A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle won their South Western League fixture against St Austell 2-0 at Bolitho Park last night. The goals were scored by Bojan Djordjic and Toby Davis. Stuart Gibson did not enjoy the game and issued harsh words afterwards. "We had to put up with a lot of intimidation and I hope that this is not going to be the trend from now on," he said. "All credit to sides like Porthleven and Newquay who were fine but tonight was totally unneccessary. If St Austell thought they could get to Bojan by kicking and sledging then they were mistaken as the boy has played against far harder and bigger men than them. We have come into this league to have competitive matches week in and week out but this was beyond competitiveness."
Argyle today completed the signings of Marcel Seip and Cherno Samba. Samba has agreed a two-year contract whilst Seip has a short-term deal until the end of December
Two more apprentices have joined the Argyle youth squad. Lloyd Saxton, from the Potteries, and Damien McCrory, from Limerick in Ireland, signed apprenticeship forms today after impressing Stuart Gibson while on trial at Home Park. Gibson said: "Saxton is a tall goalkeeper with a commanding presence in the penalty area and a safe pair of hands. McCrory, on the other hand, is a tricky left-winger with a fantastic left-foot. His skill on the ball is complemented by a high work-rate around the pitch. Both lads have settled in quickly and become popular members of the group."
Argyle beat Yeovil Town 3-2 in this afternoons reserve fixture at Huish Park. The goals were scored by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Ryan Dickson and Reuben Reid. The Argyle side included French defender Oumar Bakari who has been given a trial on the recommendation of David Friio. Geoff Crudgington said: "We were full value for the first 30 minutes as they weren't in the game at all. But we let our performance drop after that and they scored a great goal just before half-time. It was the same in the second half. We would get on top, only to let them back in again. It was a good team performance, if patchy." Argyle: Clapham, Laird.S, Bakari, Sawyer, Zaaboub, Buzsaky, Summerfield, Gosling, Dickson, Reid, Ebanks-Blake. Subs - Samba (not used - Hopkinson, Adelsbury)
Ian Holloway is not optimistic of making any major signings before the transfer window closes tomorrow. "The window is galloping up like a runaway horse," he said. "It's been very difficult. I think this transfer window is a little bit early for what we want to try to do. After it closes I might have to look at emergency loans, if I can, but it means you can't take anybody from abroad." Holloway has been taking a close interest in a tall Under-21 international striker, who he has declined to name. He had hoped to bring the player to Home Park for a trial before the end of August, but that is not going to happen. "He's not been allowed to come over," Holloway added. "So many people have enquired about him and now his club are going to hold on to him, but that will give us time to watch him before the next transfer window. His club will probably sell him, but they've had loads of calls from people who are bigger than us. They've said he can't come over, but we can go and watch him."
David Norris believes Argyle can be satisfied with their start to the Championship season. He said: "Even though we are into the season, the manager hasn't been here that long and he's still getting his points across of how he wants us to go. We are taking all that on board but, obviously, there is still more to improve on. Overall, I think we can be happy with how it's going. As long as we can kick on from here we will be fine."
Ian Holloway is set to sign both Marcel Seip and Cherno Samba. He said: "Marcel has played 130-140 times in the Dutch First Division for Heerenveen, including in the UEFA Cup, and was prepared to take a lot less than he could have got in Turkey to come to us. He's not the Beast that I'm looking for but, from what I've seen, he looks a good defender. I think he's very good in the air. He will have a chance - until January - to prove that. The length of contract gives me a chance to look at him. What I'm impressed with is that he wants to come here. He wants to play in England and, from what little I have seen of him, he does a lot of things I like. I'm also trying to sign Samba. He will probably have a longer contract than the other fella because I have seen more of him. Cherno is hungry; he's enjoyed being with us so far; and he's added to the team when he's played - every time. He hasn't disappointed us yet." Holloway admits he is taking a chance by recruiting Seip and Samba, as he knows relatively little about them. He added: "They are two players I am taking on short-term contracts to see if I can build on what they've already shown me, which is very little, just what I've seen on the training-ground. They are long-shots, really. I knew Haylesy and I knew Sylvan, but these two haven't come from my scouting network." Meanwhile, Frenchman Sofiene Zaaboub, a left-sided midfielder, will be taking part in tonight's South Western League game against St Austell at Bolitho Park
Ian Holloway does not expect to make any high-profile signings before the transfer window closes on Thursday. He said: "It's very difficult really. I think this transfer window is a little bit early for what we want to try to do. After it closes I might have to look at emergency loans if I can, but it means you can't take anybody from abroad." Two players that Holloway could sign are Marcel Seip and Cherno Samba. Holloway watched Seip play in a practice match on Thursday and was impressed by what he saw. "I liked him," Holloway said. "He's not ideal because he's not 6ft 5in but I thought he was a terrific defender. If I can get it affordable enough for us and not too risky then I would probably do it, based on what I saw the other day. He was only playing against some of our younger players, who aren't like Pericard and Sidibe at Stoke. But I like the way he defends and the way he is on the ball. He's not the biggest but my God, he attacks it well. His track record and how many games he has played is very impressive. Heerenveen are a strong side and he has played 113 times for them in their league and in the UEFA Cup, which is no mean achievement for a 24-year-old. He wasn't fit enough when he was here and he admitted that himself. As it stands, I don't know whether it will happen, but I did quite like him and I normally go with my gut feeling. I have been looking for a while for someone who defends the way I want, which is stepping forward and getting a foot in." Samba has played in Argyle's last two South Western League games, and Holloway said: "I liked everything about him and if I can get him to take what I can give him at the moment, for the look that I have had, I would do it. He was on a lot more money in Spain than I'm going to give him, but he really likes us. He set the world alight the other day with Reuben Reid against Newquay."
If Tony Capaldi is picked by Northern Ireland to face Iceland next weekend he will win his 20th cap, which will equal the record for international appearances by an Argyle player, set by Moses Russell in the 1920's. Should he then play against Spain next week, he will claim sole possession of the club record. "To break any sort of record is fantastic," he said, "especially a record for the most caps at a big club like Plymouth. It will be a fantastic achievement, but I've got to play in both games first. The most important thing will be the results, rather than any individual accolades."
Tony Capaldi and David Norris have both hailed the impact made by Barry Hayles. at Argyle. Capaldi said: "Barry has been brilliant since he has been here and has got himself some goals. It was a great finish for our equaliser. He showed a striker's instincts and put it away really well." Norris had been equally impressed. "He has been magnificent," he said. "I have really enjoyed playing in the same side as him, and he gives you that option with or without the ball. Barry just works so hard and he was in the right place at the right time for us today. You would always fancy him to score from there and, thankfully, he did." Capaldi thought Argyle were much improved against Stoke. He said: "It was probably our best performance of the season. We were unlucky not to have scored a few goals in the first half. Then, from their only chance, they have gone one-nil up, which is always difficult to take. But the boys regrouped at half-time. We had a few more chances in the second half, and I think we deserved to win to be honest." Capaldi thought Argyle coped well with the physical presence of Stoke strikers Sidibe and Vincent Pericard. He said: "They are obviously a massive handful and, eventually, they have got a goal through pure strength, but the boys at the back have done ever so well." Steve Simonsen was named Stoke's man-of-the-match after putting in an outstanding display and Capaldi added: "He made a couple of great saves, and there were one or two scrambled clearances, so we were unlucky not to get the win, but it's something to build on." Norris added: "I think it was probably our best performance this season, and that's after the victory at Sunderland. How we came off at half-time one-nil down, I don't know. The keeper produced a couple of great saves and we really did play well in the first half, I thought. We knew how they were going to set up. We played under Tony Pulis long enough to know what his teams are all about. We knew with plenty of movement in midfield we would find the gaps, and we did play some good stuff in the first half." Ian Holloway has given Norris the freedom to roam around the pitch during games, rather than restricting himself to the right-side of midfield. Norris said: "I thought I found a lot of space in the first half, to get in crosses and shots. That's credit to the manager because he knows I will get back. He just says: 'Play with that bit of freedom and cut across' and I think that's where we have had some joy."
