A Round-up of Argyle News
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David Friio, Steve Adams and Jason Bent should all be available for next Saturdays friendly against Torquay and then the trip to Swindon but will face a fight to displace either Lee Hodges or Paul Wotton, who were solid in midfield against Colchester. "It will be a nice headache to have," said Paul Sturrock yesterday. The manager has decided to part with goalkeeper Jani Viander, who was released at the weekend without making a first-team appearance during his short-term contract. "Jani needs to play in someone's first team and I couldn't promise him that," Sturrock explained. "There were also a couple of things technically that made him unsuitable for us." Sturrock hopes to find a new 'keeper in time to play in Saturdays friendly and Eugene Kangulungu can expect a run-out too. The manager had trouble finding cover for McCormick before Viander was signed but is more optimistic this time. "With 24-hour call-back, I think we should be able to get somebody on loan over the next two weeks," he said. "I would love to get him before next Saturday and play him in the game, but we will wait and see."
Paul Sturrock was delighted with his player's attitude after the victory over Colchester United. He said: "The early goal obviously helped, but we deservedly led 2-0 at half time and it could have been more with the chances we missed. The whole team did very well and were very competent. Wotton and Hodges were excellent in midfield and prevented Andrews and Fagan getting anything from the game. It was important we got back on the rails on the road and we did that today and worked so hard off the ball. We made sure we did the right things in these windy conditions. We have created several chances in the first half and again in the second period. Luke had one save of any note in the game and except for a bit of an aberration by Coughlan just before half time we looked safe. We created the chances and scored with an early lucky goal but that's football, we created more chances after that." Regarding Luke McCormick’s yellow card Sturrock would not comment on the incident or the referee, "I will not make any comment on the referee, that will go into my report." After the match Luke McCormick revealed what he said to the referee: "I just asked the referee to do the sensible thing."
Jani Viander has left Argyle and Paul Sturrock said: "I will be looking for cover over the next couple of weeks. Viander has now gone so we have no experienced cover."
Argyle win 2-0 at Colchester. Tony Capaldi after 4 minutes and Marino Keith (11) getting the goals. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Hodges, Wotton, Capaldi, Lowndes, Keith. Subs - Evans (not used - Stonebridge, Phillips, Kangulungu, Sturrock). Attendance - 4,332.
Mickey Evans could be recalled by Paul Sturrock for the game at Colchester. "I have always been a horses-for-courses man," said Sturrock. "I have got the option of bringing Mickey back again. I will have to deliberate after I have read the reports on Colchester over the last two games. I'm not going to cut off my nose to spite my face if I feel Mickey would influence the game and it's something that is correct to do. Everybody who played last Saturday has set their stall out and, obviously, would be very disappointed to be taken out of the team now after my comments, so there's a wee bit to weigh up. The two strikers scored a goal each and have influenced the game by doing that. That's something I have to weigh up as well. Obviously, they are busting to play.” Ian Stonebridge and Blair Sturrock both scored for the reserves in their win against Cheltenham Town on Tuesday so Sturrock is spoiled for choice up front. He said: "I thought Stonebridge played very well, and so did Blair, so there are all sorts of permutations. I play to win and if I felt even Stonebridge and Evans was the best pairing to start with I wouldn't hesitate. I really need to know what kind of midfield players we are going to have to determine what kind of strikers we are going to have." Steve Adams and Jason Bent are both '50-50' for the game. Adams has a bruised foot, although X-rays have shown there is no fracture, and Bent has a knee injury. Both were having fitness tests this afternoon. Paul Sturrock said: "It's 50-50 whether Stevie and Jason Bent will be fit for tomorrow. Stevie had an X-ray this week and that has shown no fracture. There is severe bruising in there. He keeps getting kicked on the same spot and it's affecting him. There is a pain every time he goes to pass the ball or when he goes into a tackle. It's very much on bruised bone, which can take a long time to settle down. Jason has a tightness in his knee and it's causing him concern when he kicks the ball. With David being out, it's an area we will have a problem in but people will be chucked in there and they will get on with it. Paul Wotton did very well in the midfield role on Tuesday. He was put in there to get a wee run-out because David is out and Stevie and Jason are both doubtful. It has given us options. He knows how to play the position and will bring an enthusiasm and workrate to the game if called upon. I have talked to him already and he mentioned he would have no problems about playing anywhere - not just midfield."
Paul Sturrock admits he is desperate to end his wait for a positive result at Colchester. He said: "We were second best to everything on the night of the League Cup game at Colchester and there are players who will be playing on Saturday that should want to put that right. Ever since I have been here I don't think we have done well there. It is one of those places where if you are not up to the pace from the start you will struggle. I know it will be an up-for-it kind of match, like QPR was for us, only this time we have got to make sure we are up for it from the start."
