the city there's definitely an air of optimism and there's a definite feel-good factor around the club which is great because it's a fantastic football club. I think people got used to us being in the Championship and took it for granted a little bit and I think this has made everyone realise what a fantastic football club it is and thank God we've still got a football club here."
Paris Cowan-Hall has been impressed by both the spirit and warmth of the welcome received from his new team-mates at Home Park. He said: "Everyone has welcomed me so very well, and it's a good team atmosphere here at Plymouth. I was told by the gaffer before that's how it was at Plymouth, so I expected that. Most of the players were here last season and I know the gaffer is a lot to do with that. I know the boys really like the gaffer which is shown by how many re-signed for him." Cowan-Hall had been a transfer target for Argyle back in January, but at that time Woking wanted to hold on to their leading goal-scorer. He said: "He had tried to get me down here in January and had put in a bid to Woking, but it got rejected. We were at the top of the league at the time and I think I was top goalscorer, so Woking weren't looking to let me go which was understandable. But he contacted Woking about me fairly soon after the season ended. Everything was done in the correct fashion. I'd been offered a deal at Woking but was asked how I felt about a move to Plymouth. It was just too good an opportunity for me to turn down, so here I am." Cowan-Hall’s first impressions of the set-up at Argyle had been favourable and he hopes to maintain his goalscoring form at Home Park. "Yes, it's very good here, very professional, it's a massive club," he said. "Everything is professionally organised, even to how the kit is laid out. We're working very hard. The atmosphere around here is like, 'We want to win and see how far that takes us'. I hope to keep scoring goals and playing like I did at Woking. The gaffer said he wanted me to replicate what I did last season and that's what I'm going to try and do." Cowan-Hall insists joining Woking had been a terrific move for him. "Dropping down was one of the best things I've done," he said. "I had been at big clubs like Portsmouth in the Premier League and Scunthorpe in the Championship, and playing some of my best football in the reserves for Pompey. I had been scoring goals for fun but I just never got a look in to the first team. Everybody needs a chance to show what they can do. It's like work experience, everyone wants you to have experience but nobody wants to give it you. I was in a vicious circle. But at Woking that was the reason we got promoted. There was a great team atmosphere, which showed when things were going wrong we all dug in."
Paris Cowan-Hall, who joined his Argyle team-mates in reporting back for pre-season at the beginning of the month, prides himself on his fitness and did not approach his new regime with too much trepidation. But what Cowan-Hall did not know, is that Carl Fletcher and his coaching team do not ease players gently into pre-season training. The squad have been put through tough sessions of running and weights, which were exacerbated this year by a 'very serious' session of swimming. Cowan-Hall said: "Training's been going good so far. All the boys are gelling well and all of us have been working hard together. It's the same for all of us at this time of year and at every football club, but I tell you what, it was the swimming that killed me. I can swim, but for me give me running anytime. Swimming's not for me, I'm not going to become a swimmer. We ended up doing about eight lengths front crawl, there and back and then four lengths with a float in your hand, just kicking your legs. That was followed by another four lengths with the float between your legs, again with front crawl and four lengths at the end just to warm down, doing any stroke you want to. By the third length on the first set I was struggling. It was not a fun session, there was no laughing or joking. We're being pushed to our limits, that's why."
Carl Fletcher has picked Darren Purse to succeed Simon Walton as Argyle captain. Fletcher said: "I had a couple of players I could have picked, but Darren fits the bill for me. I wanted a centre-half. His experience and knowledge of football speaks for itself.
Matt Lecointe has targeted another England under-18 call-up. He said: "It's a massive target, but the only way I'm going to do that is by being in and around the first team squad. That's my target, trying to get a few starts and a few bench appearances. Just trying to get what I can. And if that follows on to an England call-up then happy days." Lecointe made his under-18 debut against Poland last season, and he wasted no time in making his mark. After only 12 minutes on the pitch, he controlled a right-wing cross and then lobbed the ball over the 'keeper from 12 yards out. Lecointe said: "The ball came in the box and it was all instinct really. It was another proud moment in the season." Lecointe admitted he had used Curtis Nelson's call-up by England as inspiration after breaking into the first team. He said: "I knew after playing a handful of games for Argyle there was always that opportunity after watching Curtis Nelson do it. I knew if I just kept my head straight and concentrated on my football that it could happen. Hopefully, I will be able to make the squad for the friendly against Germany in September." Before that, Lecointe hopes he, and Argyle, can make a successful start to the new campaign. He said: "I think now all the money problems have gone away everyone has got a clear head and they can focus on their football. Hopefully, we can push for the play-offs this season. We have brought in a few new faces, which is good. It has freshened the squad up and we will challenge on from there."
