A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Dan Smith has agreed a new one-year contract with Argyle, and Paul Sturrock said: "I am delighted to have Dan on board for next season. He is a young player who has the potential to be a real force for us, and it is now up to him to show me he merits a place in my team."
Argyle have been placed at the top of the Championship standings by Deloitte's annual report on football clubs' finances. The report shows the club spent just 65 per cent of turnover on salaries, and a Home Park spokesman said: "It's obviously very satisfying to learn that we have come out so well from this financial report. The club have placed great stock on running a steady ship with sensible and prudent finances. To have our sensible housekeeping policy, rewarded in this fashion is flattering but unsurprising. It would have been easy to spend much more of our income on high wages, chasing the dream of instant success like Leeds United did a few years back. You cannot afford to spend more than you're bringing in - the old adage from Mr Micawber of annual income set against annual expenditure - and when it goes wrong results in misery, is still very true. There are no quick fixes in football - you have to build slowly and improve season on season as we have done. The fact that we've been successful as well as having a prudential approach shows we are moving in the right direction."
Paul Sturrock is optimistic of adding to his squad soon, but has ruled out making a move for Aberdeen midfielder Barry Nicholson. When asked about Nicholson he said: "No, I'm not interested in the player - we shan't be going down that road. At this moment in time, we've plenty of targets, but he is not one of them." Sturrock also said he shared the fans' frustrations at the lack of new signings but appealed to them to be as patient as he is having to be. He added: "I understand the supporters' feelings but I can only repeat that it's very, very difficult at this time of year to bring players to a football club. I've been very busy out and about looking at targets and I have lots of possible signings for this football club. I can sympathise with the supporters who had been hoping that we'd have had a signing or two by now. But this time of year, players, their agents and their managers are away on holiday, or if not that, then they're waiting to see what other offers drop on the mat. Our offer to Jimmy has so far been rejected by the player and his agent. Whether he'll change is mind I don't know at this juncture, but we've made the offer and that's it. But I want to strengthen my squad throughout, not just in midfield, so I've got offers into clubs to reflect our needs. And I know it's frustrating just now, but I'm afraid it's just a case of having to be patient."
Argyle have been linked with former Leicester City right-back Alan Maybury. According to reports, Argyle are also one of several clubs who have expressed an interest in taking Liverpool winger Adam Hamill on loan
Russell Anderson knows that Paul Sturrock wants to bring him back to Home Park, but the indications are that he wants to remain on Wearside. Anderson said: "I'd love to get a real shot at things with Sunderland, and it would be great to get an opportunity in pre-season. Plymouth said they were going to make a bid for me, but whether they have or not I don't know. I enjoyed my loan spell with them, and they seemed to enjoy having me as they said they wanted to make the move permanent. But, as it stands, I'm a Sunderland player. This is going to be a fresh start for me at Sunderland. I've still got another two years left on my contract, so I have enough time to make an impression."
Mat Doumbe is looking forward to being part of next season's new-look Argyle. "Some of the main characters have gone, but we have got other characters, and we will get together with the new ones that are going to arrive and maintain the spirit," he said. "I can bring experience because I have been a long time at the club. I always like to put a little bit of me into the group." Mat admits he delayed agreeing his new deal to consider his options, but was delighted to sign for another two seasons. "I just wanted to see what was going to happen," he said. "Sometimes, when you have been somewhere a long time, you just want to push yourself a little bit more and sometimes the way to do that is to leave. To be fair, I am really happy in everything - the league, the town, the dressing-room here - but last season was not a good season for me. I felt I was left out too much. I worked hard all year and felt I deserved more games, but I didn't get the chances, especially in the first part of the season. I will try to do better this year." Doumbe believes that Argyle can continue the year-on-year improvement he has seen since his arrival, and added: "We have done well every year since I have been here, better and better every season, so why not next year? I don't see why we can't do it. It was a bit disappointing towards the end of last season because I thought we had the space to arrive in the play-offs. First, though, we have to rebuild the team, to work altogether to build something new."
Marcel Seip will report back for pre-season training at the start of July, according to Paul Sturrock, and the manager also hinted that the defender could still have a future at Home Park. Sturrock said: "Nothing has changed at the moment. His hernia has been done, he's totally fit and he has gone away on holiday. He has certain things he has got to do to get ready for the start of next season. I will address his situation when he comes back." When asked whether he expected Seip to report back for the start of pre-season training, Sturrock replied: "Yes. He's a contracted player to this football club."
Paul Stapleton has admitted he has been 'pleased' by the amount of season tickets sold so far this summer. He said: "We are pleased our hard-core fans are continuing to support us and, hopefully, we can attract a few more. Once we start to get some new signings on board it might whet the appetite of other people. You set the scene in May but it tends to be June before there is a lot of movement. We expect that to be the same for us. I know Paul has been busy scouring the UK and Europe - but I don't think beyond that - and we are getting regular updates. It's not just a question of agreeing transfer fees though. There are also the players' wages to be considered."
Argyle have stepped up their attempts to sign Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar to new long-term contracts. Paul Stapleton has revealed he had talks with the agent for both players last Sunday, and said: "We had a long meeting but it was not just about them, but other players the agent has got as well. Talks are continuing with the agent about Peter and Krisztian." Timar has returned to Hungary for his summer break but, before leaving Plymouth, met up with the chairman. Stapleton said: "Krisztian was positive and upbeat, and he was very pleased with all the messages of goodwill he had from the fans. He realises he's a favourite with them and he likes it here."
Argyle's new director Yasuaki Kagami is set to make a fact-finding trip to Plymouth next month. Paul Stapleton said: "The intention is that he's going to come over some time in June. We are just trying to finalise the dates. Mr Kagami will meet everyone at the club and have a look around Home Park and Plymouth."