Argyle are staging a race night at the Marquee to be attended by the Argyle squad on December 2 at 7.00pm. Tickets are £5 plus VAT from Andy Budge at the commercial department on 01752 302204
Martin Phillips has been told he will have to be patient for a first-team recall. Paul Sturrock said the 27-year-old was 'busting to play' after an eight-month absence with a long-term groin problem. Sturrock admitted: "People have finished up ahead of him in the pecking order and he has just got to fight his way back in. I feel Buster is a more influential player on the right than he is on the left. He has been excellent there. But it's difficult because Chuck has been very influential on the right this season." Sturrock admitted he had considered sending Phillips out on loan so he could get some first-team football but decided against that because he was worried that would leave his squad short on numbers. “I think Buster would be appreciative of playing first-team football, and so would I," said Sturrock. "The problem is we could be without Buster for four weeks and not be able to bring him back if we were to have injuries or suspensions. If call-backs were allowed in the first month of loans I would have done it already. Instead of him playing five or six reserve games I would have had him playing five or six first team games somewhere. It's about realising the situation we are in, but there will come a time when Buster will influence games again. To be fair to him, he's working very hard to get himself back into top shape and he's ready for a game. But, as I have said, there are other people who have influenced games for us in the same position." Sturrock seems unlikely to reconsider his decision to allow Phillips to leave on loan. "We have got a lot of games over Christmas and New Year, which is just around the corner, and I have got to watch the size of my squad," he said
Argyle's reserves won 2-1 at Cheltenham Town. The goals were scored by Ian Stonebridge and Blair Sturrock. Paul Sturrock was impressed with the side's performance and said: "They displayed a good attitude and played very well. We gave away a silly penalty and should have scored more goals, particularly in the first half, but overall I was very pleased. Paul Wotton knew he needed a game and did very well in midfield but I can't single any one player out, they played very well as a team." Argyle: Viander; O'Sullivan, Wotton, Villis, Worrell, Phillips, Sawyer, Kangulungu, Dickson, Sturrock, Stonebridge. Subs -Yetton (not used - Schofield, Watkins, Martin)
Argyle will play Ilfracombe in the second round of the St Lukes Bowl. The game will take place at Barnstaple on December 15, kick off 7.30pm
Lee Hodges is determined to make the most of his return to the Argyle starting line-up. He said: "The boys have been doing brilliant and it was hard to break back into the team. David's suspension gave me the opportunity to get back in. It didn't go very well last week, I don't think we battled as a team but we had a hard week on the training ground and I think it paid off on Saturday. I'm really enjoying playing in the centre of midfield. It will be hard competition once David is back. He was flying and scoring lots of goals, and Steve is a great person to have in there. We will have to see what happens when David is back but, at the moment, I'm really enjoying my football." Hodges has played in defence, midfield and attack for Argyle. "I just want to play in the team, so wherever the boss wants to play me it's not a problem," said Hodges. "All I can do is get on with it and give it my best shot. I think being versatile is a drawback sometimes, but the gaffer here takes it as a positive. If he needs me at any opportunity he's not afraid to put me in so all I can do is try to repay him by giving it my all."
Paul Sturrock thinks Eugene Kangulungu could turn out to be ‘another David Friio’. Kangulungu has been converted from a defender into a midfielder since he joined Argyle on a short-term contract and will get another chance to prove himself on Tuesday, when Argyle's reserves play Cheltenham. "Eugene’s desperate to play and, to be fair, he’s technically a good player,” said Sturrock. “We’ve converted him to midfield, and he’s never looked out of place any time we’ve done any training. We don’t know whether we’ve got another Friio type player in the making. He’ll be given every opportunity until the end of his contract to impress me, then we’ll have to decide what to do.” The side will also include some of the players omitted from the team for Saturday’s 2-0 victory. Sturrock said: “Worrell will play left-back, Blair will play his half a game, Stoney will play, Eugene will play in midfield again, Buster will get another run-out and Jani Viander is another one." Sturrock also revealed that he had been approached by some of the dropped players. “I’m very pleased with their reaction,” he said. “I’m delighted they came to see me. It shows you how caring they are. They are up for the challenge as far as getting back into the team is concerned. It has been a very positive approach. They are disappointed, quite rightly, after a fantastic run, but they are appreciative of the situation that arose. They are all aware now we are a squad. That was overemphasised in my talks on Saturday. We have a squad here, not a team.”
Steve Adams was due for a hospital appointment on Monday afternoon after aggravating his foot injury on Saturday and both Jason Bent and Peter Gilbert are injury worries. Paul Sturrock said: “Stevie has gone off to have a precautionary x-ray this afternoon. He had an x-ray last Thursday, which was okay, but he seems to be having pain in that foot and we’re just having a look in case all that’s done on it has caused a stress fracture. Fingers crossed it hasn’t. He’s walking on it, but very, very tentatively. It’s a real worry to us. He was caught on the foot at Wycombe, then he had an Achilles problem that kept him out, but it’s not that. It was studs on bare bone. Jason’s knee’s still giving him bother. It’s a problem. He won’t make the reserve game and Gilbert walked out of training this morning with a tight hamstring.”
Argyle have slashed ticket prices for the Westcountry derby friendly against Torquay on December 6th, and, as an extra special Christmas bonus for supporters, will hold a free prize draw open to everyone at the game. The lucky winner will be guaranteed a pair of tickets for Argyle’s visit to Bournemouth on Boxing Day. Everyone who buys a ticket for the Torquay game will automatically be entered into the draw. Prices for the game are, £8 for adults, £4 for concessions and £1 for children – and are available now from the ticket-office. Season-tickets are not valid for the match
Green Centenary Mid-season Memberships, are on sale now and offer supporters the same benefits as full members, including priority ticketing for away matches. The price of the membership, which is valid from the December 28th home fixture against Brentford, means that fans will get 12 matches for the price of nine. Full prices: Seating – adults £135, concession £90, junior £35; terrace - adults £108, concession £90, junior £35. Mid-season Tangerine Memberships, which guarantee members six matches, are also available, price £90
Argyle may not be able to field an unchanged team at Colchester on Saturday because Steve Adams suffered what may be a repeat of the foot injury which kept him out for three games earlier this month. "We'll just have to wait and see how severe it is," Paul Sturrock said. "I thought Steve and Lee Hodges had excellent games in midfield on Saturday. They worked very hard in there and did everything we asked of them," he added
Paul Sturrock today confirmed that Jason Bent had not been considered for selection on Saturday because of tendonitis in one of his knees
Nathan Lowndes admitted things had not gone according to plan for him since he moved to Argyle. "It has been extremely frustrating to be honest," he said. "I didn't envisage it being like this, but I think I have dug in and shown my true character. I haven't complained. I have just got on with it and I have taken my chances when they have come along, which have been few and far between. It's a long time since I started in the league and I was just glad I got a goal when I got my chance. I didn't know until my name was read out before the game that I was playing. I thought I maybe had a chance but you are never sure with the gaffer what his thoughts are. Me and Marino have played together before, at Livingston and now here. Although we haven't played a lot together I think we understand each other's games and I felt we paired up quite well." Lowndes scored Argyle's second goal in the win over Hartlepool. "A few of the goals I have scored in the past have been like that so I was quite confident that I would try to hit a corner and I managed to do that. I know Dave Norris was screaming at me and I think I would have got a bit more screaming at had I missed, but luckily it went in. The gaffer told us 'go in and take your chance' so hopefully I have done enough."