Matt Lecointe has been challenged by Carl Fletcher to prove he is good enough to be a regular part of his first team plans. Lecointe said: "The gaffer has said to me if I work hard I will be in and around the first team squad. But he stressed it was all down to me, and no-one else could help me. When I started as an apprentice last summer I would never have thought that I would have played for the first team by now. So to make 22 appearances is just amazing. All my friends and family are proud of me and I want to try to carry that on for next season." Lecointe is determined not to be distracted by talk of high expectations, and added: "You have got to forget about what everybody else is saying about you. Obviously, there are going to be times where you go through low spells and have your high spells. It's how you deal with your lows that's going to make you a better player." Lecointe admitted a role model for him at Argyle was Paul Wotton. He said: "Wottsie has played a lot of games. You look up to him. You look at the way he trains, you look at his attitude and you look how he helps the young lads. He's just a role model to me really, and I will try to follow in his footsteps."
Rene Gilmartin is looking forward to learning from the experience of Romain Larrieu. He said: "I spoke to him when I signed and he obviously knows the game well and knows the area well. He knows what it's like to play at this club. I think he came here at a similar age to me, so he can relate to what I'm doing and what I'm trying to fulfil here. We get on very well as professionals, and as friends as time goes on." Gilmartin was released by Watford in May, and Argyle soon made their first inquiries about him. "I know they rang the club after finding out I was leaving, looking for a reference to see what I was like," he said. "I think someone from Plymouth had seen me play. A couple of weeks later, they spoke to my agent and when he told me I said 'yes, I would be delighted to go there'. Basically, one thing led to another. I was down last Wednesday to sign and then train. I was very happy with it. It's a new challenge for me and one I want to grasp with both hands." An added bonus for Gilmartin was receiving the offer of a two-year contract from Argyle. "It's a big thing, with the way finances are at clubs," he said. "Clubs can only pay out 60 per cent of their income, so a lot of them are picking up youth team players, which is a good to see. But there are not a lot of two-year contracts out there. A lot of clubs just want to throw one-year contracts out there. As a 25-year-old goalkeeper, who has been in the game quite a while, to get a two-year deal is important for me for stability. That was a big pull for me to come here." Gilmartin had a loan spell with Yeovil Town last season and one of his team-mates at Huish Park was Paul Wotton. "I got on very well with him at Yeovil," said Gilmartin. "We are the same kind of characters. We want to guide the young lads as well and try to show them the right way to go. Paul Wotton is a good character to have in the dressing room. I noticed that at Yeovil and I respect him as a professional so it's good to have him here."
Argyle’s pre-season friendly with Yeovil Town on July 21st will now take place at Dorchester Town's Avenue Stadium, due to the recent adverse weather affecting the Huish Park pitch.
Simon Walton is sad to leave Argyle, but felt the move to Hartlepool was in his best interests. He said: "The move has got everything right about it. It's a step up in leagues, which is probably the main thing. Hartlepool are in League 1 with a team that is aiming to go even higher than that. Eighteen months ago, if you told me I'd be upset to be leaving, I would not have believed you. Coming back from my knee injury taught me a lot. I have grown up and learnt a lot. They say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and that's certainly been the case from a club and personal point of view over the last two years, from when I did my knee." Made captain by Carl Fletcher last season, Walton led Argyle through administration to survival. "I have never experienced that," he said. "I am going to be heartbroken to walk out on that. Without blowing my own trumpet, I think I had a lot to do with it. I am going to miss the place and the lads. It's a club going places. In a way, I'm a bit sad I'm not going to be part of it, but I have my own bright future to look to now." Carl Fletcher said: "Last year, he was a really important person for us. He's gone through so much for this club. He was my captain and pretty much leading out a bunch of kids when he was only just 24 himself. He was a massive part of what we achieved last season. I've known Walts for a long time and he's just a nice guy. I think a lot of people don't see that. He changed his contract to help the sale of the club go through, which shows the character of the man. It's important that we remember that. We are disappointed to see him go and we wish him all the best for the future." James Brent echoed his manager's sentiments. "It has been a pleasure knowing Simon," he said. "Throughout the really challenging times our club faced last year, Simon demonstrated absolute commitment and selflessness. He assumed the responsibilities as captain when we were at our lowest point and helped guide the team away from relegation. We understand the reasons for him wishing to be closer to his family and we wish him every success in his future career."