Argyle have been linked with Aberdeen midfielder Barry Nicholson
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe has accepted a new two-year contract, which he will sign next week. Doumbe, now the club's longest serving outfield player, joined Argyle in 2004 from Hibernian and has made 113 starts, mainly at the centre of defence. Paul Sturrock is delighted to have secured Mat's services: "I am very happy Matty has agreed to stay. Last year he had a tough time. When I arrived at the club the defence had been doing well and he was waiting for a chance to get back into the team. With a good pre-season I can see Mat having a good campaign and continuing as a vital member of the team."
Paul Sturrock has warned that Argyle's three new first-year professionals still have a lot to learn before they are ready for the step-up to the Championship. Sturrock has described goalkeeper Lloyd Saxton, defender Shane White and midfielder Damien McCrory, all aged 18, as 'development players'. The trio have been taken on by Argyle on one-year contracts after completing apprenticeships with the club. The manager does not expect any of them to be challenging for a first team spot in the near future. He said, "They are nowhere near the finished article. They are a long way from Championship standard. They are development players and have to make sure they show me an improvement over the next year." Sturrock does not have any immediate plans to loan out Saxton, White or McCrory to rival clubs. Instead, the boss and his coaching staff will work with them on the training ground. Sturrock said: "They will not be going anywhere before Christmas because I want a bit of time to develop these players myself. I do feel that Summers, Sloop and I have not had chance to put our stamp on certain players since we have been back at the club."
Argyle are still waiting to find out whether England under-16 international striker Liam Head will accept their offer of an apprentice contract. Head has come through Argyle's centre of excellence set-up but now other clubs are keen to snap him up
Luke Summerfield has vowed to work around the clock to become a first team regular for the club. Summerfield agreed a one-year contract extension with Argyle earlier this week, taking him up until June 2009. The 20-year-old made only five Championship starts last season and hopes to improve on that considerably in 2008/09. Summerfield said: "I want to be a footballer and that is a 24/7 job. Coming into work a bit earlier and staying on the training ground that bit longer is what I want to do to be a better player. I need to do a lot of things. I don't see myself as a complete player by any stretch of the imagination. I want to improve every part of my game, especially my strength. I'm not the biggest of lads and the Championship is a very hard league. Every footballer needs to be adaptable nowadays, especially with different formations and different things happening in the game. It's not like the old days of basic 4-4-2, but, primarily, I see myself as a centre midfielder. It's my favourite position and I want to take games by the scruff of the neck and boss them from the centre of midfield. but there's no doubt I will have to play different positions in the future and that won't bother me at all." Summerfield added: "I see set pieces as one of the strengths in my game at the moment and I'm going to keep practising. That can hopefully be another positive thing in the manager's mind to help me get in the team."
The Plymouth Argyle Supporters Training and Development Trust have completed the sale of the former 10-bedroom hotel in Mutley which was used to accommodate the club's apprentices. PAST&DT is the registered charity which was set up to raise funds to operate Plymouth Argyle Youth Development Ltd. The Trust took that decision when their three appointed directors could not obtain three others from the football club. The vacancies had arisen after the departures from Home Park of former manager Tony Pulis, assistant boss David Kemp and director of youth Stuart Gibson. Funds raised by the sale of the Argyle Hostel, after clearing the mortgage and other liabilities, will be used for grants to young people at the discretion of the Trust. The Argyle Hostel provided accommodation close to Home Park for the club's apprentices until the end of last season. Among the young players to have stayed there over the years were goalkeeper Luke McCormick and defenders Paul Connolly and Gary Sawyer. Argyle's various supporters' club branches - Plymouth, Avon, Cornwall, London and Northern - have all contributed substantial sums to the PAST&DT over the years, as have websites such as Pasoti and Greens on Screen
Northampton Town's chairman has revealed that his club accepted a £350,000 offer from Argyle for right-back Jason Crowe in January, but the 29-year-old decided against making the move to Home Park
Luke Summerfield has signed a contract extension with Plymouth Argyle until June 2009. Manager Paul Sturrock believes the 20-year-old former Ivybridge Community College student can compete for a regular first team spot next season. Sturruck said: "I think people saw in the home game against Blackpool, and in the FA Cup tie against Hull City, what he can achieve. He just needs to add more consistency, but that is the case with a lot of younger players. He has got a great range of pass, although he sometimes tries to force the ball, which I have talked to him about. He was much more sensible in the last couple of games and I'm very hopeful he will put a presence on the team next season." After the re-signing of Summerfield, the Pilgrims now have three remaining out-of-contract players - defender Mathias Doumbe and midfield pair Nadjim Abdou and Dan Smith - who have all been offered new deals. Doumbe and Abdou are expected to make their decisions any time now while Smith has rejected his new terms but is still in discussions with the club
Argyle will play Dundee United in a pre-season friendly at Home Park on Saturday, August 2 (3pm). The Anglo-Scottish clash will see Paul Sturrock face the club where he served as a player, coach and manager. It will be Argyle's penultimate pre-season friendly, followed by a trip to another of Sturrock's former clubs, Swindon Town, on Monday, August 4. The visit of Dundee United will be Argyle's only home pre-season friendly. Chief executive Michael Dunford said: "We wrote to all the Premier League clubs, and a lot of clubs in Scotland, about playing a friendly at Home Park on August 2. Dundee United were one of the first to come back to us and indicate an interest." Sturrock added, "Getting a Premier League club to come down was proving very difficult and Celtic and Rangers were in the same boat, but Dundee United came back to us, which was very pleasing. It should be a good game and it will be a special day for me. It's our only home pre-season game so it will be a chance for the fans to come and see some of the new players we sign." Sturrock was signed by Dundee United as a 17-year-old apprentice from Bankfoot Juniors in 1973 and spent all his playing career at Tannadice. The Scotland international striker made 576 appearances for the Arabs and scored 171 before retiring in 1989 to take up a coaching role with the club. He played an important part in Dundee United's only Scottish Premier Division title success in 1982/83. They were also European Cup semi-finalists in 1984 and UEFA Cup runners-up in 1987. Sturrock ended a 20-year association with Dundee United when he was appointed manager of St Johnstone in 1993. But, after five years in Perth, he returned to Tannadice, this time as the boss. Sturrock spent two seasons as Dundee United's manager before resigning in August 2000. Three months later, he started his first stint at Argyle and, during that time, he had his office partly painted in tangerine, the colours of Dundee United. Sturrock still has strong ties with the Tayside club and remains a firm favourite with their fans