Bojan Djordjic scored four goals as Argyle won 7-0 in the South Western League fixture at Porthleven on Saturday. The other goals were scored by trialist Cherno Samba, Toby Davis and Mark Petnehazi. Stuart Gibson said: "It was easily our best performance of the season. Although Djordjic will take the plaudits with four goals, which is a feat in any game, it was our quality on the ball and of the goals, together with the hard work without the ball, which was something to behold." Argyle: Sandercombe, White, Morrison, Kendall, Laird.J, Djordjic, Petnehazi, Hopkinson, Duggan, Samba, Davis. Subs - Watts, Gosling, Smith
Ian Holloway was delighted to get a point out of yesterdays game. "I was quite relieved in the end that we actually equalised because the last couple of games we got nothing," he said. "We are out of the cup and lost at home when I thought we deserved, at least, a share of the spoils and it looked like it might happen again today. Last week I made I mistake when I tried to go too open and win it and I fell flat on my face, and Paul Sturrock beat me. Whereas, today I had to be really careful and I hoped that what we were doing would get us back in it." Although Argyle created the lion's share of the opportunities, Holloway refused to accept that his team had been unlucky. He said: "Chance for chance, I thought we created more but sometimes in this division it can be very difficult to play at home, particularly if your crowd are very expectant. Our finishing wasn't as sharp as it should have been and I don't think we were clinical enough, and if you keep doing that it's not bad luck. You've got to put it in the back of the net. We have got some very young players here who are still learning, and the one who is doing it consistently for me at the moment is Barry Hayles. Chadwick is only 23, Reuben Reid is only just 18 and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is just 20, and we had eight people under 21 in our squad of 19 today." Holloway's relief at the equaliser turned to annoyance when he discussed the Stoke goal. "What we have to try and do is stop the goals going in because, from my point of view, I wasn't very happy with the goal at all," he said. "If you've got it on the edge of the goal-line and they pass it back 15 yards, you should be travelling to that man by the time it arrives at his feet. We didn't, and that was exactly the same goal as we gave away against Walsall, which I am not very happy about. I have sat in my garden deciding whether I was going to come back into football, and I said to myself that I would never shout at anybody ever again because you have a horrible look at yourself. Sometimes I can be a bit too in your face if you're a young fella, and I let myself down today because I shouted at half-time. It was almost like, 'oh unlucky, unlucky', well, it's not unlucky - they scored and we didn't, and they shouldn't even have had that chance in my opinion and it wasn't a fantastic goal. I work on it all the time; when it is squared you go and read it, and intercept it and unfortunately we didn't even get a block on it and the bloke is four yards out. I am sure Tony will say the same thing when Barry Hayles has held him off, and spun and swivelled. That is what we managers are like." Holloway was full of praise for his predecessor. He added: "I am quite relieved that we got a point, I felt we could have got more but it is a very tough place to come and, obviously with the added spice that Tony has left my club. I am delighted with what he did for me; he has left me with an honest, hardworking bunch of people and I've got to try and add to it, so I thank him from the bottom of my heart for doing that. I was very proud of my team today and I tried not to get caught in any of the so-called emotional stuff." It is the second time in the week that Argyle have come up against a former manager. "Last week I was outdone by a superb tactician called Paul Sturrock and I didn't agree with it at all," said Holloway. "When you look at the stats, I went to gung-ho to try and win it. Today, I believed in my lads so much that I almost threw Akos Buzsaky on because he is a jack-in-the-box, and if it had gone on any longer I might have done it. I am delighted we got almost what we deserved." Argyle have now picked up seven points out of nine away from Home Park, and just one point from six at home. "We look a better side away than we do at home at the moment, and our fans have got to realise that," said Holloway. "It is my job to try and get them some home wins and, unfortunately, it hasn't happened yet. It could have been even better for the travelling support when Reuben Reid burst clear of the Stoke defence in the last minute, but, the striker delayed his shot for too long and Michael Duberry was able to make a last-ditch challenge. "I thought he did well to get there and on another day he would have scored us the winner and we would all be singing about him," said Holloway. "He is only 18 and senior strikers are used to scoring. The kid is going to be a very good player, end of story."
Barry Hayles scored his third goal of the season yesterday to secure a draw with Stoke City. "It was a tough game and we came out of the blocks, and looked the better side and made some very good chances," said Hayles. "To be honest, their 'keeper made some very good saves. We could have felt sorry for ourselves when they scored so close to half-time, and you could say it took the wind out of our sails." Hayles revealed that Ian Holloway was far from impressed with the nature of Stoke's goal in a first-half dominated by the Pilgrims. He added: "He had a go about the goal and quite rightly so, but the main thing was that he upped on the fact that we made chances. One chance did stick in my mind when I slotted it, and Simonsen somehow got down and cleared it. It stuck in my mind for about 30 seconds, and then I thought that I needed to just get on with it and make sure the next one counts. Hayles also had an explanation for the difference between Argyle's superb away form and their poor home form. He said: "We are doing well on our travels but the crowd at home is fantastic, and maybe the youngsters get overawed in front of the home fans and make the wrong choices. I am feeling fit and it was a battle today, and a battle I enjoyed."
Argyle drew 1-1 at Stoke, the goal scored by Barry Hayles after 78 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Chadwick, Hayles. Subs - Ebanks-Blake, Reid (not used - Sawyer, Buzsaky, Summerfield). Attendance - 11,626.
Paul Wotton believes that Argyle are still on course for a prosperous season, despite two home defeats in the past week. He said: "It's ridiculous to start thinking that we're going to struggle. We cruised through the Sheffield Wednesday game without really playing well, and that was disappointing. On Tuesday we came up with a decent performance against Walsall, but unfortunately they hit us with a sucker punch right at the end. That's what Wednesday did too. Things don't always run smoothly in football, but the players are still full of enthusiasm. Training is going well and everyone is bright. We've got a great game to play in against Stoke, when there's another three points at stake." Wotton knows the team will need to keep things tight at the back and grasp their goalscoring opportunities when they crop up. "We've defended well all season so far," he said, "and away from home it's a case of taking your chances when they come along. We've shown we do have that belief in front of goal. We know there are things we need to work on. The gaffer is bringing in ideas that can improve us as individuals and as a team. We do need to work on that little bit of creativity in the final third, we're under no illusions about that, but we've scored an awful lot of goals since the manager has been here and I'm sure that will continue." Today's game reunites Wotton and his team-mates with Tony Pulis, but his presence on the touchline will have no special significance for Wotton. He added: "It isn't relevant who the manager of Stoke is. Yes, it's Tony Pulis, but we'll just get on with it. It has no bearing at all on how we approach the game. We're playing Stoke City on Saturday and there are three points at stake, it's as simple as that. The fans can build it up as much as they want, but as far as the players and the management are concerned we're all much too professional to be worried about things like that."
Ian Holloway could be ready to offer a contract to trialist Cherno Samba. Des Bulpin played a part in Samba coming to Home Park on trial and Holloway said: "Des has been in youth development throughout the country and knew him when he was a young fella at Millwall. He has been playing in Spain for Cadiz but they were relegated last season. They have told him if he can find a club they will release him out of his contract. Someone Des knows told him about it and he remembered him and said 'yes, we will have a look'. He has been absolutely sharp as a tack this week. He came into my meeting with the players on Monday and he just had a big smile on his face the whole time, which I quite liked. He watched our game the other night and he has joined in the spirit of things. He certainly looks an athlete. He's sharp, he wants to learn and he wants to play. He was on a fairly decent contract in Spain so we will have a good look at him. If I'm going to give him that sort of money he's going to have to earn it, but I might have to make room for it in the squad."