Argyle's players will be out and about in the city over the coming weeks, as part of their pre-season training. Carl Fletcher said: "We are going to do some runs around Plymouth. There are enough hills for every man and his dog. We are going to try to get to Saltram and run around there, and maybe use the outdoor pool at Mount Wise. There are some great areas around here that we can use, and it will be beneficial to our training programme." The players have had an eight-week summer break and Fletcher, along with Romain Larrieu and Kevin Nancekivell have been assessing their fitness in the first couple of days of pre-season training. He said: "I think it's just a case of easing them in, not flogging them straight away. We don't want to pick up too many injuries. We have had eight weeks off and everyone is different. Some people will have done some work in the off season, and others not so much. It's just a case of judging where everyone is, and seeing whether any individuals need extra, or maybe not as much, certain things like that. We are getting them reacquainted with a football and making sure we are all singing off the same hymn-sheet. They know they have got to do the training so once they get into the games then it's going to be more beneficial for them. Every training session is an opportunity for them to impress us and show us what they can do, for that chance to play in the first game." Fletcher is pleased with the friendlies which have been arranged, especially as Argyle left it later than many clubs to sort them out. He said: "A lot of teams were planning their pre-season games at the end of February or in March. So there were a lot of teams taken up. It's good to get a nice balance of home and away games. We are going to the local sides and Yeovil away, and we are thankful for Birmingham and Preston coming down. They will be good tests for us. You can get a massive club, like Man United, coming down and you just don't touch the ball for 90 minutes. That's not really beneficial to us for preparing for the first game of the season. So to get a Championship club and a League One club down here is great for us. It's great for us to go and play all the local sides as well. We are pleased with what we have got pre-season wise. In every game, we will be working on different things that we want to use or take into the season."
The pursuit of regular first team football brought Rene Gilmartin to Argyle. He played three times for Watford in the early part of last season, before losing out to England under-21 international Scott Loach, and that led to him having a conversation with then Watford manager Sean Dyche. Gilmartin said: "I had a chat with the gaffer and just said 'I can't do this, I need to play games'. I had broken into the team and then he changed things, and that was a big shock to me. I went to Yeovil and had a good loan spell there with Terry Skiverton. When Gary Johnson came in, that changed things. Then I went to Crawley and that was an eye-opener for me. No disrespect to Crawley, but I think Plymouth's set-up is the best in this league from looking at the other clubs. At the end of the day, it's a green pitch with the same white lines, no matter where you are playing. I have played plenty of games in my career. It's just I want to play more. I want to step on in my career and play as much as I can, and be a part of a team for a long period of time. I want to come here and be a part of a successful team. With the gaffer and the staff, I have no doubts we are going to do good things in the future." Gilmartin's first impressions have been all good on his arrival at Home Park. He said: "It's a very high standard club. You go in and the first thing you see is a big stadium. It's a big set-up with a large number of staff. You have got help everywhere you need it. My first impressions, and I have only been here three days, is that there are good people at this club." The south-west of England is not an unfamiliar territory for Gilmartin. He said: "I have got family in Totnes as well, so I have been down to Plymouth a few times as well. I think it's a nice part of the country." Gilmartin did not have any trepidation about moving to Plymouth, and added: "It's no big deal for me. I'm from Ireland. I'm on an adventure to be a professional footballer. I would move anywhere to play football and fulfil my potential, and do my dream job. As long as I'm on a football pitch every day, doing what I love, it's not a problem."
Simon Walton has left Home Park for Hartlepool United. Argyle have agreed to release the Pilgrims' skipper from his contract for family reasons. The move allows him to be closer to his family home in Leeds, some 45 minutes from Hartlepool, and also to be nearer to his young child. "Anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive family man," said Walton, "especially when it comes to my daughter. I am going to be upset to leave - there's no getting away from the fact - but I am taking a step forward in my life and a step up."
Carl Fletcher has admitted he had already missed out on a couple of players he had targeted because they could earn more money elsewhere, but has no intention of paying over the odds for new recruits. Fletcher said: "We've missed out on a couple because they've had interest from clubs in a higher division, and some because of wages. But that's part and parcel of the job. That's the way it is. We've got a wage structure in place which we will stick to. We want to run the club properly and not get in financial trouble again. If another club comes in and offers a player a lot more money than you can, that's life, I'm afraid. It even happens at the top – with a few more digits on the end!" The Pilgrims' boss admitted there were "certain areas" of the squad he still wanted to strengthen, within the club's financial capabilities. When asked whether he felt the need to add more strikers to the playing staff, Fletcher replied: "We've got five at the minute, so you aren't going to play any more than two or three. As it stands, we've got five, so we-re over-loaded already, But we'll see how it progresses over the next few weeks."
Carl Fletcher has revealed there are plans to loan out first-year professionals Jordan Copp, Jed Harper-Penman and Isaac Vassell after pre-season training has been completed. The aim is to see them gain first-team football at senior level. Fletcher explained: "We've got plans for Penners, Vass and Coppy to try to get them out on loan. We told them when they got their contracts that we know what they can do in training, but we need to see them in competitive men's football. But, if they do well in pre-season and we feel they might get some game-time with us, then they will stay here." Fletcher added: "It's important for the youngsters, especially outfield players, to take part in games with grown men, so to speak. Some players mature a lot quicker than others, and others maybe need a couple more years. From our point of view, we try not to look at where they are physically, or anything like that. It's a case of whether they can handle the football and are they technically good enough to be involved with first team players."