Argyle had sold more than 7,000 season tickets when the Early Bird deadline for supporters to use the club's new 10-month interest free credit option passed on Friday. Dunford said: "We have just touched the 7,000 mark for season tickets and that puts us on a par with the corresponding stage last year. We thank all those supporters who have bought their season tickets. The response has been very pleasing." Argyle today announced their 'Slightly Later Bird' prices, with Adult tickest at £345 for the Mayflower enclosure and £450 elsewhere
Paul sturrock is confident of adding several new players to his depleted squad within the next six weeks. He was at at least three matches at the weekend and will be attending many more this week as he keeps to his vow that possible recruits would be seen at least three times. The previous weekend, Sturrock acknowledged he had been in the Czech Republic and admitted he had been excited by one recommended player, in particular, while watching the Sparta Prague versus Banik Ostrava fixture. True to form, Sturrock refused to identify any of his targets or - aside from the Czech match - which games he had attended. It's a hectic round of car, airport and football grounds for the Pilgrims staff, but Sturrock said he was closer to bridging the gap between playing staff in and playing staff out. He said: "We've got to be cautious, but yes, I feel we're getting there in terms of which players would benefit this football club. I'm confident I'll have several new players in time for pre-season training, which is about six weeks away. I've always said I would watch players recommended to me - I'm the one who has to make the final decision. I can confirm that I was at that game (Sparta Prague and Banik Ostrava) and that I was excited by one of the players identified to me by Andy King. But then there were three or four more who looked good, and also at other matches I've been to, both in and out of the UK. Summers and Kingy watched games last week and they've given me other names to add to the list. It's not an ideal scenario having to find so many replacements, but at this moment in time, I feel we're making headway. Everything will be done properly, each targeted vetted by me and also I'll make sure we work within the budget the chairman has given me."
Jermaine Easter has been ruled out of the Welsh squad for the upcoming friendlies with Iceland and Holland because of tendonitis in his knee.
Paul Sturrock has given his out-of-contract quartet a Monday deadline to decide whether they want to remain at Plymouth Argyle. Nadjim Abdou, Mat Doumbe, Dan Smith and Luke Summerfield have yet to respond to the Pilgrims' offer of a new contract to replace their current deals which expire at the end of June. Having released seven players in April, Sturrock said, "In an ideal world I would have heard from them by the end of this week - that was my intention. But as it's important decisions they've got to make, I've decided to give them the weekend to think over their offers. But I'll need answers by Monday at the latest - that's the deadline day for them. I've been given a playing budget with which to work within and it only stretches so far. Therefore, before I start trying to speak to other players and their agents that we've been looking at - I need to know whether any of these players will need replacing, too."
Plymouth Argyle defender Krisztian Timar insists his confidence levels will not be affected by the horror head injury he suffered on the last day of the season. The 28-year-old admitted to 'feeling tired' but insisted he is raring to get back on the training pitch and is hopeful of being fit for Argyle's opening match of the 2008/09 campaign on August 9. It was originally expected that Timar, Argyle's player-of-the-year, would be out of action for up to five months, but that timescale has been slashed to as little as 12 to 14 weeks. "I am moving on from the injury now," said Timar, "I am simply concentrating on recovering as soon as I can and getting fit as soon as possible. I cannot wait to get back out there playing, although I know I have to take it one step at a time. But once I am fit enough to return to playing, I have no concerns about my confidence and whether or not the injury will affect me. I am hopeful after two months that I will be able to do some running and that I will be able to start the pre-season just like everyone else. Initially it will be running and building up my fitness, but after another four weeks, I want to be able to play in some training matches and really make a push for the start of the season. It is my aim to be fit for the first league game."
Argyle are reported to be tracking former American soccer star Andy Dorman. Midfielder Dorman, 26, is currently playing for St Mirren, having signed for the Scottish Premier League side last December from New England Revolution. Chester-born Dorman attended Boston University in New England and played his first game for Revolution in 2004. Dorman is said to be attracting the attention of a number of Championship clubs and also Bolton Wanderers
Jermaine Easter has been named by Wales in their squad for friendlies against Iceland in Reykjavik on May 28 and the Netherlands in Rotterdam on June 1. Easter, one of 35 players called up by Wales boss John Toshack, is hoping to add to his seven caps and become a regular in a side that will play their World Cup qualification matches later this year
Peter Halmosi has been left out of the Hungarian national squad at Paul Sturrock's request. Halmosi suffered a knee injury against Watford in March
Krisztian Timar has thanked Argyle fans for all their well-wishes following the serious head injury he suffered at Wolves 11 days ago, and assures them that the injury will not affect his confidence. The Hungarian was forced to undergo a four-hour operation last Friday after suffering multiple fractures to his skull. He is now recovering at his Plymouth home before returning to hospital this weekend to have staples removed from the wound
Paul Sturrock has returned after an intensive few days of scouting for targets to strengthen his squad in time for next season. The result is a dossier on possible candidates which is set to be on the chairman's desk within the next 24 hours. Sturrock said, "I've been very, very busy and I have been on the road looking at players. I'm absolutely exhausted after going to watch so many games in such a short time, but I feel it's been worthwhile and once I've had a meeting with the chairman and spoken to him, I'll start the process of contacting clubs and agents about the players."