Ian Holloway has insisted Argyle's game with Stoke City tomorrow is not about trying to put one over Tony Pulis. He said: "It's not Tony Pulis versus Ian Holloway. It's Plymouth Argyle versus Stoke City. It's one set of players against another. I will not be treating this game any differently. I will look at the Stoke players, what their line-up is going to be, what the tactics are and then I will try to pick a team to beat them. I can't see Tony Pulis having too much effect on that really - and I can't see me having too much effect on him either." Holloway admitted Pulis would know more about his players than any other manager in the Championship. He said: "It's not really my team, is it? I have added two players, and maybe one of them will be starting. I'm very proud to take over the reins from Tony, but all I have been doing is trying to get my staff and my players. The most important thing tomorrow is the score at the end. What I have got to try to do is not want to win too much and be too open all the time. It worked in an away fixture but it didn't work on Saturday. We got stung. In training yesterday I worked on some things we need to do a bit better at. For all the passing and moving the ball around the other night against Walsall we need to create more chances and we have worked on that. But there are a lot of things going right. We have got seven points out of 12 and I want to try to make that 10 out of 15." Holloway rested Barry Hayles against Walsall, but he will start against Stoke. Holloway added: "Someone asked me why I didn't bring him on the other night? If we had equalised and gone to extra time would he have been right for tomorrow? This game is vital to us and his power will be very important because they will probably be a foot taller than us all over the pitch." Lee Hodges was sidelined by a hip injury against Walsall, but has been included in the squad for the trip to Stoke
Ian Holloway has put on hold his interest in Newcastle United defender Paul Huntington. He said: "I have told Glenn Roeder I'm having a look at one or two more people, but he might be a possibility. I'm asking myself how many more young players do I need in my squad because tomorrow I'm going to have Dickson, Laird, Sawyer and Reid. I like them all, and in a couple of years time I'm expecting a lot of them to be in my team, holding down a regular place. Whether they can all do it now, who knows? But I like their attitude and I'm going to be working with them. I thought Huntington was a fantastic footballer and he used the ball really well. If I could have bought him and added him to my lot under a senior beast of a centre-half I might well have done it. But I don't think Newcastle would be stupid enough to sell him. He has played for England and you can see why."
Tony Capaldi has been included in the Northern Ireland squad for their Euro 2008 qualifying games against Iceland and Spain
David Kemp has left Argyle. Michael Dunford said: "We have parted company with David after coming to an amicable agreement with him. We'd like to thank him for the work he has done for the club and wish him all the best for the future." Kemp himself added: "I'd like to wish everybody at the club all the best for the future. It is a fantastic club and everyone has been brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time there. It will always be a special place for me."
Ian Holloway's back-room team at Argyle will be completed next month when Gary Penrice and Tim Breacker finalise their moves from QPR. Holloway said: "They've both got to go back to QPR for their deals to be settled but they have agreed their contracts with us. That's vital for me, and vital for us. Hopefully, they will be starting on September 1st, providing their negotiations go okay with Gianni Paladini, which I'm sure they will. All I've been doing is trying to get my staff, my players - hopefully those two situations will be sorted in the next couple of days. I'm delighted."
Bojan Djordjic has been placed on the transfer-list by Ian Holloway. "I've had a chat with him and he's been put on the transfer-list," confirmed Holloway. It's based on my observations since I've been here. I know what I want. If he wants to change things and consistently do what I want, I haven't got a problem with him. He should be getting crosses in the box, practising corners and free-kicks every day. I've spoken to him, and that's been between me and him. He'll have to earn the right to get back in or I'll be looking for someone else. I've got Dickson in the squad for the weekend. He's had a bad back, but I'm happy to go with that. From what I've seen, he gives me what I want - effort, workwise for the team. It's not all about talent; it's about your character and application. The boy knows what I've said and it's down to him. I will be looking and I will be listening and if he makes me change my mind and I take him off the transfer-list, great, but, at the moment, he's on it. When we were under the cosh at Colchester, Bojan came on and helped me. I thought he came on against Wolves and helped me, so this isn't something I have been planning. It's just something that has happened. I have got to stick to my principles really. Hopefully, they will be proved right in the end by the response I get from people. They all have to give me value for money. If he goes forward he has got to create for us because sometimes when he's on there, he doesn't come back. I'm sure you have not heard these things just from me, but I'm going to be the one who sees through what I say - with everybody. I have got to deal with my players and I have a close relationship with them. I tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear sometimes. And that's how I will continue. It's about Argyle, nobody else. If one of us is struggling we all struggle. If one of us triumphs we all triumph."
Argyle are giving a trial to Dutch defender Marcel Seip. Ian Holloway said: "He's under contract but we've been allowed to have a look at him for three days. They flew him over on Tuesday night. Seip can play at either right-back or centre-back, although Holloway said he was not 'the Beast' that he has been looking for. "I was told very strongly to have a look at him. We done one or two things this morning and he looked quite bright, looked like he can play," he added. "He's a bit shorter than I heard he was - he must have lost some height on the flight over." Also on trial is striker Cherno Samba, who played in the South Western League victory against Newquay. "He did very well," said Holloway. "He's been very sharp. Des Bulpin knew him when he was a young fella. He started at Millwall, then Liverpool came in for him and Millwall didn't let him go so he just up and left, and went to Spain. He has been absolutely sharp as a tack. He's bright and he certainly looks and athlete. He wants to learn and he wants to play so we'll have a look. I might have to make room for him in the squad."
Argyle won 6-0 against Newquay in last nights South Western League game. The goals were scored by trialist Cherno Samba, Dan Gosling, Reuben Reid (2) and Luke Summerfield (2). Argyle: Sandercombe, White, Laird.S, Gosling, Kendall, Sawyer, Smith, Buzsaky, Samba, Reid, Dickson. Subs – Hopkinson, Summerfield (not used – Laird.J, Watts)
Scott Laird has been called up to the Scotland squad for their Under-19 International against Iceland on September 6th
The arrival of coaches Gary Penrice and Tim Breacker at Argyle may be imminent. Ian Holloway is eager to make use of them both on the training ground, and talks to finalise their appointment are, it seems, almost at an end. "I'm looking forward to getting my own staff in to work with the players, and I'm looking forward to getting my scouting network up and running," he said. "Hopefully that will happen. It should be close, because I want it done. Hopefully it will be done this week, and it should be both positions sorted." Holloway also wants to spend more time on the training ground with his players. "I need to work on their movement in the box, and I need to work on the quality of the ball in," he said. "We needed a bit more urgency to get behind Walsall on Tuesday, but it still wasn't a bad performance. It isn't always about the result. Maybe it is to the supporters, but it shouldn't be. I thought we passed it, we moved it and we had a good shape about us, but unfortunately we didn't break through them on the night. Maybe I need to add one or two people who can do that, but we're getting there." Nick Chadwick missed perhaps Argyle's best chance on Tuesday but Holloway was unwilling to blame him. "I'd never criticise a striker for missing," he said. "They all need four chances to score once, even the top strikers. That's the truth, but with our possession we need to create more opportunities. We need to get round of the back of them, and we need to get on the move when we're crossing it."