After the victory over Hartlepool Paul Sturrock threw down a challenge to the players he dropped. “The challenge was there for some of them to come in and have their chance,” he said, “and every one of them had very good performances. It makes it more difficult for me to select teams now, and that’s how it should be. I’ve set out the stall as far as opportunities for players go. It’s now up to the other ones who are on the periphery to do exactly the same as them and get back in again. Competition for places will benefit us. It’s refreshed and given vigour to the squad. Now, the squad knows they are all capable of playing in the team and there should be an edge to training, with everyone wanting to play in the team. I’ve had very sleepless nights all week because, obviously, this team’s done exceptionally well but it had to be done – we had to freshen things up. I think we got the verve and exuberance you saw in the second half because the players coming in wanted to do well. It’s worked out the right way and hopefully we can go on to the next two games with confidence.” Sturrock felt his two forwards improved as the game went on. He said: “Dan missed a snip early on which I think would have eased our woes, but he came up with a bit of quality, and Nath’s got that in his armoury - he carries that threat when he gets facing the goals. The problem with Nath is his linkage. You saw that today – he lets himself down with his final pass at times. I didn’t think we linked up enough with them in the first half - I think we were a bit disjointed - but, in the second half, I think both of them got to grips with it, got the ball down, and linked the rest of the team up. I thought Capaldi, who I didn’t see at all in the first half, all of a sudden came alive in the second half. I think it’s because we were able to shout to him – I’ll need to go and sit over the other side in the first half – and he and Gilbert dictated a lot of what happened in the second half.”
Argyle beat Hartlepool 2-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Marino Keith in the 45th minute and Nathan Lowndes (48). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Coughlan, Aljofree, Gilbert, Norris, Adams, Hodges, Capaldi, Keith, Lowndes. Subs - Wotton, Stonebridge, Sturrock (not used - Phillips, Kangulungu). Attendance - 9,000.
Paul Sturrock has admitted he regrets some of the comments he made after last weeks game. He said: "I don't like talking about individual players and that was probably the thing that annoyed me the most. I did bring a name to the table, which I regret and don't like doing. There were several players who let themselves down badly last Saturday." Sturrock added: "I said at the time, and I still believe this, that Mickey has not played to the standards I would expect of him over the last two or three games. Let's hope the running he does in the next couple of weeks will put an edge to him as far as fitness is concerned to get him back to that. Anybody who has watched Plymouth Argyle this season will have said one thing about Mickey, that his fitness has been miles better than it has ever been. I feel Mickey's fitness hasn't been of the same standard over the last two or three weeks."
Nathan Lowndes is set to make his first league start of the season against Hartlepool tomorrow. He has impressed for the reserves in recent weeks and Paul Sturrock is ready to reward him. Sturrock said: "Nathan has a style of play that I would like to change and that has been the problem with him. The other night he had a first half where he held it up and linked us up. Then, in the second half, he lost the ball continually and his whole play deteriorated because of it. I honestly think Nathan has got to adopt a style of play that is receptive to Argyle. I'm sure Nathan would say that had he been given more opportunities he would have staked a claim, but I have got to see what I want to see. And, obviously, because we have been very successful over the last two seasons it has meant Nathan has had to take a back-seat." Sturrock has not written off Lowndes' chances of becoming a regular in the side. "He has to add things to his game, as Marino Keith has done since he has come here. I think Stonebridge, Blair and Mickey have all adapted to the things I want my strikers to do. If we could put Nathan's natural ability together with the things I want, we would have a very exciting player, but it's not always as easy as that. Sometimes people lose confidence because they are not getting games and their attitude can wane because of that. I think, to be fair, Nathan has been through all that but I have seen a committed Nathan over the last two or three weeks and he has put himself in the frame with his reserve performances."
Paul Sturrock will not be pursuing his interest in Nathan Tyson. "Tyson is basically a very good player - he's an under-20 international," he said. "But to bring him in and play him before one of our strikers would be a slap in the face. I was very pleased with the reserves performance and some of the players who played on Tuesday will be playing on Saturday. My thoughts now, are that it would be very unfair of me to bring a loan player in and not give my squad opportunities. I've decided that if we're going to get out of this wee blip I am going to use my squad to do it. They will be given the opportunity to stake a claim. I will not deviate from my squad and maybe some of the supporters will be surprised by that, but I'd rather let my squad fail, if that's how it happens, and then deliberate on how to strengthen the team. And I don't believe in bringing in a player to cover our backsides for a month with no thought process of bringing him to the football club." Nathan Lowndes, Blair Sturrock and even Stewart Yetton could feature in the squad. "Yetton scored a hat-trick in 45 minutes against Bournemouth," said Sturrock. "He's done very well and is starting to develop, and is getting better and better. But there's a big step-up between reserve football and this division. So, all of a sudden, there's all kinds of permutations."
Paul Sturrock has reinforced the message that the team playing Hartlepool will be greatly changed from last Saturday. "The team will be vastly changed," he said. "I feel I've been a bit too loyal to the players, who've done so well for us, but need taking out of the team. And for all sorts of reasons, I feel our mental approach has changed. It has changed from us wanting to be a good side to thinking we are a good side. That, I believe, has been our problem in the last two or three games. So I feel it is time to spice up the selection and give people the opportunity. And if they grab the opportunity, it will be up to the other players to fight their way back into the team."
Argyle have today launched a new DVD and Video entitled: ‘PAFC 100: Celebrating the Centenary of Professional Football for Plymouth Argyle’. The release is 2 hours long and is available now from the club shop, and through the club’s website, price £15.99 for the video and £17.99 for the DVD
Tickets for Argyle's away game at Swindon Town on December 13th go on sale tomorrow. Prices are: Covered Stand - Adults £19, O.A.P/Students £12, Under-16 £6. Uncovered Stand - £13, £10 (just OAP) and £7. Green members can buy from November 20th, Tangerine Members from November 26th, White Members from November 29th and the tickets will be on general sale from December 2nd
Tickets for the game at Bournemouth on Boxing Day will be available from November 26th. Only a small amount of tickets are available and so will be sold on a one-per-member basis. Tickets cost: Adults £15, O.A.P £7, Under-18 £5. Green members can buy from November 26th, Tangerine Members from December 3rd, White Members from December 5th and the tickets will be on general sale from December 8th. Some tickets are available in a reserved family seating area - these are only sold to adults with children under 16 years of age. The maximum number of adults per child is 2 and there is no limit on number of children
Argyle face competition from Rotherham for the loan signing of Nathan Tyson. Ronnie Moore is on Tyson's trail, and he hopes to take him and his Reading team-mate Kevin Watson to the South Yorkshire club. Moore said: "I have spoken to Steve Coppell and both players are available on either a loan deal or a permanent move. It is whether they want to come here or not. It is not a dead duck though and we will be making plenty more phone calls within the next few days."