Chief executive Michael Dunford has said that season ticket sales so far are roughly on a par with last season, when just under 8,000 were finally sold. Dunford said that season ticket sales so far were encouraging. "It's early days yet, but we're selling plenty of season tickets", he said. "The Early Bird scheme expires on the 16th (Friday) and comparing the situation with last year, we are looking at similar sales. Last season, we sold just under 8,000 in total and by the end of the Early Bird period on Friday, we estimate that we will have sold some 80 per cent of that figure. At the end of the Early Bird scheme, prices will go up by 12 per cent, which has already been announced." Dunford also said that around 30 per cent of the fans who had bought season tickets so far had used the club's new 10-month interest-free credit option. It is not yet clear if match-day ticket prices will be increased and if so, by how much
Paul Connolly has agreed to join Derby County after seven years at Home Park. Connolly will officially move to Pride Park on July 1st on a Bosman transfer when his contract with the Pilgrims ends
Argyle fans have until Friday to purchase season tickets for the 2008-09 campaign at early-purchaser discounted rates. The funding available to Paul Sturrock to replenish his squad will be influenced by the number of supporters who choose to pay in advance to watch the Pilgrims next season. The news on that front is not very encouraging. "Season-tickets are going very slowly, which I find very strange," the Argyle manager said. "We finished in our highest position in the League for 21 years, and we were very competitive for 44 games. All I can say is I'm working very hard with the coaching and scouting staff to try to bring in the quality players that we need to keep us in the same area of the League, or better. We might not do it tomorrow or the next day, but by the start of pre-season training we'll have a squad of players which will be very competent."
Krisztian Timar was released from hospital yesterday afternoon. Argyle are likely to release a statement today on how the operation went once all the medical reports have been gathered, but it is believed all went well
Michal Misiewicz played the second half of Canada U-20’s 1-1 draw with Argentina yesterday
Krisztian Timar has been told he could be ready for a return to action in August, following surgery at the Nuffield Hospital, Derriford yesterday afternoon. It was expected that Timar would be ruled out of action for up to five months but surgeon Paul McArdle and Argyle's medical staff have had further discussions and they now believe he could be back in 12 to 14 weeks. Paul Maxwell said: "Krisztian will need eight weeks' rest, which will take us up to the start of pre-season. Then over the next month to six weeks we will build up his heading, starting with a soft ball. Krisztian will be able to do the same as everybody else in pre-season, apart from playing in the games. He will have to wear some head protection, though, just to be on the safe side. Fitness-wise, he should be the same as the rest of the lads so there is a possibility he could be ready for the start of the season. But he might need to play one or two games for the reserves just to get him back into the swing of things. We will have a better idea on that nearer the time."
Argyle have offered professional contracts to Lloyd Saxton, Shane White and Damien McCrory but have released Shane Duggan, Toby Davis and Jarred Stevens. Paul Sturrock said: "Being the shatterer of young people's dreams is the part of the job I hate most. I have left it later this time than I normally do because of the first team situation and to make sure I saw enough youth games to make the right decision. I have spoken to the youth coaches and taken on board what they have told me, as well as listening to the advice of my own coaches. The three who have been taken on now have a year to prove to me they are worthy of a longer contract."
Paul Sturrock believes it is now 'the proper time' to enter into talks about extending the contracts of Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar. He said: "I'm not a great believer in negotiating contracts when there are games of football to be played. Now there are not any more games, it's the proper time to sit down and re-negotiate. We would like to re-negotiate with both of those players and it's something that we are going to get right into, starting now." Timar should have surgery by tomorrow at the latest and Sturrock added: "Krisztian looks as though he has got a long-term injury. He was going to be playing for Hungary later this month and that has been taken away from him now. But I think he will benefit from the rest and we will know in due course how long he's going to be out." Halmosi suffered with a knee injury towards the end of the season, and Sturrock believes it is important he rests over the summer. He said: "I think we saw that being a factor in the last three or four games Peter played for us. Obviously, he has picked up niggling knocks as well, and he seems to have not been able to get rid of anything for the last couple of months. He's really struggling with these problems, so we will be in discussions with him and the Hungarian national team about his situation. That will be done in the next couple of days." Sturrock insisted that rest, not surgery, would be the best cure for Halmosi's knee trouble. He said: "His knee has a lot of old injuries in there, which he has played with for a long time. Nothing is going to change that. As for the knee injury he had at the end of the season, it's only time which will heal it."
Argyle's six second-year apprentices should find out today whether they will be offered professional contracts. Shane White, Lloyd Saxton, Shane Duggan, Damien McCrory, Toby Davis and Jarred Stevens will be told their fate by Paul Sturrock, who admitted it had been difficult to make decisions on the apprentices for a number of reasons. He said: "I made a conscious decision that I wouldn't release a player unless I had seen him half-a-dozen times, and I have near enough got to that stage. I wanted to be at least able to say that I had seen them a certain amount of times. I have made my decision now and if the wait has been a hindrance to the boys, I can only apologise to them. It has been a bit longer than I would have liked, but I hope they understand the reasons I wanted to do it this way."
Michal Misiewicz has been named in Canada's squad for an under-20 friendly international against Argentina on May 11th
Krisztian Timar will have surgery within the next two days to repair multiple fractures to his skull and should all go according to plan, he will be allowed to return to Hungary at the end of next week to recuperate over the summer. However, he will not be able to head a football for up to five months, meaning he will miss the start of next season. Paul Maxwell said: "Everything should be straightforward, but Krisztian has got many fractures in his skull. There are also a couple in and around his left eye and his nose so, safe to say, he has had a fair old whack. The surgeon is one of the best in the country and he will do the operation tomorrow or Saturday. Then, all being well, he can go back to Hungary and have a good six weeks over there and just chill out. Obviously, Krisztian is concerned about the surgery - as anybody would be. It's not a nice thing, but he knows he has got to get it done. You are probably looking at five months before he can start heading a ball. I have spoken to the gaffer and told him Krisztian will be fine to do pre-season at the start of July. We will get him some sort of head protection which he can wear. The only things he won't be able to do in pre-season are heading the ball and certain aspects where there is any risk of physical contact. Apart from that, he should be fine to do what everybody else does. As I have told him, it's not like having an injured knee where you can't do the fitness work in pre-season that the other players can do. It's not a nice thing to have happened to Krisztian and it's a bad injury, but, on the positive side, it could have been far worse. He was given the option of having the operation done in Hungary but he's more than happy to do it here."