Ian Holloway was able to find positives from last nights performance despite the defeat to Walsall. "If it was a boxing match, it would have been stopped," he said. "We just didn't score, I thought we needed to make more of our possession but it was a very good performance. We just didn't create enough and our final ball into the box just wasn't there. They've had one shot at goal all game and, at the moment, we're not getting what we deserve. The stats will prove it again, the same as Saturday where I thought we could have passed it better, so that was a step forward from Saturday. I think we over-passed a bit, and on Saturday we went long until the end when we had great chances. It's galling and I want to please the fans at home but, unfortunately, that's two defeats in a row. I thought we overplayed first-half and we needed to threaten their back-line. Once you get into the front man and it comes back, you need to go through and we needed more penetrating runs. In the second-half, we made good foraging runs and we got far more crosses in but we hit the first man probably eight times out of ten, which isn't conducive to scoring goals. I need to work on the movement in the box and I need to work on the ball into the box, but normally we deliver better quality. We needed a bit more urgency to get behind them but you have to give them credit; they had two banks of four. I felt we dominated play at times but they held a good shape and worked hard for each other, and they nicked it in the end." Nick Chadwick, in particular, missed a couple of clear chances, but Holloway refused to criticize his youthful forward line. "It's just one mistake; Lilian lost the ball in the wrong area and they squared it and scored," he said. "I think you'll find with Nick Chadwick's header and the chance in the first few minutes, we had far and away the better chances but that's life and you've got to get on with it. I am much happier with that performance than I was with Colchester. It was a step forward in our defending from Saturday but in football you don't always get what you deserve, and we've ended up on the wrong end after a half-decent performance. There are plenty of positives for me to work on but I feel for the lads, they didn't deserve that. I haven't been here long enough; I've got Sylvan who is 20, and Chadwick who is 23. I've also brought in Barry Hayles who I felt I needed to save for Saturday; he's 34 and played all the games. I am not going to criticize their finishing; I thought we passed it and moved it and our shape was much higher up the pitch. Unfortunately, we didn't break through people and maybe I need to add one or two who can do that." Akos Buzsaky played the last 25 minutes of the game and Holloway is hoping to give him another run-out in today's South Western League match with Newquay. Holloway said: "We're getting there, and Akos will play 45 minutes tomorrow because I think he's still got something about him. He missed all pre-season and has played a reserve game, so I'll give him half a game with Luke Summerfield tomorrow. I thought Walsall did well, worked hard for each other and you can see why they're on a winning streak. I am looking forward to getting my own staff to help the young forwards and I'll be looking forward to getting my scouting network up and running and, hopefully, that will help." Holloway also refused to criticize Nalis, and was particularly pleased with the improved defending of Hasney Aljofree and Mathias Kouo-Doumbe. Holloway said: "I think Nalis is a very good player, a good passer and he moves the ball well and I think we've got the signs of a very good side. All you can do as a manager is look at the stats and try to improve performances. It's not always about the results, maybe it is to supporters but it shouldn't be, it should be about encouraging your team, which I think everybody did. Nobody likes losing, I am probably the worse but I am still ready for the next game and I shall still give out encouragement. I thought the back four did well; Hasney Aljofree stepped up and Doumbe got his foot in." Holloway had hinted before the tie that Bojan Djordjic might start for Argyle, but he was not included in the squad. When asked about his absence, Holloway said: "He's not injured", but would not expand on that
Argyle lost 1-0 to Walsall in the Carling Cup at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Barness, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Chadwick, Ebanks-Blake. Subs - Buzsaky, Reid (not used - Sawyer, Hayles, Summerfield). Attendance - 6,407.
Ian Holloway looks set to field a very strong side against Walsall tonight. He said: "I'll pick a team that I think can win the game and should deserve to win the game. I want to win. I don't like losing, and I don't even like drawing. I like winning. Even on Saturday, I probably lost the game by trying to win it too much, but that's me. I'll be looking at it, because I might have some tired people, but I'll try and pick a team that can beat Walsall. Every game I play, and it has always been the case, I want to win, but unfortunately I can't win all of them. I never like losing, but we had a very good training session today, which was very constructive, and I'm looking forward to it. I trained them however I saw fit. It was very constructive but I will not share my methods with anybody because they are mine. I got over the coaching points I wanted to, so I was very pleased." Holloway will not decide upon his line-up until this morning, but he is very unlikely to make major alterations to Saturday's line-up. "I know why other managers have played their second-string, so to speak, in this cup," he said. "I've done it in the past. Players need to catch up with games, but at the moment I'm still trying to get my players to see how I want to move it and pass it and play, and I don't think I'll want to make wholesale changes." Holloway is expecting a tough game, and complacency will not be an issue for his team. "Walsall look a good side," he added. "They've got a new manager and a few new players, so it will be a very tough fixture. Complacency won't be a problem, not with our lot. I don't think so."
Bojan Djordjic could make his first competitive start for Argyle since last October tonight if Ian Holloway decides that Tony Capaldi could benefit from a rest. Holloway said: "I'll have a look at Tony. He played for Northern Ireland last week, so he's had one game more than anybody else, and I thought he looked quite tired on Saturday." Akos Buzsaky is also in need of match practice but it seems unlikely that he will be given his first start of the season tonight. Holloway added: "If I bring in Buzsaky as well as Djordjic and we lose, it won't bode very well, will it? We'll have to wait and see. Akos played in a reserve game the other night that we only drew 0-0 and he missed a penalty, so he's not exactly on fire at the moment, is he? But I believe in the kid, and he has to believe in what we do." One other change may be the reintroduction of Lilian Nalis after his recovery from an ankle injury. After Saturday's loss, Holloway is determined to ensure that his players remain in a positive frame of mind. "They do everything I try and ask them to do," he said. "They've just got to believe in it and they've got to believe in themselves, because there's still too much negativity being thrown around. Can't do this, can't do that, we haven't got enough money, and all that. I'm trying to turn all that round." Tactics as well as attitude are occupying Holloway at present. "We've got to relax and pass and move a bit better," he added, "and I'm also going to have to think about whether I'm going to have to be a tad more negative at times, although I don't like doing that. I've got to get the balance right between our attackers and our defenders. I've got to make sure that my attack-minded players defend better and my defence-minded players attack better. We've got to be able to splice it equally and make sure we're attacking enough and entertaining enough when people come here, but we've also got to be able to shut up shop - because we got done on the break on Saturday. One or two things will need to change."
Paul Wotton took no consolation from scoring his 50th league goal for Argyle in the defeat by Sheffield Wednesday. He said: "I'm not bothered really. I'm not happy at all. We are a strong unit and we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and move on."
Argyle reserves will play at least three of their home games this season at Tiverton Town's Ladysmead ground. Five of their nine home matches will be held at Home Park, with the venue for the fixture against Swansea City on November 14th still to be decided. Michael Dunford said: "Our first priority has got to be maintaining the Home Park pitch, which is in excellent shape thanks to the work of our groundsman, Colin Wheatcroft, and his staff. This year the home games scheduled for November-February will move to Tiverton, but during early and late season about two-thirds of games will be held at Home Park. We have had discussions with supporters' groups and realise there are hundreds of supporters who want to come to Home Park and we think we have reached a sensible solution. Tiverton is the only stadium in this area which is acceptable to the Football Combination."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake could not believe Argyle were beaten by Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. He said: "We were very unlucky. I thought we had the better opportunities to win the game. We are disappointed because we felt we should have won the game, or at least got something out of it. They didn't really get out of their area in the last part of the game. It just wasn't our day." Argyle almost equalised in the 89th minute when Ebanks-Blake had a header saved by Brad Jones. He said: "I thought it was goal, to be fair, but he has pulled off a good save." The striker then had another chance in the seventh minute of stoppage time when Barry Hayles delivered a cross, but Ebanks-Blake headed over the crossbar from close range. He added: "I should have done a bit better with it, but that's football. Sometimes they go for you and sometimes they don't." Ebanks-Blake has played in all four of Argyle's games this season, but has only started one of them and has yet to score. He said: "It will come. I'm feeling sharper with each game and the more I get used to how the team plays and to the league the better I will get. I'm confident. I have learned a lot from Barry. I'm quite close with him since I have moved here and he's teaching me all sorts of things."
Barry Hayles and Hasney Aljofree both admitted that Argyle had only themselves to blame for Saturday's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. Hayles said: "We didn't really get going. We didn't pass the ball well enough, didn't get round them or break them down. We battled away and kept on knocking at the door, but we didn't have that cutting edge. They had a game-plan and they stuck to it. We didn't really deserve to be in front, and we didn't get any better after that." Hayles was felled by the opposition goalkeeper to earn Argyle's penalty. He said: "Their 'keeper definitely pulled me back, but I don't know if it was inside the box or not." Aljofree admitted: "It was disappointing. They worked hard and they stifled us, and they had their fair share of chances. We could have got a draw with all the pressure we had at the end, but it should never have come to that. For us it was a mixture of a bit of bad defending at times and not finishing off our chances. We didn't capitalise on our possession, and they scored two good goals on the break." Aljofree paid tribute to his former manager. "Fair play to Paul Sturrock," he added. "He knew what we were going to do, he knows Argyle through and through and we played into their hands at times. You win some, you lose some, but we're not happy. We thought we were going to win the game."