Kevin Summerfield was pleased with the reserves performance against Bournemouth and in particular, Stewart Yetton. He said: "We know what Stewart can do and he has improved a lot this season. His goalscoring has never been a problem and this year he has taken his opportunities well in the reserves and he has done his cause no harm tonight. Eugene Kangulungu did very well and had a very good game but he was just one of 11 players who all did really well. The game was played at a very good pace and they all worked hard and played really good football.”
Argyles reserves beat Bournemouth 6-0 at Home Park. The goals were scored by Eugene Kangulungu (30, 44), Nathan Lowndes (49) and a second half Stuart Yetton hat-trick (54, 75, 80). Argyle: Viander, Connolly, Villis, Aljofree, Sawyer, Phillips, Capaldi, Kangulungu, Dickson, Lowndes, Sturrock. Subs - Yetton (not used - Schofield, Coxon, Entwisle, Trudgian)
Argyle are reported to be trying to arrange a friendly, possibly with Torquay United, on December 6th, as neither club will be involved in the FA Cup
Jason Bent made his 32nd appearance for Canada in their 3-0 loss to the Republic of Ireland
Paul Sturrock has insisted he will not rush into making any panic signings. He said: "I will only strengthen the squad if the people I want to bring to the football club are there. I'm not going to panic, all of a sudden, over the three points we have lost at QPR. What we have got to do is get back on the rails with a win. That's our job at home to Hartlepool next Saturday."
Graham Coughlan offered no excuses for Saturdays defeat. "I thought we were poor," he said. "As a man, every individual lost their battle. We should have been experienced enough to know what we were going to get. It just looks as if we were naive today. They got a little bit of luck with their goal but I felt they were on top in the first half. They pinned us back and we struggled to get out. We did have one or two chances in the first half to sneak a goal, and if we had done that it might have been a different game. But, to be fair, we got turned over well and truly. The better team won. They deserved it. We got what we deserved out of the game - absolutely nothing." Coughlan added: "The fans were brilliant. Even when we were losing 3-0 they were still singing and getting behind us. We really appreciate their support."
Paul Sturrock promised “many, many changes” for next Saturday’s home game against Hartlepool. Sturrock was upset with his players’ commitment during the 3-0 defeat at Loftus Road, calling the difference between the two promotion contenders 'men and boys.' “QPR were streets ahead of us as far as attitude and work-rate was concerned,” he said, “and, at the end of the day, they got their just rewards. The entire tempo of the game was decided by QPR and we never really looked like winning the game. Every tackle that needed to be won was won by QPR. There was one team that wanted to win and one that didn’t want to lose. I thought they were fantastic today – if they play like that every week, they will definitely go up. They made it happen; they were up for it all game. We were second-best all day.” Sturrock also said that it was time his players returned to the style of football that had taken them to the top of the table. “I think the problem is here,” he said, tapping his head. “We’re trying to play first, rather than remembering what we are good at. I can assure you there will be many, many changes for the game next Saturday. This team has had plenty of chances to get back on track. Certain things are happening with individual players and they will pay with their places. There are players on the sidelines that are knocking on the door. Lee Hodges was one of our successes on the day and Steve Adams got through the game so we're quite happy with that. He'll be better for that. However, Mickey Evans didn't get himself in the game. I hope he's disappointed with his performance, because I was very disappointed in his performance. I feel that he's gone right off the boil these last two or three games. I think he would have been dropped next Saturday if he hadn't been suspended, so maybe the rest will do him good. Nathan Lowndes did very well when he came on too. He showed an appetite, so maybe he merits selection next week. There are people waiting on the sidelines who can now expect to get a game. I can assure you that there will be many, many changes for next Saturday."
Argyle lose 3-0 at Queens Park Rangers. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Bent, Adams, Hodges, Norris, Evans, Stonebridge. Subs - Keith, Lowndes (not used - Capaldi, Aljofree, Phillips). Attendance - 17,049..
It has been reported that David Graham's proposed transfer to Argyle fell through over personal terms. Argyle and Torquay are believed to have agreed a transfer fee, but the move collapsed because of Graham's wage demands. Graham, who met Paul Sturrock and Paul Stapleton on Thursday, signed a new, improved contract with Torquay earlier this year, which has committed him to the club until June 2005. It has reportedly made him one of the highest paid players in the third division. Argyle are understood to have offered a contract until the summer of 2006 but the striker would have had to take a pay-cut
Paul Sturrock has confirmed his interest in Nathan Tyson, a player that he tried, but failed, to sign on loan from Reading in 2001. "I do feel there are a couple of areas in the team that have a wee gap in them at this minute in time. All the clubs we have approached have said they will think about it and get back to us, so that's where are at." Mickey Evans will be suspended for the home game against Hartlepool United next Saturday but Sturrock insisted that was not the reason why he had taken an interest in Tyson. "I'm very comfortable with the strikers I have got that they will fill that gap," he said. "The search goes on, as normal, as far as strengthening the squad is concerned. A couple of players that I have been interested in, long-term, have become available, on loan first, so we are looking into all areas of the team."
Darlington are believed to have made an unsuccessful attempt to take Nathan Lowndes on loan
Paul Sturrock has admitted an interest in Nathan Tyson but declined to comment on conjecture linking him with David Graham. “There is no comment to be made on transfer speculation,” said Sturrock. “We have mooted an interest in Tyson, as we have mooted an interest in several players. That’s as far as it’s gone. He is one of several players we have thought about taking on loan. I feel that there’s a couple of areas in the team that have a wee gap in it at the moment. All the clubs have said they will think about it and get back to us. The search goes on, as normal, as far as strengthening the squad is concerned.” Torquay chairman Mike Bateson, however, confirmed that Graham has had talks with Argyle. He said, "David has a clause in his contract that allows him to talk to clubs in a higher division if they make an approach. Argyle asked if they could talk to him and this they did. After the talks it was decided not to pursue the matter and David stays with us". He would not comment on whether a transfer fee had been agreed but it is known that Graham is valued in six-figures. Gulls manager Leroy Rosenior said today, "Of course I’m pleased that David is staying but because he’s a good player we will probably lose him at some stage to a bigger club. In the meantime we need to get him banging those goals in!"