Paul Sturrock has put the ball firmly in Russell Anderson and Gary Teale's court to decide if they want to sign permanently for Argyle. He is hoping both have been impressed sufficiently with their time at Plymouth and will look to extend their careers at Home Park, and said: "Both players had to go back to their clubs because they have got another week to go. I'm hopeful they'll have conversations with their managers while they're up there. I've had a discussion with their management team and obviously had a discussion with the players. But until they have discussions with their management and then talk with their agents, there's nothing more that can be said at this moment in time. I know where I'm going with these players, but it depends on a lot of factors as to whether they'll be here next season." Sturrock praised Anderson for his performance at Wolves last Sunday. "I thought Russell was outstanding against Wolverhampton - he was absolutely excellent," he said. "He has done very, very well here, because obviously he had been injured a long time at Sunderland. There has been very few games when you could point a finger at any mistakes in games that he was involved in. I was really pleased with the standard of performance that he achieved at this football club. Gary Teale is a different kettle of fish because he's a winger - they're either hot, cold or indifferent. Gary's problem was on the injury front in that he kept picking up wee strains. That meant he couldn't get a consistent run in the team. But there were a couple of time when the people saw the real Gary Teale. If you could get that consistently, then you've got a good player on your hands."
Paul Sturrock has already seen some players that have got him, in his own words, ‘excited’. Sturrock was at Home Park yesterday in between jetting in and out of the country as he looks at a target pool that he hopes to eventually reduce to 30 players. "That's the idea, anyway" he said. "I would like to think that we will have at least three players lined up for each position we feel needs strengthening - an A, B, C choice. If we don't get our A target then we move on to B and C and if we don't get them then we panic!" Sturrock was in an upbeat mood yesterday and confident that he can unearth some gems, either in this country or abroad in the coming month. He will accompany Andy King to two games over the weekend to cast his eye over two players that have been recommended by his chief scout. "It has been a hectic week. I have watched so many games and so many players names have been chucked at me.," he said. "And I like to see the players once minimum, preferably twice, before I make a decision on them. I have been careering around the country - and out of the country - trying to get to see as many of the players. Over the next few weeks the rest of the leagues will close down because of the European Championship, which means we have got to batter out a few treks. I'm out of the country on Saturday night but then we have got games back here on the Sunday, that's the way it will be now. You know it's in a plane, off a plane, go to the game and then you're back in a plane again. That's the kind of short, sharp time frame I have got because I want to see everybody before I make a decision on which ones I am going to target. There's been a couple of players out with the ones that I have been sent to watch that have excited me. I have put feelers out now to see their availability as well as the ones that have been targeted." Sturrock was quick to dispel rumours that his trips may take him beyond Europe this week, and said: "I have got no need to go to the Far East. At the end there's been a lot of stuff in the papers about all sorts of players in Japan that has filled the back pages here but that's only normal for the time of year it is. Put it this way if I am signing a Japanese player I will be in Japan. There's no way I am bringing players over here without me seeing them. Any player that comes from that side of the world will have to be vetted by me before they are signed." As for the four players that Sturrock has offered new terms to - Mat Doumbe, Nadjim Abdou, Dan Smith and Luke Summerfield - he said: "We have made offers to them. I am very hopeful the four of them fit in to our budget. I will allow them another week. A week for them should be long enough to make a decision whether they are going to go out into the crazy world of football or re-sign here. That will allow me to know how many players I need. If those four don't sign I am going to need an awful lot of players."
Luke McCormick hopes that Argyle have not seen the last of Russell Anderson. He said: "He was tremendous on Sunday, and he's been like that ever since he came in. He's a good influence on the pitch, and he reads the game ever so well. We'd welcome him with open arms, and hopefully the gaffer can pull a few strings in the summer so that he can be one of our players."
Gary Teale has admitted he does not know which club he will be playing for next season. Teale will have talks about his future with Paul Jewell over the next couple of days, but has already spoken to Paul Sturrock about the possibility of a permanent move to Home Park. He said: "I would definitely be interested, but I don't know my circumstances at Derby and what they are thinking about things. I haven't spoken to Paul Jewell yet, but I'm going back there today and I will know more from then on. I spoke to the gaffer last week and he asked me how did I feel about coming down. I have enjoyed my time there and it's just unfortunate that we didn't make the play-offs. We probably should have done, and we have only got ourselves to blame. But it's a great club and there is the potential to try to push for promotion next season." Argyle's draw against Preston in the penultimate home game ended their play-off aspirations, and Teale added: "We were 2-0 up in that game and had we won it we would have gone to Wolves with something to play for. We should also have won both of the home games against Sheffield United and Charlton. But the club finished higher than they did the previous year so that's something to build on again."
Krisztian Timar returned to Plymouth yesterday, and Paul Maxwell said: "He's been discharged and came home with Crudgie. We'll take Kris up to Derriford Hospital in the next couple of days and let the specialists have a good look at him before we decide on what course of action to follow. I think he'll be around for a couple of weeks so that we can monitor his progress, and we'll take it from there. It's not something that can be rushed, though. He will probably need an operation at some stage." The clash left Timar with a dent in his forehead the size of a £2 coin, and saw him bleed heavily from his nose and mouth. However, Maxwell says those symptoms were to be expected, and merely showed that Timar’s body was reacting perfectly to the trauma. "His forehead is like double-glazing, if you like" he added. "The outer part is cracked by the blow, but the inner part - the important bit - is unaffected. The bleeding is normal with a head injury of this type. The sinuses are damaged and this is the result."