Argyle won their South Western League game at Launceston 4-2 on Saturday. The goals were scored by Shane Duggan, Mark Petnehazi, Paul Kendall and Dan Smith. Stuart Gibson was delighted with his team after they showed the character to come back from two goals down. He said: "From a development point of view it was another great game and the lads have learned as much in the last seven days as they will in the next six months. It would have been all too easy for them to have folded on Saturday and lost self-belief and confidence, but tough, honest words were used at half-time. Football is not just about passing the ball and moving, but earning the right to play and putting the basics into place and that means competing, putting yourself on the line and not being intimidated. The youngsters cannot expect the officials to protect them all the time and sometimes they have to stand up and be counted." Argyle: Sandercombe, Churchill, Laird.J, Hopkinson, Kendall, White, Smith, Petnehazi, Davis, Duggan, Watts. Subs - Morrison, Gosling, Malsom (not used - Addlesbury)
Ian Holloway was gutted by Argyle's defeat to Sheffield Wednesday yesterday. "I feel like I've been mugged really," he said. "I can't believe it - how they are going back up on the motorway with three points I don't know but that is just the way it is. I didn't like the defending for the second goal and we got a bit overloaded for the first goal. We do go a tad deep at times, which is how the previous manager liked to defend but it is too deep for my liking." Holloway introduced Akos Buzsaky, Bojan Djordjic and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake in an attempt to change the course of the game. "I threw my dice as well as I could and I don't know how I am not sat here with at least a point but that's football," he said. "I jumped out of my box at one time because I thought Sylvan had got us the least of what we deserved,and that was a point. I don't know how he saved the header. I felt that we probably created more in the last ten minutes, and I've got two teams - a real solid team and a real flair team. If the flair team lets a goal in or the solid team can't break people down, then that isn't going to help me, so I need to try and get the balance right." After his first defeat as manager, Holloway is looking for his players to show more belief in themselves, and belief in his decisions. He said: "I believe in everybody here and I have asked the players to go home and see if they do but, hopefully, they believe in what I say because we have to move on. You want new signings to believe in you and I thought Hayles was absolutely outstanding, he has played every single minute and it doesn't matter how old you are if you have got hunger and desire - he was brilliant." It was determined play from Hayles that led to Argyle's penalty, but Holloway felt his team should have had a penalty earlier for a foul by Glenn Whelan on David Norris. Holloway was also somewhat confused that Jones was not shown a red card for his foul on Hayles when he was clearly the last man. "I don't want to talk about penalties because I can't believe the one in the first-half; I am absolutely seething," said Holloway. "I asked my player to take a gamble, and he knocked it past their player and got booted in the box, clear as day. What more do you need to be a penalty and they are shouting and bawling at me about how can you give the second one? I don't want anybody sent-off but if Jones wasn't the last man then who was? Let's be fair, it was going to be a goal because Hayles was going to get there. Baz blocked and chased it, and deserved a goal and I don't know what on earth they are even shouting about." Holloway was also unhappy with Graham Coughlan as he appeared to struggle with cramp for much of the second-half. "As for Cocko lying around the box at the end, I thought they had gamesmanship all afternoon," said Holloway. "Sturrock is a very wily and crafty old silver-haired fox and I wish he'd get on the bus and go home because he didn't deserve that and he knows it. No strikers isn't an excuse because he hardly plays with any strikers away from home anyway but I am gutted, absolutely devastated." Holloway is now looking to strike a balance between his attacking and defensive options, and will be looking to put it right in the Carling Cup against Walsall on Tuesday. He said: "Once again at home we have to go forward, be positive and entertain the fans, and we've come away with only one point out of six, which is very disappointing on the two performances we have given. I felt we needed to relax and pass the ball better but I can't ask for more than a first-half goal but I may need to look at it and see if I need to be a tad more negative at times. Should I have gone 4-5-1, I don't think so because I've got to entertain my people but, unfortunately, we tried to score and we're still on the end of a defeat. I feel a bit down but let's get on with the next two games, and it is very important we rise for Tuesday and then Stoke away, which will be a whole new ball game. I imagine I can pick a solid team to go away because I need to get the balance right between our attacking team and defending - we have got to splice it evenly. The balance has got to be right and the team also has to believe when I put the attacking players on - they have to believe they will defend properly. I've got to make sure my attack-minded players defend better, and my defenders attack better but somewhere along the line I think we have got a good team and we'll win a lot more than we lose. I have asked them whether they believe in me and do they believe in what I have said since I walked into this place because one or two things will need to change about each other. I believe in all of them." Holloway was a little disappointed with the attendance at Home Park, which was just over 14,000, especially when his team started the afternoon at third in the Championship. He said "The fans that didn't bother today will sit at home and think 'we lost at home, why should I bother?' I am asking them to get their backsides on seats because there were far too many spaces today and my boys didn't deserve that for their efforts - I can't believe it."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Sheffield Wednesday at Home Park, the goal coming from a Paul Wotton penalty after 43 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Summerfield, Capaldi, Chadwick, Hayles. Subs - Ebanks-Blake, Djordjic, Buzsaky (not used - Sawyer, Reid). Attendance - 14,507.
Ian Holloway wants his team to prove today that they are worthy of a place in the top three of the Championship. He said: "What upset me a little bit was what I read about the Sunderland game. People said that Sunderland made mistakes, but we forced those errors. The finishes were fantastic, so don't take away credit from us. We deserved it, we went there and won in their backyard." Holloway wants his team to set their sights high and disappoint the critics who predicted a relegation battle for Argyle. "I don't care what anybody else thinks, I know what I believe," Holloway said. "I'm the fellow in charge and I know what I want. Other people will have to realign their sights to match mine." In the long run, Holloway is eyeing the Premiership. "I understand it will be difficult, and I'm not setting any time target, but that's what I'm aiming for. Everything I'm bringing to the club is of Premiership quality. I want everybody here thinking that way. That's where we're going, and we have to set our standards that high. This area needs a Premiership football club. The kids of this area deserve to see the best in their backyard. That's what my intentions are, and I'm putting a marker down now. I don't care how long it takes, that's what I'm trying to achieve." Holloway has no hesitation in paying tribute to Paul Sturrock's work at Home Park. "I'm happy that I've still got a lot of Paul's players here, and I can reap the benefit of his judgement," he said. "He set up something from nothing and it kept growing and growing, and I've been delighted to take over the reins." There will be no favours shown to Sturrock and his Wednesday side today, however. "They're just another team we have to try and beat," Holloway added. "It's another three points up for grabs, and I want all three. If they're struggling, they're like a wounded animal and we've got to be careful. We've done nothing yet. We haven't won a home game - and I want to put that right this weekend."
Argyle have sacked Chris Zebroski with immediate effect. Zebroski was found guilty of gross misconduct by a club disciplinary panel following the incident involving Paul Wotton in Austria. Following an investigation the club issued the following statement yesterday: "Following an incident in Austria on Saturday, July 22nd involving Paul Wotton and Chris Zebroski, a disciplinary panel established by the Plymouth Argyle board has found Chris Zebroski guilty of gross misconduct and, therefore, the player's contract has been cancelled with immediate effect. The club will be making no further comment at this time."