Steve Adams returned to training today as he tried to prove that he should play in tomorrow's game with QPR. "Steve will have a late fitness test but we will take no chances on him," said Paul Sturrock. "We have got too many big games coming up. The medical team and myself will be having a chat with him about it. I think it's too easy to say that we have started conceding goals with Stevie out of the team. He played in a lot of games at the start of the season when we lost goals as well. But, to be fair, his form has been excellent and him and Friio have put a great partnership together over the last five or six games. He has been a miss, as far as that's concerned, but I think there have been other contributing factors to the results of the last two or three games." Sturrock was confident Argyle could overcome the absence of the suspended Friio. "He's an influential player we are going to miss, I don't think there are any ifs, buts and maybes about that. But if you look at QPR at this minute, there are influential players not in their team, so its swings and roundabouts. That's how football is and it's how you react to these kind of scenarios. If Stevie doesn't make it injury-wise and with David suspended, it's up to the people who come into the side to make sure those two have the long wait on the sidelines."
Argyle are believed to be holding transfer talks with Torquay United over striker David Graham and have also been linked with a possible loan move for Reading striker Nathan Tyson. A deal for Graham could involve Argyle defender Brian McGlinchey, who has been on loan at Plainmoor for the past two months and has just extended this into a third month. Paul Sturrock said: “Brian wants to play first-team football, rather than reserve football, at this juncture.”
David Friio has backed his team-mates to beat Queens Park Rangers in Saturday's game. He said: "We have got a good team spirit and we play good football. Even without me, I think they will get a result, I'm really confident about that. It's a big game and everybody will be up for it, so to watch it from the stands is not the best way. Whoever comes in must show what they can do and it's up to them to grab their chance." Friio said last Friday that he was confident his red card against Oldham would be rescinded but now believes that had he taken 'a dive' the first time he was struck by Sheridan he would not have been suspended. He said: "I was really disappointed when the result came out because we were very confident. Now I think I should have cheated. That's what they asked me to do. When I received the first headbutt I should have gone on the floor and then I would not have been suspended, but that's not my vision of football. So I stood still and received another headbutt, and then I pushed him so I would not receive a third one. As a result, I'm out for three games."
Argyle will be staging a Ladies Day on 22nd of November at Home Park, when Argyle play Hartlepool United. In order to encourage female fans to attend and to raise awareness of female participation in football, Argyle will be offering tickets to female fans. Any ladies groups interested should contact the ticket office on 01752 562562. On Ladies Day, the Argyle Ladies team will be presented with a kit and will be training at half-time
Paul Sturrock was in relaxed mood when he collected his Manager of the Month award yesterday and chairman Paul Stapleton played down the speculation surrounding the Argyle boss. Stapleton said: "We definitely haven't heard any contact from anybody, it's just people speculating, Paul is very happy with what's going on at the football club." Sturrock invited all the Argyle players and coaching staff to the lunch and insisted they deserved to take their share of the credit. "This award is given to an individual but really it's a team effort," he said. "That's why I wanted the players and the coaching staff to come along because I think they all merit the accolade. I'm very appreciative of everybody at Argyle for what they have done. It's not just about the manager."
Argyle's reserves win 5-1 against Cheltenham Town at Home Park. Lee Hodges scored twice, the other goals coming from Nathan Lowndes, Marcus Martin and Hasney Aljofree. Argyle: Viander, Connolly, Villis, Aljofree, Kangulungu, Phillips, Martin, Hodges, Capaldi, Lowndes, Sturrock. Subs - Yetton, O'Sullivan (not used - Schofield, Sawyer, Watkins)
David Friio's appeal against his sending-off against Oldham has been rejected and he will miss the next three games. Paul Sturrock said: "We're obviously very disappointed with the scenario. There's no comeback, so we've got to get on with it. " Phill Gill, who had been instrumental in preparing the appeal, said: "We felt strongly that David didn't have a case to answer, but the FA chose to see it differently."
Steve Adams is unlikely to be fit for the game at QPR. "Stevie is building up his training. I don't know whether Saturday will come too quickly for him, or not." said Paul Sturrock. "It's a difficult time coming up, but we will see if our squad can handle this difficult time. It gives everybody the opportunity to stake a claim. We've got three difficult games, three teams that are right up in our area of the league. It is important we come away from those three games with pointage. They are all big games, but QPR is just three points - three points that we want to win and will go all out to win. We have got to get back on the rails with a good performance and a good result."
Blair Sturrock has been given the go-ahead to play for Argyle's reserves against Cheltenham tonight, following a further visit to a specialist about his groin problem. Paul Sturrock said: "We've had the specialist report back and there are certain aspects he has got to work on. The thing now with Blair is that he's been 10 weeks on the periphery and he loses match-fitness every day that he hasn't been able to play: if he can play 20 minutes for the first team, maybe he can play 45 minutes for the reserves, which will benefit his match-fitness. He should struggle, but will feel the benefit after he's played."
Tickets are now on sale for Argyle’s game at Colchester. The game is all-ticket and there are 650 terrace (£13 adults, £7 senior citizens, students and under-16s) and 375 standing (£16;£9) tickets available. Tickets will be available to Green Members until November 18th, to Tangerine Members on the 19th and 20th, and to White Members on the 21st. They will then go on general sale on November 22nd
Paul Sturrock has played down speculation linking him with Crystal Palace and Leeds United, distancing himself from either position. “I’ve no comment to make,” he said. “It’s pure media speculation. I’ve got a job of work to get on with. We’ve just come off two draws and a defeat – I think it’s vitally important the training-ground works gets done and I’d rather concentrate on that. I’m not prepared to discuss surmise. At the end of the day, it just upsets everyone.”