Luke McCormick has admitted life at Home Park will not be the same without his best mate Paul Connolly. When Connolly arrived in Plymouth for a trial with Argyle in 2000, it was McCormick who was sent to meet him, and he said: "We have been mates for years and we have been through so much. I met him at the train station the first day he was on trial. I didn't have a clue who he was or what he looked like. Some scrawny Scouser turned up with a shellsuit on and his bag over his back and I took him up to the digs. We shared a lot in common from the start because we were both quite far away from home." Connolly was one of four departing players to be given a rousing send-off by the fans after the Blackpool game, and McCormick said: "It was really nice to see him get such a good reception. He's an absolutely fantastic lad and I wish him all the very best for the future." Another of the players leaving is Paul Wotton - someone who McCormick has a lot of respect for. He said: "I remember being a young lad and watching Paul Wotton as a professional. You have your odd run-in - I think everyone who has played with Paul Wotton has had a run-in with him to be honest - but that makes you into the player you are. You take bits out of people's game and you try to add them to yours. I think if I can show the same determination and passion that Paul Wotton plays with, I think I will be alright."
Russell Anderson is waiting to find out whether he has a future at Sunderland, and said: "I'm going back to Sunderland this week and we will just wait and see what happens. I have really got no idea at all, but I'm sure it will become clearer over the course of the summer. I will have to speak to Sunderland and basically see what they are saying." Anderson admitted he had enjoyed his three months at Argyle. "It has been really good and it has given me games, which I have desperately needed," he said. "I would like to think I have contributed to the team in some way." Argyle ended the season in 10th place, and Anderson added: "The league table doesn't lie. At the end of the season I think you usually end up where you deserve to. It shows we have been a top 10 team this season, but just falling short of being a top six side. Obviously, there has been an improvement from previous years but they will have to try to carry that on next season."
Paul Connolly has admitted leaving Home Park is not easy, but had feared his career would flounder unless he did so. He said: "It's a sad time for me because I have got so many friends in Plymouth, not just at the football club but in and around the city. I'm going to miss them. Argyle have been really good to me and gave me a stepping stone in life. I don't know what I would be doing now if I hadn't come down here as a scruffy 17-year-old from Liverpool. I can only think the worse. But I believe I need to move on so I can further my career. I have been here for eight years and for the last couple of seasons I could feel myself getting stale. I didn't want to stay here for too long and then be remembered for all the wrong reasons. I just decided it was time to leave. I want to experience being at a different football club, at a different training ground and with different team-mates." Connolly was offered a new contract by Argyle in the early part of the season, but it did not come up to his expectations. He was prepared to leave Home Park in the transfer window, so the club could get a fee for him. He said: "I was offered a new contract in October or November, which I wasn't too happy with. It didn't really value my place in the side so I thought, 'okay, I will sit tight and see what happens'. I told the club I wanted to be sold in January, just so they could get a fee for me. It could have been around £150,000 to £200,000. But I had a long chat with the gaffer and the club's directors and, between us, it was sorted out that I would stay for the rest of the season. We were pushing for the play-offs at the time and the gaffer wanted to keep me, rather than sell me for not a lot of money. He thought it would be impossible to replace a good right-back at that stage of the season. He wanted to get service out of me, and I was fine with that. I phoned all the clubs who were interested in me then and told them I would be staying at Argyle until the summer." Connolly was given his Argyle debut by Sturrock and believes the club can continue to progress under him. He said: "What the fans need to do is support Paul Sturrock and stick with him. I'm sure he will bring in the right sort of players. He has done it before and he can do it again. Players come and go - that's part of football these days - but the fans stay the same. If they can turn Home Park back into a fortress I know teams will not enjoy coming down here."
Krisztian Timar was kept under observation in hospital last night after suffering damage to an eye socket and his forehead in the defeat at Wolves. Timar's agent, Sam Stapleton, spent much of last night with Timar, and said: "Kris is likely to need an operation in the next few days. He's in a stable condition after suffering damage to his eye socket and forehead. He was lucky in the fact that it could have been a lot worse. Kris is the sort of player that always gives 100 per cent and won't back out of anything and, sometimes as a result, these things happen in football. He will lose his summer holidays now, but the most important thing for him is that he is back for pre-season. Our thanks go to Maxie and the Plymouth and Wolves staff who helped him at the game and we hope he will make a quick recovery." Russell Anderson had a close up view of Timar's collision with Elokobi and said: "It was a nasty one. I don't think everyone realised the severity of it until we got to see him. It was a clash of heads. The guy has gone to flick the ball on and Krisztian, as ever, is fully committed and has gone to win the header. These things happen. I don't think there was any malice involved. It was just a full-blooded challenge. Timar coughed up blood as he laid on the pitch receiving treatment from Maxwell. It was quite harrowing to see it, to be honest, but Maxie sorted out it nice and quickly. Hopefully, fingers crossed, he will be fine."
Paul Sturrock was already looking forward to next season in the aftermath of the defeat at Wolves. "It would have been easy for us to come here today and just think it's time for holidays," he said. "I was pleased with the players' attitude to the game. They didn't go through the motions. They worked very, very hard. We have released a lot of players and had a lot of injuries, and we were forced on to the back foot; the way Wolves played for the 90 minutes made it very difficult. The tempo was high. Wolves were really up for it for the first half-hour, and we had to handle that. As the game unfolded it, I thought we were going to get away with it. I think we handled that and looked as though we might catch them on the break. I can't think of a save our goalkeeper had in the 90 minutes that he's had to have an incredible save off, which shows that we did our job properly. I'm just a wee bit disappointed with how we kept the ball in the first half. We seemed to give it away willy-nilly. I think we kept it a bit better in the second half. There were some decent performances from the younger players. The way we played today will be something we are going to have to bring into next season because there are a lot of teams who seem to have money and add a lot of players to their squads. So we have got to be fitter and more aware tactically, and I have got to freshen the squad up with new signings."