After the three-lap run around Central Park on their first day back on Wednesday, the squad played some small-sided games at UCP Marjon yesterday, did a weights session at Home Park and then went swimming in the Life Centre. The fully-prepared and professional start to pre-season training this year is in stark contrast to 12 months ago, when the club was still in administration, the employees were not being paid and there were not enough players to make up a team, let alone a squad. Fletcher said: "We didn't even know what kit we would be having, so it's a big difference now. We've got a good team spirit, and for a lot of the lads it's like they have never been away. Now it's time to get down to the hard work, but we try to make it as different as possible so we don't get bored with it. We'll be up at Marjon a lot. And we'll be at the Life Centre. But there's enough hills around Plymouth for every man and his dog. We'll be over at Saltram, Central Park, Dartmoor. All over the place."
Romain Larrieu says that Rene Gilmartin has been 'a target for some time' and helps to realise the Pilgrims' ambitions of having competition for places in all positions. Larrieu, who anticipates an exciting rivalry with Jake Cole and Ollie Chenoweth, said: "Rene comes here with a very good reputation as a goalkeeper and as a person and I welcome him to Home Park. Like every good footballer in whatever position you play, Rene wants to establish himself as the best choice for the manager. I know from experience that competition keeps everyone on their toes and that if you drop your standards a little someone will step in to take over. But Rene knows that Jake and Ollie are also ambitious and good at their jobs, so it will make for an interesting rivalry for that goalkeeping spot. I will help with technical aspects but so far as the competition goes, they will have to sort it out for themselves as to who will be the number one." Larrieu added:" Wottsie was one of the people we asked about Rene and he gave us a sound reference. He said that Rene played very well at League One level and so he should be just as good at League Two level. Wottsie also said that he was a good bloke to have around which fitted in with what others had told us. But, to be fair, we'd had him watched before and Wottsie just reinforced what Carl and me felt we knew about him."
Rene Gilmartin says it didn't take him long to make his mind up about switching to Home Park. "I got a call a couple of weeks ago," he said. "I knew by then that the club had been in touch with Watford when they knew I was being released to see what I was like as a person. My agent had a chat with me and said something might be available and I said I'd be really interested, so I've come down, signed the forms and now we're straight into it." The sun unfortunately didn't shine on the 25-year-old Irishman's first taste of pre-season at Home Park - which included a lengthy run around Central Park. "Yeah, it's a handy old run that one," he said. "It was quite humid and sticky but it's just like every year. You just brush off the cobwebs and get stuck back into training. Obviously it's very important on your first day to get in and get to know a few of the boys and the staff; but yeah it's gone really well today. I can already see the honesty and professionalism from the players and all the staff here and that will help to play a part in the results we get over the course of the season. Coming down here, it's a place that's definitely not a League Two setup. There's a big stadium, a large number of staff and if you can use that to your benefit you can only improve."
Goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin has become Carl Fletcher's second summer signing. Along with Argyle's other new recruit, Paris Cowan-Hall, the former Irish under-21 joined his new team-mates when the squad reported back for pre-season training this morning. Gilmartin joins as a free agent on a two-year deal, having left Championship side Watford at the end of last season. Having gained international recognition with both the Irish under-19s and under-21s, the 25-year-old made the move to Watford in 2010, and his time there included a loan spell at Yeovil Town. Carl Fletcher said: "With Romain retiring, we had a space to fill. We like competition for places and we've got three good goalkeepers now so it's perfect for us. They are all good ages. Ollie's obviously a little bit younger, so he's learning his trade, but we have got three goalies who are all pushing to play. We want the same for the outfield players as we have for the goalies. Competition for places." Gilmartin has more than 50 league games under his belt, including eight alongside Paul Wotton at Yeovil last season. "We've had him on the radar for a little while," added the manager. "Paul Wotton played with him last year and gave him a glowing reference, and everyone we have spoken to has confirmed what we felt anyway. It'll be great to get him in - another new face in the dressing-room."
Argyle will play Birmingham City at Home Park in a pre-season friendly on Saturday, 4th August, kick-off 3pm.
Paris Cowan-Hall formally completed his transfer to Argyle yesterday, having passed a medical and agreeing terms earlier in the summer.
As expected, the club has been given the go-ahead by the Football League Trust to continue with its plans for 'category three academy status' under English football's new Elite Players Performance Plan. The EPPP, which becomes active on 1st August, will see all Premier and Football League clubs re-organised into a four-tier academy system. Argyle will initially be granted a provisional operating licence while the procedure, which includes a formal audit, continues. Head of Youth, Kevin Hodges said: “It is a big bonus that we have received this confirmation after all the hard effort that a lot of people at the club have put in. Although our licence is provisional at the moment, we expected that and we know that we are firmly on the right lines.”
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