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle will have to learn how to adapt if they are to survive at the top of the division. He said: “What we are totally forgetting about is the respect other teams are giving us now. Other teams are changing formation, varying from what they’ve ever played in any other game in the build-up to playing Argyle. Quite rightly, the management jungle-drums are beating. I’m a great believer that we have got to get back to the things we know we are good at. I just feel that we are not changing our style quickly enough - people are coming out with ways of stopping us and we are not reverting to a style to win that game. We’re on a learning-curve now because people are giving us a respect that we haven’t had for a long time, and I don’t think we’ve really adapted. We’ve kept on to what we know and what has done us quite well. When people have changed to counteract that, we’ve not changed to counteract their change. It’s something we’re trying to do on the training-ground – to make sure that everybody’s switched on to knowing that we play this way if it’s going well, and, if people change to handle us, we change ourselves. Once we get that, we become very dangerous.” Sturrock also feels that media interest in the club has had an effect. “I would never blame any of my players or coaching staff for overconfidence but we haven’t concentrated enough on the things,” he said. “We haven’t been as focused as we’ve been in the past. There’s been a lot going on. I feel that the three days off I gave them was the start of that but, hopefully, the next few months will show the benefit of that decision. I do not feel we’ve been solely focused. The Sheffield Wednesday game, the players were honed in – everybody knew their jobs, knew what they were doing. We haven’t had that since.”
Graham Coughlan and Paul Wotton were both dismayed by Saturdays defeat. Coughlan said: "Everybody in the camp is disappointed. We've created chances, but they've just not gone in for us today. It's not good enough, to be honest, and the boys know that." Paul Wotton added: "We were playing very well in the first half, but in the second half it just went astray. The lads are really down. It would have been nice to have had a Cup run, but the only positive thing is that this defeat hasn't affected our League position. We can put all our efforts into the League now - because we don't have any other choice."
Paul Sturrock put Argyle's FA Cup exit behind him and looked forward to the rest of the season. “We’ve got 30-odd games left to make sure we finish in the top six – minimum,” he said. “We’ve just got to get healthy and get on the training-ground. The good thing now is that we have no more midweek games for a long time to iron out some problems that have reared their ugly head again. We’ve scored six goals in three games, and, if they had all been league matches, we would have had two points. That’s relegation material, but we did miles better today than we did against Oldham and Wycombe and came out with nothing. I’m very disappointed for the fans, and, financially, it’s always nice to have a cup-run, but it means I will just have to muster the troops. Mickey’s suspended now, and maybe David so we will have to use our squad and be ready for a big match. It is a big match – in the space of three games we could be out of all cup competitions and off the top of the league at QPR. It’s strange how football goes. We had a wee spell when we were scoring for fun and didn’t concede goals. It’s mystifying how we’ve gone from a spell when I think we conceded two goals in seven games, to six goals in three. There’s no logical sense to it. People will say Steve being out is the thing of it - with Stevie out of the team, we’ve won one, drawn five and lost two – but that’s too easy to say. You can’t take anything away from Northampton. They worked very hard and, at the end of the day, they got their just deserts. I think everybody was settling for the draw and taking them back down the road again, but Colin has put three forward types on and it’s paid dividends. Fortune favours the brave. We actually played better in the first half today than we did at Port Vale when we were 3-1 up at half-time. That’s football. We’ve just got to get back down the road and get back on the training-ground and remind the players what has got us where we are. My disappointment is what we’ve done when the other team’s got the ball and that’s what’s let us down in the last three games.”
Following todays game Paul Sturrock said, "Teams have been bullying us in the last couple of games. We've been trying to play too much football and overdoing it, which is very unlike us. Teams are taking a very cautious approach against us currently and it's making life very difficult. We've not been defending well on the break and that has cost us. Too many people have been playing first and not thinking about the structure of the team."
Argyle were knocked out of the FA Cup, losing 3-2 at Northampton. The goals were scored by David Friio after 32 minutes and Ian Stonebridge (63). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Bent, Friio, Stonebridge, Evans, Keith. Subs - Hodges, Phillips, Lowndes (not used - Aljofree, Viander). Attendance - 4,385.
Argyle's game against Brighton and Hove Albion on January 31 will be shown live on Sky Sports. The match will now kick off at 5.35pm.
Argyle's under-17's and under-19's games for this weekend have both been cancelled. The U17's away to Cirencester has been cancelled by Cirencester due to illness and the U19's at home to Swindon Town has been cancelled by Swindon due to illness and injury. The U19's game has been re-arranged for 16th January. At present there is no date for the Cirencester game. The current tables and results for both teams can be seen here
David Friio is confident the appeal to overturn his red card will be successful. Argyle have made their case to the Football Association's disciplinary panel, offering video evidence, and are waiting for the verdict. "I'm very confident about the appeal," said Friio. "We have watched the tape and there were two different cameras on opposite sides." Paul Sturrock was more cautious, he said: "We have gone through the procedure and are waiting on word back from the FA, but we have been given no date for that."
David Friio has won the Umbro Isotonic Division Two Player of the Month award. The judging panel said: "David Friio has been simply outstanding during Argyle's rise to the top of the table. His skills have marked him out as a player to watch and he has been a real goalscoring threat with five goals during the month." Friio, who will receive a trophy and a bottle of champagne at a presentation ceremony, was thrilled and said: "I'm really proud to receive this award, but it's because of my team-mates. If I did well it was because of them. It was an unbelievable month. At this level winning games by three or four goals is very unusual. To repeat it is going to be very difficult. We scored a lot of goals and got some good results because we played well, but in the last couple of games we haven't done that. We have got some important games to come against good opposition, first with the FA Cup tie, and after that we have got QPR, Hartlepool and Colchester in the league. We will know a lot more at the end of November about the rest of the season." Paul Sturrock thought Friio was a worthy winner of the accolade. "I'm very pleased for David," he said. "His goals were a catalyst to the results. His general play has been excellent so he definitely deserves the award."
Argyle have now sold 3,300 tickets for the trip to QPR. The initial supply of 3,000 tickets sold out last weekend, and a further 300 restricted-view seats have been snapped up this week. "We're very pleased," Paul Sturrock said. "It's wonderful backing, and hopefully the team will rise to the occasion."