Argyle youth striker Anthony Mason is set to play a part as the Republic of Ireland try to qualify for the UEFA Under-19 Championship finals next summer, having made his international debut this week, playing in two friendlies for the Irish against Ukraine. Mason, who scored one of the goals in a 2-1 victory on Tuesday, was set to make his debut for Tiverton Town today after signing for them in an open-ended loan deal
Argyle's youth squad has been bolstered by the arrival of two promising trialists - goalkeeper Lloyd Saxton and right-back Tom King. Saxton, 16, comes from Alsager near Stoke-on-Trent and was previously on the books of Notts County. Stuart Gibson said: "Notts County finished their youth programme, like Torquay did. I knew the head of youth there, Steve Spooner, so I gave him a call to find out what players he had and was there anybody he could recommend. He mentioned two lads - one was a striker and one was Lloyd. The striker was going to Watford on trial and they consequently signed him, so that was a shame. He must have been half-decent then. Lloyd had already agreed to go to Crystal Palace for six weeks but I said to him if things didn't work to give us a call. Their first team went to America and they brought an 18-year-old goalkeeper back with them and told Lloyd 'thanks, but no thanks son', so he rang me and now he's here on trial and we are having a look at him." King was spotted by Gibson and John James playing for the Republic of Ireland in an under-18s match against Malta. Gibson said: "A few of the lads that had been here on trial were playing as well, but we had our cards marked about a couple of players. Tom came on and he looked outstanding so we invited him over. We will give him a good run-out against Tiverton next week. Lloyd and Tom are here indefinitely at the moment. No time has been put on it." Argyle have also added 17-year-old goalkeeper Tim Sandercombe to their youth squad. Sandercombe was with QPR last season but Argyle have taken on the second year of his apprentice contract. His arrival follows the summer departure of James Debbage, who was the under-18s' keeper last season. Debbage returned to his native north-east of England after failing to settle in Plymouth
Argyle have been boosted by the news that Lilian Nalis has made a rapid recovery from an ankle ligament injury and could be available tomorrow against Sheffield Wednesday. Ian Holloway said: "Lilian took part in full training today, and he'll be in the squad on Saturday as long as my physio tells me tomorrow that there's been no reaction. Lilian is a very strong fellow. I'm surprised he has recovered so quickly, but I was told he would do so." Akos Buzsaky will not be considered for a place in the starting line-up and Holloway said: "Akos is not ready to start yet. He'll be in my squad on Saturday, though, and whether I select him as a substitute or not will be down to how I see the game unfolding. But he's a fantastic player, and he's a huge asset for us." Buzsaky and several other senior Argyle players got some valuable match practice in Wednesday's South Western League draw against Falmouth Town - and Holloway was glad that they all came though unscathed. "They got kicked a lot more than I expected," he said, "but I do now know how people look at Argyle in this area. Everyone looks at us as a big concern, and Falmouth were jumping around because they got a draw. We haven't had any reserve games yet, and I think that my players who aren't starting for the first team want to play football. When I was a player, that was all I wanted to do, but I'll have to be careful about who I pick at that standard in the future. I'm delighted I haven't got any injuries, and I was very pleased with the performance. We did everything but score a goal, and we dominated play. I was impressed with Falmouth too, I thought they did very well." The game gave Holloway the chance to take a look at Paul Huntington, who has been on trial at Home Park this week, and he liked what he saw. "I think he's a very nice lad and a very good player," Holloway said. "Now I've got to talk to him. I think he's going to stay and watch the game on Saturday." Huntington will not go straight into Argyle's first team if he does stay at Home Park, however. "He's a potential number five, but at the moment he's a number six," Holloway said. "He's very tall and very elegant, but he doesn't dominate in the air like I probably need. I'm very impressed with him, though, and I'll be trying to talk him into coming to us if I can fit him in the budget. I need to talk to his manager first, because, if his manager wants him to have guaranteed first-team football, then I won't take him. But if his manager lets me put him in my squad and work with him and develop him, then I'd love to be able to have him." Holloway has also been tipped off about the potential availability of a tall foreign striker, who played in an Under-21 international on Wednesday. Asked about the pursuit of that target, Holloway said: "I'll let you know when I get my staff sorted out the way I want. That should happen by next week. I'm waiting to sit down with the fellow who will be my chief scout and talk about things."
Ian Holloway admitted there could be changes to the Argyle starting line-up tomorrow, despite the superb win against Sunderland. "It's a different game," he said. "I have got to look at what I need. I'm at home for a start, not away. I think they will be defensive. I think he will set them up to get a point and try to nick three. I don't think he's going to come out at us, so it's a whole different mindset from last week. I will look at who he's going to pick, which is a bit difficult because he has got a lot of injuries. He will use that as a perfect excuse because he's very clever but I'm not going to be fooled by that. I'm going to actually see how he will set up. I know what he does - and he does it very well, so I'm going to have to break that down. I'm going to need some attacking options but whether they start or whether they are on the bench is down to me. This game is totally different to last week. It's on our home turf against Sheffield Wednesday and nothing to do with Sunderland."
Ian Holloway has admitted he is considering trying to loan out Ryan Dickson. He said: "Motherwell didn't think he was match-fit enough to take him but that's no problem. I will bring him back with us. If he's not playing I might loan him out." Holloway believes Dickson has a lot of potential. He said: "He will get a longer contract because I like what he does; I like his attitude and everything about him. I wouldn't give someone a long contract and then move them on; if I didn't want them I would tell them they were not needed and they would know the reasons because I like people to know where they stand with me. I will give a lot of the young lads a new contract and he will get one because if he can get over his back problems and get some regular games under his belt, I think he could be a player for us."
Hasney Aljofree believes Argyle will face their most difficult match of the season so far when Sheffield Wednesday visit Home Park tomorrow. He said: "Sheffield Wednesday are a massive club and from the youth team upwards they will have quality players there. I'm sure Paul Sturrock has got players who he can bring in and do a good job for him and, you never know, he could bring in another player before the weekend. We aren't thinking it's going to be an easy afternoon. In fact, it will probably be our hardest game, I think." Aljofree knows all about Wednesday having spent a short injury-curtailed loan spell there in 2004. He said: "There are a lot of ties between the clubs at the moment. There is Paul Sturrock, Cocko, Steve Adams and Peter Gilbert. Obviously, I went there on loan so it's going to be a special day for quite a lot of people. It's going to be a big game for everyone. Sheffield Wednesday will be our hardest game - I don't care if they haven't got any strikers. Paul Sturrock's teams are always hard-working and you know what you are going to get. Everyone has just got to really knuckle down and approach the game correctly. Hopefully, we can get the three points. I know from my few weeks at Sheffield Wednesday, the expectations at the club are unbelievable. They should be up there because everything is in place - the support, the stadium. But I'm at Plymouth Argyle and I'm thinking the same thing about us. We have just got to be better than them tomorrow." Aljofree has been signed by Sturrock three times, first for Dundee United in 2000 and then Argyle in 2002 before his loan move to Sheffield Wednesday. He admitted he had a lot of respect for his former boss and his coaching staff: "He has done a lot for me. He took me up to Scotland for Dundee United, even though he did resign after two games! Then he brought me down to Plymouth and I did learn a lot. I have got great respect for him, Kevin Summerfield and John Blackley. I worked a lot with John, in particular, because he was the defensive coach. That's what football is all about. You are learning all the time and I reckon those three have got a big influence on why I'm playing for Argyle now." Argyle sit in third position in the Championship and Aljofree admitted there was a buoyant mood around the club. He said: "Everyone is really on top of their game and buzzing in training. We couldn't ask for any more. To get seven points on the board so soon is a massive boost. When we went 1-0 down early doors at Sunderland, everyone was probably looking around thinking 'what's going on here,' especially after our last game there. But we have got a great team spirit and everyone stuck together and shrugged it off. We managed to win the game and it was a special day." With Argyle's superb start to the season, plus the return of Sturrock and Coughlan, there could be a near capacity crowd at Home Park. Aljofree said: "Sheffield Wednesday will definitely bring a lot of fans down so we need our supporters to get behind us and be our 12th man."