Peter Halmosi did not play at Molineux yesterday, and Paul Sturrock said: "Peter tweaked his groin on Friday and he was worried he might worsen it so, in the end, we took the decision not to play him." Jermaine Easter started the game but was substituted for Steve MacLean at half-time. Asked about Easter's substitution, Sturrock said: "I just felt the way we were playing we needed somebody that was going to hold the ball up. Jermaine likes to run beyond, and I thought Steve did a very good job at holding the ball up and took us up the football pitch." Argyle's two remaining loan signings, Russell Anderson and Gary Teale, were both involved against Wolves, but Sturrock was non-committal when asked about their futures. He said: "I have had discussions with their clubs and I have had discussions with the players and we will take it from there. I couldn't start Tealey today because he has been out for quite a long time but I thought he did okay when he went on. I'm waiting on word back from their clubs - probably this week." Argyle's four remaining out-of-contract players, Mathias Doumbe, Nadjim Abdou, Luke Summerfield and Dan Smith were all in the squad at Molineux, and Sturrock added: "We have put offers to all of them and they are thinking about it." Sturrock fitted in the game against Wolves between overseas trips to check out potential signings, and whilst he would not divulge his destinations, he admitted he had a busy time coming up. He said: "The next three weeks will be the most hectic because there are so many games going on in Europe. I'm trying to catch up with as many of my targets as possible because we have to bring certain types of players to this football club. There are certain areas we have got to strengthen in our team. I have been away and got late back, and I have been away again and got late back. There is a game on Wednesday which I will take in, and there are some next weekend as well, but I'm not the only one away. The coaching staff are as well, and Kingy was in another country today watching three games."
Paul Sturrock was waiting on news of Krisztian Timar after the defeat at Wolves. Timar was taken to hospital after clashing heads with George Elokobi during the second half of the game. Sturrock said: "We don't know how serious it is. He's been rushed to hospital. It doesn't look good." Early indications were that the centre-back faces a long lay-off but Sturrock said: "It would be very unprofessional for me to try to guess what it is. We'll wait to see what the doctors, the specialists come back with." Sturrock refused to place any blame for the injury on Elokobi, who came to the Argyle dressing-room after the game to request Timar’s mobile phone number. "It looked like an accident to me, to be fair," he said. "It looked as though Kris headed the back of the Wolves' player's head. I think that's what happened. Kris was a wee bit agitated and suffering from something." Sturrock also refused to blame the subsequent reshuffle to his defence for Wolves' winner, and added: "A certain player was told to do a certain job on the boy who scored and another player told him he would take Olofinjana as he came forward, he didn't take him, and Olofinjana finishes up right down the middle. We had handled his runs most of the game. It just shows when a lack of communication or a misunderstanding occurs."
Argyle lost 1-0 at Wolverhampton Wanderers. Argyle: McCormick, Doumbe, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Clark, Abdou, Summerfield, Easter, Fallon, Mackie. Subs – Teale, MacLean, Folly (not used – Larrieu, Smith). Attendance - 26,293
Argyle travel to Wolves in tomorrow’s final game of the season on Sunday and Kevin Summerfield can't wait to see how our young squad members cope with the pressure. "It is an absolute dream game to play in," he said. "It is one of the best stadiums and a lot of pressure on their side. It will be really interesting to see how our youngsters deal with it. I have been to a full Molineux quite a few times and it is a great atmosphere, and that should bring out the best in both teams. To be fair, there is a lot of pressure for us as well because we want to finish the season on a high and take it on from last week. If we finish higher than last year, it shows improvement. It has been at the back of our minds for the last couple of weeks and so it should be. We are looking to play well and whatever we get out of the game is a bonus." Jim Paterson has been ruled out with back trouble but Peter Halmosi and Gary Teale are both fit to play. Dan Smith and Ashley Barnes have also been included in the squad. Summerfield said: "Paterson is really struggling with his back, so his season is over but Peter and Teale are both ok. The 18 that are left, including Barnes and Smith all trained yesterday, and are fine, so that will be the 18 going to Wolves. Dan had a little taste last week, possibly a bit overdue and he has got to show us what he can do, if he gets the chance." The extra spice to the game will be the familiar face of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in the Wolves side, and Summerfield added: "We know all about him but he also knows all about us, although Russell might be different for him. Let's hope he has a bad day, but he has done really well for them, and has probably been the missing link they didn't have over the first part of the season. They were struggling to score goals and anybody who has seen Sylv play knows he is quality. He knows where the goal is, where to position himself in the box and will always score goals. We wish him all the best. He was a terrific player for the short time we had him and it would have been lovely to work with him over a longer period but, unfortunately, that wasn't the case."
It is not clear whether Paul Sturrock will be in the Argyle dug-out at Molineux tomorrow. Sturrock has been checking out potential transfer targets over the past couple of days, and that could continue tomorrow. "His schedule is changing all the time," said Kevin Summerfield. "Paul has got lots of games lined up, but one or two have bitten the dust because of players who are not going to be involved. It's pointless trekking all over Europe if the targets that have been highlighted by Andy King and the other scouts are not playing in the games."
Luke McCormick has set his sights on promotion to the Premier League after signing an extended contract at Argyle. He said: "I'm very pleased to have signed the new contract. The club approached me and I didn't have to think about it for one second. I have come to the stage where I'm really enjoying my football and I feel the club are moving in a positive direction. I want to be part of what's going on at this club, so it was an easy decision. I have been here for a long time and I think the best is still to come from me. I would like to play my part in, hopefully, seeing this club move up into the Premier League. Argyle tied up the future of McCormick before he entered the final 12 months of his previous deal, and he added: "I think the club lost a few players in January they would have preferred to keep, and maybe that spurred them into coming and talking to me. Like I say, it was an easy decision. It's some extra security for myself, and gives me the chance of playing at a very good club for the next two years." Romain Larrieu also signed a new two-year contract and McCormick said: "If you look back, there were times last season, and probably at the start of this season, where you thought 'can the two of us carry on like this?'. But when you look at the bigger picture, it's all about the club. And I'm confident in what I can do. I know Romain has got a lot to offer as well. Hopefully, together we can help this club achieve what we want to achieve." By the time Argyle return for the start of pre-season training, the squad will be radically different, but that prospect that does not concern McCormick. "I think there are exciting times ahead," he said. "The success we had when Paul Sturrock was the manager before was because he built a good core. We had a magnificent team spirit and he created that. I think he knows the kind of players that he needs to create that again. We should all be very excited about what is to come for Plymouth Argyle."