Argyle's reserves lost 2-1 at Yeovil Town, Marcus Martin scoring the goal. Martin Phillips' put in what reserve team manager, Stuart Gibson, said was his 'strongest performance yet', as he continued his comeback and Eugene Kangulungu had a sound game in central defence. Jani Viander put in a decent performance but Gibson said that he looked on occasions short of match practice, particularly with crosses. Argyle: Viander, Connolly, Villis, Kangulungu, Sawyer, Phillips, O'Sullivan, Martin, Dickson, Bulley Yetton. Subs - Trudgian, Watkins (not used: Schofield, Routledge, Entwisle)
Jason Bent will be available for the match at QPR, thanks to the Canadian FA. He has been told that he will only be required to play in the friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin three days later. Paul Sturrock said: “Jason will not be called on for Canada’s Czechoslovakian game, although he will play in Ireland. We’re very thankful to the Canadians. Jason has told them of our circumstances and they have been respective of that.”
The lastest progress report on Steve Adams is encouraging. Paul Sturrock said: “He has a slight wee strainy tear in his calf. He might miss out on Saturday, but hopefully he will be back next week, although we won’t put a timescale on it.”
Paul Sturrock has promised to stamp out the problems which saw Argyle exit the LDV Trophy. “People are not playing to the team structure,” he said. “When teams have come here and shown something different, we haven’t responded. There are agendas out there that will be stamped out. People cannot play the way they want to play; I very much want them to play the way I want them to play. There have been things done in the last two games which are very alien to what I want. Things that we really preach all the time, we have got to the stage where we’re not doing them any more. It defies logic to me that we’ve got our tried and tested, we know what’s been successful, and we don’t go and do it in games. It means people are doing other things. We have several players who have played to a very individual pattern over the last two games, which has meant, it wouldn’t have mattered who you’ve got out, you are going to be disjointed and show no rhythm. There’s people doing things out there that I cannot believe and I can’t put my finger on it, which is bugging me the most.” Sturrock also believes that Argyle are not responding quickly enough to changes in opponents’ playing systems. “We have got to be respective of teams coming, because of what we’ve achieved, to play the way they’ve played, and we have got to come up with certain ways of breaking teams down. We’ve got to appreciate that teams are going to come here and make it very difficult for us, and we have got to have variations on ways to break teams down. Somebody had forgotten to tell Wycombe the game-plan of coming down here, lying down and losing. They changed systems and we should have adopted a different style of play. We should be reading that on the pitch. I did not feel individual players played to the team structure. The team didn’t click on the night. Individuals played very, very individually, instead of teamwise. We’re still unbeaten for a long spell, but it won’t be much longer if individuals don’t understand what has gained us success and keep doing that, we’re going to have problems. We are not thinking defensively as a team; we are thinking offensively all the time. I’m a great believer that defenders defend first and play second; I feel that players are playing first and defending second. Losing an early goal last week and two on Tuesday night means we are not doing the right things.”
Paul Sturrock did not carry out his usual post-match press conference after a dressing room showdown with his players so it was left to Paul Wotton to reflect on the defeat. "The manager's disappointed, and quite rightly so," he said. "I don't think we played well at all. The game was there for the taking. It's very hard when you give teams a 2-0 lead. We did well to come back into it but, from then on, we just seemed to stop and the game fizzled out. Even when they had 10 men we didn't pass the ball with any conviction. I don't think we were up for the battle, and we are out of the cup. I thought there were tackles there to be won and we didn't win them. We didn't win headers. It was not a typical Argyle performance. I don't think we showed a good attitude from the start and if you don't do that, you don't win games. For all the possession we had in extra time we didn't really create anything, we just kept lumping it into the box. We should be able to pass the ball around and I don't think we did that. I don't think we deserved anything, anyway. We can't be too disappointed because we were not up for the fight. It's as simple as that. We have got to be more aggressive and more positive in games."
Argyle lose 4-2 to Wycombe Wanderers on penalties after the match finishes 2-2 after extra time in the LDV Vans Trophy, the goals coming from Graham Coughlan in the 21st minute and Mickey Evans (34). Paul Wotton and Tony Capaldi score their penalties, with Nathan Lowndes and David Friio missing. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Hodges, Bent, Friio, Stonebridge, Evans, Keith. Subs - Lowndes, Capaldi, Norris (not used - Sturrock, Aljofree). Attendance 4,298
David Beresford has left Argyle and joined Tranmere Rovers. An agreement with Argyle to settle the remaining 18 months of his contract was made before he joined up with former manager Brian Little, who had also signed Beresford for Hull City. Paul Sturrock said: "I sat down with Bezzie and we had a good chat, and we both decided that he would benefit from a fresh start. Sometimes in football, things don't work out as you hope, and it's time to draw a line under them. It'll do Bezzie good to get himself playing first-team football. We wish him well."
Hasney Aljofree is hoping for a chance to play after the disappointment at not starting a league game this season. "It seems a long time ago now, but, yes, I was disappointed not to start the season," he said. "But that's not my decision. It's November now and I still haven't started a League game, so obviously I'm frustrated. But I've just got to keep plugging away and hopefully I'll get my chance soon. Any first-team game is obviously a lot more competitive than reserve-team football, so I'd welcome a game in the LDV Trophy. The boys are on a good run in the League and it would be nice to carry on in the Trophy with a good performance and another good win tomorrow." There are likely to be chances in central midfield in the coming weeks due to injuries, suspensions and other absences and Aljofree is a contender to plug the gaps. "I'm not a stranger to that position," he said. "I played there for Bolton. If I'm picked there, I'll give it my best shot. I'm happy to play there, at centre-back or left-back, it's not a problem to me."
Jani Viander is hoping for a first-team chance with Argyle. He said: "I know the team is doing so well, but I will put in my best effort every day when I come in and, hopefully, I will get a chance. At least I will get to play some reserve games to show what I can do. Of course, I want to do my best and become a better footballer while I'm here. I liked the way the reserve team played and I suppose the first team is the same, by playing football, so that attracted me the most. It's a wonderful opportunity to get myself going again and at least play some kind of games, which is what I need now. The morale is high and everybody wants to achieve something this season. They feel there's a real chance to do something special."
Peter Gilbert believes Argyle can combine success in the LDV Trophy with a promotion push. He said: "I don't see why we can't have a good run in the LDV. Winning games breeds confidence. The position we're in, I don't think we can say 'forget about the LDV and concentrate on the league' because if the league doesn't happen then we've got nothing. I think you have just got to go for it, try to win every game, and see what happens from there. I think eight of the top 10 in division two are in the southern section of the LDV draw, so it's going to be hard to get through. If we did it though, it's a final at the Millennium Stadium and it would be the highlight of most of the lads' careers."