Ian Holloway has dismissed the return of Paul Sturrock to Home Park as a major factor in Saturday's game with Sheffield Wednesday. He said: "It is all drama for news articles but the truth of the matter is three points are at stake; there will be added spice but I will be doing things the same way. It is all about the reports I have received and the squad that I pick - I will try and pick the right team for the game, irrespective of what people should deserve or could deserve, it is all about us." Despite last weekend win at Sunderland, Holloway is determined to focus on Sheffield Wednesday, and will ensure his players do the same. "I was so proud of my squad last weekend because they did the job I asked them to do," he said. "They showed no dissent and did the job when they were needed, and supported their manager and his overall game plan - it worked, we won the game 3-2." After Sheffield Wednesday, Argyle face Walsall in the Carling Cup on Tuesday and then a trip to Stoke the following Saturday. Holloway is looking for his team and supporters to keep believing in themselves and the club. He said: "We need to stay calm and stay away from the emotion and deal with Saturday's game, and then Tuesday's game, which is vital to us and also the game on the following Saturday. My focus is on the three games in the next seven days and I have to make sure the training is not over the top, I get the selection right and the lads keep believing. The fans need to keep believing as well and I couldn't believe the numbers at Sunderland - they sung their hearts out." Holloway will be taking the Walsall game just as seriously as a League game. He said: "I have to try and pick a team to beat them because they are on a roll after winning three games in a row, which is fantastic at any standard. My priority is Sheffield Wednesday and then I will be talking about Walsall because I think winning is a habit and if you lose, you don't believe as much."
Josh Clapham is adapting quickly to the demands of professional football, which was always his preferred career path despite his university studies. He said: "I hoped to find a football club after I left university. That was the plan. I knew I had a trial organised at Argyle towards the end of last season, so the plan was to come here in July and do what I could. It has worked out well. I've really enjoyed playing and training at this level. It's been great. Things like shooting practice with professionals have been brilliant. I enjoyed every minute of the Austria tour, and I want to play at this standard." Romain Larrieu and Luke McCormick both stand between Clapham and a first-team place at Home Park, but being Argyle's number-one keeper is his long-term target. "There's no point being here otherwise," he said. "I know that in a year's time I'm going to be better. I'm training every day and I know the things I have to work on, and I have to carry on doing my best and working hard." Clapham was used to a reasonable standard of play last season. "I would say that the University of Plymouth team was right up there at South Western League level," he said. "The team that I played in was a very good university team. Like me, they all used to be schoolboy players at professional clubs. It was a decent standard." Clapham replaced McCormick in the second half of the friendly against Real Madrid in Austria, and made one very good save late in the match. "What sticks in my memory is not going to shake hands with any of their players or try to swap shirts, because I was so full of adrenalin," he said. "I wasn't thinking straight, I was so hyped up. It was dream stuff, playing against Real Madrid."
Argyle drew 0-0 draw against Falmouth Town in last nights South Western League fixture. Argyle: Clapham, Barness, Huntington, Sawyer, Laird.S, Smith, Gosling, Buzsaky, Djordjic, Ebanks-Blake, Reid. Subs not used - Kendall, Hopkinson, Watts, Davis, Malsom
Tony Capaldi won his 19th cap for Northern Ireland in this evenings 2-1 win in Finland
Ryan Dickson had a trial at Motherwell this week, but will not be making the move to Scotland. Motherwell assistant-manager Paul Hegarty said: "We have told Ryan that we will not be taking our interest any further. He played in a 7-1 win over an American College side this afternoon but you could see that he hasn't played many games for some time."
Ian Holloway has revealed his delight at seeing Akos Buzsaky back in action. He said: "He's a fantastic player. I liked what he did up at Sunderland. I thought he gave us something different. He needs to play with a little bit more discipline, shape-wise, for the team, but I'm not criticising him. I've only just got him back, and he's an absolutely fantastic player. The little shuffle when he almost scored was something else. He looks like he can pull a rabbit out of a hat. The higher you go, you need players who can do that. It was very, very pleasing." Buzsaky's match practice will continue this evening, when he plays in the South Western League match against Falmouth. Holloway said: "We will have quite a strong team out. Everybody who is fit will play. I might even play Sylvan because he hasn't played as much as Chadders. I need to keep everybody fit. Training is great but the thing they really want to do is play football. They love it."
David Norris has promised that Argyle will do their best to maintain their excellent start to the season. "We're on a bit of a good run at the moment, and the manager drummed into us that there was nothing to fear going to places like the Stadium of Light," he said. "We've been taking the game to teams, and we love going to big grounds like Sunderland. I thought we were pretty comfortable up there, and we could have won by more. Sunderland were hesitant at the back, and they weren't the quickest either. They were bothered by any sort of ball over the top, and we played for that. It worked for us, and we kept their crowd quiet for most of the game." The squad gathered in a celebratory huddle after the final whistle on Saturday, before saluting the travelling fans. "At the end everyone was just so pleased for each other," added Norris, who is now preparing for Saturday's visit of Sheffield Wednesday side to Home Park. "It's another big game for us, and we've got every chance of keeping this run going," he said. "It's a matter of not getting too carried away now. I'm sure the gaffer will bring us back down to earth."
Ian Holloway believes there should be a statue of Paul Sturrock at Home Park. Sturrock returns to Home Park on Saturday with his Sheffield Wednesday side and Holloway said: "They should have a statue to him here. No-one can ever take away from him what he achieved at this club. He was part of a very, very strong team, and he was the kingpin. His relationship with the chairman was the key to it all. The chemistry between everybody at the club at the time was incredible. Kevin Summerfield was massive in it as well. So was Maxie. Graham Coughlan was massive in it, but he put all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. I'm very proud of his old club, and I'm sure he is too." Holloway added: "Paul is a great fella. I can't really say we are friends but he's someone I respect greatly. He rang me after we beat them 3-0 at our place in the season we were both promoted. They were top but we jumped above them with the win and on the Monday he phoned up and asked for a friendly. I said: 'don't be stupid' but he went: 'my lads need to believe again'. I had seen the video and it had been really close, despite the score, but they had obviously felt that it wasn't. In the end they beat us by seven points, and that just shows the man. On his first day at Southampton he ordered a practice match and I went down with my chief scout and watched it. I think I was looking at Darren Kenton then. We were there and he came over and stood by me. We had a good chat. He's an absolute gentleman." Holloway thought Sturrock left behind a daunting legacy after three-and-a-half years at Home Park. He said: "Enough water has gone under the bridge for me to come in, but I wouldn't have liked to come in when Bobby Williamson did. What chance did he stand really?"
Ian Holloway has revealed the details of the tactical planning employed when Argyle won at Sunderland at the weekend. "We went there and we wanted to try and end up one goal better off than them, however many they scored," Holloway said. "I didn't anticipate them scoring inside 30 seconds, but when we went one down what pleased me most was that it didn't faze us. That's a credit to the team. I was absolutely delighted. The game-plan was to try and get in behind them. We knew that they had a little bit of a pace problem at the back, and I thought how we played highlighted that. The balls that we hit down the line were quality. They weren't long balls, they were quality balls. Barry and Sylvan got on the end of them time and time again, and so did Chadders when he came on. We forced them into making mistakes." Chadwick was understandably displeased about being left out of the starting line-up, but Holloway wanted to use the extra pace of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake against Sunderland. "I think I picked the right team to start the game," Holloway said, "and then Chadders came on fit. What a great attitude he showed. That's what it's all about. It's all about sharing. I wouldn't have done that before. I'd have been too loyal. Chadwick had done well and the team had been winning, but I've got to pick the right team for each game."
Nick Chadwick has hailed the winning mentality brought to Argyle by Ian Holloway. He said: "We won 3-2 on Saturday. Would we have done that in the past? Maybe not. I think if you score three goals as an away side you deserve to win any game." Chadwick had only one aim when he was sent on against Sunderland - and that was to score the winning goal. He said: "There have been times in the past where I have gone on and played a lot deeper role. We would perhaps be hanging on for a draw, and might not even have got that. On Saturday, I went on with the intention of getting a goal. Not just for myself, but for the club as well. That's what the manager wanted me to do. I think that's why I went onto the pitch, and that's what I did. Everybody was happy."