Paul Sturrock has admitted 'one or two players' from the Far East could end up signing for Argyle, following Yasuaki Kagami joining the board of directors. He said: "They have lots of contacts with certain players who are playing in the Far East - it's not just Japan. We understand the criteria to bring them over here is that they have to play in 75 per cent of the internationals for their country. We are looking into that side of it, and I'm sure K&K are as well. It's a relationship that I think will benefit the football club in the long term. But I don't think it's going to make a massive difference all of a sudden." Sturrock met K&K advisor, Tony Campbell, at a board meeting last Thursday, and said: "Tony goes over to Japan for six months of the year. I think a lot of his business interests are between there and here. He has a reasonable grasp of Argyle, so there is a benefit to all that."
Paul Wotton has spoken of his pride at what he achieved during his 13 years at Argyle, and insisted he is excited about making a fresh start. He also revealed there have been a couple of inquires about him from other clubs. "I'm immensely proud of what I have achieved at Plymouth Argyle," he said. "I'm leaving behind good friends and great memories. I'm proud that I can walk around the city with my head held high, knowing I have never let anyone down, on the pitch or on the training ground. I have always given my best, and I don't think you can ask any more of anyone. But I want to emphasise how excited I am by a fresh challenge as well. It's not the end of Paul Wotton. People were saying to me on Saturday, 'Are you going to quit now?' I'm only 30 years old. I do believe a lot of people think I'm older than I am because I have been playing for so long, but I'm 30 and I should be in my prime now. My knee is sound so I have got five or six good football years left in me. It's by no means the end of Paul Wotton. I have got a wonderful, beautiful family and we are all ready to move. It's not going to be a case of staying local. It's not a problem to us and we are so excited by a new challenge." Paul Sturrock admitted he had done 'a lot of soul searching' before deciding not to offer Wotton a new contract, and the midfielder insisted he did not hold any grudges. "The gaffer is going in a new direction," he said. "Paul Sturrock knows what I think of him. I have got nothing bad to say about the man. He has helped me in my career more than any manager. What has happened at Plymouth Argyle has been awesome, but it has finished and as one door closes another one opens. My future is obviously going to be at a new club. I don't know where that is going to be yet, but there has been a little bit of interest already. It will be a case of deciding what is best for myself and my family. The best memory for me at Plymouth Argyle was just playing for the team who I supported as a kid. Obviously, the championships were beyond our wildest dreams. But, for me, every time I played for the team, and especially when I was captain, it was always a very special honour." Wotton described his send-off on Saturday as 'emotional' and added: "I'm glad I didn't just walk away. It was special." However, Wotton wants to concentrate on the future now. He said: "My knee is fine, I'm back playing, I'm fit and I have got bits of interest. Come August 9 I will definitely be kicking off the season with a football club. At the moment, I don't know what level that is going to be, and I don't know who it's going to be with." Asked whether he would relish the prospect of playing against Argyle in the future, he replied: "I would love it."
Argyle under-18s friendly at Liskeard Athletic was cancelled last night due to the poor weather
Lee Hodges is ready for the next chapter in his career following his release by Argyle. He said: "I'm not ready to finish yet and I'm looking forward to seeing what is around the corner. I still think I have got a lot to offer. Where? I don't know. I haven't spoken to anyone yet. But, hopefully, I will be playing next season." Asked whether he was prepared to move away from the South West, Hodges replied: "We are settled here, but a job is a job and you just have to get on with it. If I could stay I would, but we will wait and see what comes in and then I will take it from there." Hodges believes it will take substantial investment for Argyle to make a serious push for the Premier League. He said: "If they chuck a bit of money at it, who knows what could happen. I can't really see it without spending quite a bit. I think they are going to need to get some experience in for next season. But I will always look out for their results and if I'm still living down here, hopefully, they might give me a spare ticket to come and watch now and again." Hodges’ first appearance in his second spell with Argyle was as a triallist in a friendly at Bridgwater Town in August 2001, and he said: "I left Reading and had nothing in the summer, and then the move to Plymouth came about. To have had seven years here, and to have enjoyed it so much, has been good. I remember playing in that friendly. Before I had got off the pitch Paul Sturrock was offering me a contract. That wasn't bad because we had just had our first child, so that helped." Hodges spent one month on loan at Home Park from Tottenham Hotspur in 1992/93, but on his return found the club at a low ebb. He said: "My first game was at Hull and we drew 0-0, and everybody was going crazy in the changing room afterwards. They were jumping around and I said, 'We have just drawn 0-0 at Hull'. And they went, 'No, no, this is brilliant, we don't get any points away from home'. I did think for a minute, 'What have I joined?' But now, seven years later, we have just missed out on a play-off place for the Premier League. In only a few seasons, this club has got much bigger. It has been very pleasing to be part of it." Hodges’ highlights of his time at Home Park were the two title-winning seasons of 2001/02 and 2003/04, and he added: "It was fantastic to be involved in the two championships, and playing a major part. I was involved in most of the games in those two seasons, and that was really enjoyable." Hodges also takes a lot of pride from the fact that he played in every position for Argyle, from striker to goalkeeper. He said: "To play every position for the club is an achievement in itself. I'm sure there are not too many players who can say they have done that. It also means a lot to me that the managers had the confidence to put me in all those places as well." It was not all good times for Hodges as he faced the prospect of retirement because of a persistent back injury that showed no signs of improving. He said: "The back injury was probably the one bad side to my time at the club. I was very close to retiring. I wondered if it was ever going to heal. We had one last chance so we went down this particular route and it worked. Then I just had to get back into the swing of things again because you do pick up little niggles now and again. This season I haven't been injured at all. I was out for a week with a cold and I had a sore Achilles for a day, but that was about it, really."
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