Argyle have sold out their entire allocation of 3,000 tickets for the match at QPR
Paul Sturrock has shown his faith in Luke McCormick by saying he will definitely play at Northampton. “I don’t think Luke has done enough yet to merit not being included,” said Sturrock. “I would indicate to Luke that, if he didn’t play tomorrow night, he would start on Saturday. He merits that. It’s important Viander gets some playing time with the back four, but you have to weigh up how important it is for Luke to get a solid game under his belt again. I’m also weighing up whether to blow the cobwebs out again, or just keep sauntering on. There’s a couple of players who need run-outs if they are going to be involved because of this scenario. It means I might have to look at a midfield that's a different shape than normal. There’s a lot to make a decision on. You could ask me about seven players and I would hum and haw with you: Buster, Nathan, Lee Hodges, Tony Capaldi and the goalie all need a game. We’ll be very close to the same team that played on Saturday, the objective is to be in all competitions by the end of this week. Saying that, I would be very confident if I chopped and changed the whole side. I watched today, when the players that played on Saturday played the rest and I tell you what, it was some game for ten minutes. I am very pleased with the attitude of the players that aren’t getting in. Their standards are very, very good.”
Paul Sturrock is to ask Canada not to select Jason Bent for their friendly against the Czech Republic on November 15 so that he is available for the game at Loftus Road against QPR. With Steve Adams injured and David Friio facing a possible three game ban Argyle will be short of midfielders. Argyle cannot insist on Bent not being chosen by Canada, however, Sturrock will try to persuade Canadian officials to let Bent stay with Argyle. He said: "That's something I'm going to have to talk to the Canadians about on Monday. I'm hoping that they're going to respect the situation we're facing. It's going to be bad enough with David Friio out for three games. It's not a nice situation to be in, and we may have to go and sign someone [on loan] to help us through that sticky period."
Steve Adams was expected to find out today the full extent of his Achilles injury after having a scan. Argyle will have a better indication of the seriousness of the injury, and how long he will be out of action, after his hospital visit. Adams was not even close to playing against Oldham and was on crutches, although that was only as a precaution. Paul Maxwell said: "We put him in an aircast, which is the way I treat Achilles injuries. It immobilies him so he gets no movement through the foot while it settles down."
Argyle have asked referee Mark Warren to review David Friios red card. “We feel he has been unjustly done by and that the tape will prove that,” said Paul Sturrock. “Whether the referee accepts that, we’ll have to wait and see. He was apparently sent off for retaliation for a headbutt Sheridan initially gave and if there’s retaliation, we won’t appeal, fair and simple. I honestly believed David merited a yellow card for the tackle. He showed studs and there was definitely an infringement there. I saw nothing that indicated to me that he should have been sent off for violent conduct. The referee saw it differently.” Sturrock also played down suggestions of a bust-up in the tunnel between the two players. “I don’t think there was,” he said. “I think there was a scuffle trying to stop Sheridan chasing Friio down the tunnel. David was well up the tunnel by then but Sheridan wanted afters. It was just people trying to stop him.”
Paul Sturrock felt Argyle were well below par yesterday, as he feared they might be. “The game fell into a pattern where I just couldn’t get a system that would settle us,” he said. “What I expected would happen, happened in the first half. You have got to give full credit to Oldham, if they were 3-1 up at half-time I wouldn’t have argued, but we were very poor; we were second to everything; we didn’t win battles where we should have won them; we were not fluent in any way; the back four had probably one of the poorest halves for a long time. You can’t legislate for people’s standard of performance falling so low below what they would normally generate, but Oldham worked very hard and created a lot of chances. It’s very strange to say but, although we had two very experienced central midfield players, we definitely missed Steve Adams’ influence today. I'm delighted however, that we are top going into a big week with our LDV Vans match on Tuesday and a tricky cup tie on Saturday." Sturrock also had words of comfort for Luke McCormick. “Luke has saved us in many a game before this and that’s his first mistake. It cost us dear but that’s football. I just said to Luke, ‘it’s a learning process, don’t let your head get down’.
Argyle draw 2-2 at home against Oldham Athletic, the goals scored by Paul Wotton after 17 minutes and Mickey Evans (50). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Norris, Bent, Friio, Stonebridge, Evans, Keith. Subs - Capaldi, Lowndes, Sturrock (not used - Aljofree, Hodges). Attendance - 11,205. David Friio is sent off, as are two Oldham players. and Ian De Lar's match report is here
Argyle's under 19's win 1-0 at Cirencester, Stuart Yetton scoring the goal, whilst the under 17's lost 3-1 at home to Bournemouth. Youth tables and results will be updated here
Paul Sturrock reflected on his three years as Argyle manager and insisted: "My job isn't finished yet. I have learned to accept rumours because everytime somebody goes in Scotland, or somebody goes at what you would call a mid-stream team in England, my name is linked to it, but all that doesn't interest me. I have got a job of work here, and I have got a job of work to be finished. I have just got to get on with it. I'm very settled here at the minute, my wife is very settled and the kids have fitted in very well. But if Real Madrid were to come for me tomorrow I would definitely go! I'm commited to doing the job here, at this juncture of my career. There are ambitions at any football club but, at this minute in time, I'm a very happy camper here. Any job of work you do is to improve yourself, and my job is to improve myself as a manager." Sturrock enjoys a close relationship with the Argyle board. "I feel that's an important aspect of football, because at times you have to be singing off the same songsheet," he said. "There's no point in me doing something the board doesn't agree with, or the board does something I don't agree with. We have to get an agreement from everybody before we take the next step. The money aspect of this football club is the key to where Argyle go next. A lot of people will be thinking I should be breaking the bank at this minute, bringing in three or four players, but that doesn't guarantee you winning a league. People have got to be appreciative that we saunter along with the finances." Sturrock believes progress has been made in many areas of the club, but there is still room for improvement. "I don't feel I have got the scholarship scheme running the way I want it," he said. "I think it's something I'm going to work much harder at through the winter. I just feel we are not totally in control of the scholarship scheme, the way I want it, and that would be my next challenge. The second division is a hard league to, all of a sudden, bring youngsters into. We are going to have to work much harder at our younger players, to make sure that we get the one or two coming through."
Argyle have extended David Beresfords loan to Macclesfield Town for a second month
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