Motherwell boss Maurice Malpas is interested in signing Ryan Dickson, according to reports. "We have taken a look at Ryan and he comes highly recommended," he said. "I have talked to two or three people who have spoken very highly of him and we will have a look at him in a closed-doors game. We tried to get him in the summer, but we were told he wasn't available, but his situation has now changed. The important thing is that he has to be better than what we have got."
Hasney Aljofree is Argyle's main injury concern following the win over Sunderland, but Ian Holloway expects him to recover. "Hasney took a right whack from Brown, looked like GBH to me and he hurt his side," said Holloway. "They put the mad assassin on and tried to smack a few of us around but he should be alright in the end - touch wood." Akos Buzsaky played the last twenty minutes of the game and whilst Holloway was delighted with the quality of his play, he warned that Buzsaky needs to be a little more disciplined. "I don't know how fit he normally is but he looked like he was blowing," said Holloway. "He is a fantastic player and I liked how he played, I thought he gave us something different but he needs to be more disciplined shape-wise for the team. I am not criticizing him, I've only just got him and the little shuffle he did was something else. He looks like he can pull a rabbit out of the hat and the higher you go the more you need players like that."
Argyle are giving a trial to Newcastle United defender Paul Huntington, with a view to a loan move. Huntington arrived at Home Park today to spend the week training with the squad, and will play in the South Western League game against Falmouth Town tomorrow. Ian Holloway said: "The big fellow is down here now. He's only a young fellow, and we're going to have a look at him for a week. He's going to play in the game on Wednesday. He's a very nice young man, and he can head it. He's got a bright future ahead of him. He's been with Newcastle's first team all pre-season, and we might have a chance to get him on loan. He's only 18 but it doesn't matter how old you are, it's how good you are. A lot of my scouts have watched him, but I haven't seen him play yet. That's why he's come down here for a week." Holloway is also pursuing a foreign forward, but that has been put on hold for now. "The striker is playing for his international team, so we can't have him at the moment," said Holloway, who dismissed reports suggesting that Crystal Palace's Hungarian striker Sandor Torghelle is a target, adding: "I don't know where that one has come from." Holloway has stated his intention to field a strong side in the SWL game, with many first-team squad members due to make an appearance. Akos Buzsaky is expected to feature and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is another likely starter
Argyle reserves lost 1-0 to Bodmin Town in their first match in the South Western League. Stuart Gibson said: "Certain players were very nervous in the first half, which surprised me a bit. We weren't aggressive enough without the ball and we didn't keep our discipline and shape and we have been working on that for the past week. We had constructive dialogue during the break and I was very pleased with how receptive the boys were." Overall Gibson was satisfied with the standard that his side had met in their first game, adding: "It was a well played game and if this is the type of game we can expect throughout the season then it will bode well for the development of my players." Argyle: Sandercombe, Churchill, Kendall, Laird.S, Laird.J, Gosling, Smith, Petnehazi, Duggan, Dickson, Mason. Subs – White, Davis, Byrne (not used - Hopkinson, Watts)
Ian Holloway was full of praise for his Argyle side's spirit following yesterdays win. "These boys have to realise that what they've got you can't always buy - they've got spirit that got them through two promotions," he said. "There's seven of them who got beaten 5-1 here last year. I thought they showed belief after going 1-0 down. I think they are great. I think they worked their socks off. I think there's things we can improve on, obviously, but you can't buy those other things. The plan wasn't to go 1-0 down after a minute, but they worked hard together and I'm absolutely delighted with them. They have filled me with belief already. To come here, to a place this big. I just wanted everybody to remember our name when we left. Hopefully people will remember us. They may not understand everything I say but, hopefully, they'll see there might be a little bit of logic behind it. The boys have got a fantastic spirit. We had a bit of a game-plan and that went out of the window in the first minute, but it doesn't faze them. I'm very, very proud of my team so far. The character we showed to get back and be ahead by half-time, that's what makes me hope for the future." Holloway reserved special praise for Barry Hayles. "Hayles has been quite exceptional since he's been here," he added. "I think he's strong; he's a great fella. I hoped the board would see that early on, because it's not easy paying £100,000 for a 34-year-old in this day and age, but I'd pay it again tomorrow, with my own money. I think he's great." With seven points from the first three games, Holloway hopes to take Argyle to the next level. He said: "We are trying to build something that is good enough to last, because I believe in the place, rightly so. I believe that, in time, we can make it as big a club as Sunderland. They had 26,000 fans and the ground was empty; if we had 26,000, we'd have to lock 6,000 in the car-park. I want to change that, so does the board. I want to build a team to be proud of in the process, and that's what we are going to be trying to do. Our fans were immaculate, our board is very respectful and hopefully a few more people will like Plymouth by the end of it. The expectation level of the two clubs is totally different. I said to my boys at half-time that I wouldn't want to be in the other dressing-room because the fans here are not happy. There's a lot of negativity. Call me mad, call me what you like, but I want the whole of the South West coming to our ground. I want a ground as big as the Stadium of Light." When asked about the team selection, Holloway said: "I felt we needed Ebanks-Blake and then Chadwick comes off the bench and scores. Their attitude has been superb and that's what we're trying build. We're trying to build something that is good enough to last because I believe in the place. I'm pleased with myself today because, in the past, if people did well for me, I'm a little bit soft and I leave them in. Today, it was crying out for a different type of thing and we won the game because of that, because Chads was fresh when the game opened up." Chadwick came on at the same time as Akos Buzsaky, and Holloway added: "He's not fit. I was going to leave him and play him in the reserves, or the South Western League, but I thought 'I like the look of this fella' so I brought him with us. I thought, by me bringing him on at the time I brought him on, that's another statement I am trying to make. I believe defending away from home is about attacking as well. You have got to get the balance right. I've still got to pinch myself, especially after going 1-0 down in the first minute. Last time, we lost 5-1 and we've come away with a 3-2 win, and that's what life is all about. I've been told some things in my life that have never come true: my wife might have died - she had a one in three chance - she's fine; I was told we wouldn't have kids - we've got four kids. So I don't really listen. Life just moves on. If I want something, I try to get it anyway. I only care about what's going to happen next week now. We've got Sheffield Wednesday at home, another massive club but not as big as mine, in my opinion."
The drinks are on Ian Holloway after Argyle's win over Sunderland, which was witnessed by about 700 travelling fans. "I hope I see one or two of those on the Barbican over the next couple of days and I might like to buy them a drink," he said. "So anyone who travelled up here, please send me a letter - I'd love to buy you a drink." When it was pointed out that the round might set him back more than a few quid, Holloway said: "I don't care. That's what football is all about for me. It's passion; you can't get rid of it. It's marvellous. I'm quite popular at the moment. How long that will last, who knows? Hopefully,a long time."
Nick Chadwick was omitted from Argyle's starting line-up yesterday, but came on as substitute to score the winner. After the match he admitted that he was disappointed to be left out. "I don't think I need to say what my feelings were before the game," he said. "After two good results, I think it was a little bit unfair. That's life, that's football. The best way to prove yourself to be right is to come on and have the affect that I had. Watching from the side in the first half, I was itching to get on because I thought they didn't look confident in their defending whatsoever. I thought they were letting everything bounce. Collins did that for the goal. I couldn't believe it. I saw him go to do that, and I put as much pressure on him as I could, he hit it against me and I managed to compose myself and I was really pleased to slot it past the keeper." Argyle came under pressure for the only time in the game following the equaliser, but Chadwick felt that they were capable of springing the surprise that his goal provided. "Once this crowd get behind them, it's like another man for them," he said. "They equalised and it was the only time in the game that they possibly could have gone on and done something, but, they way we are playing, we always fancy ourselves to go up the other end and nick a goal. Today, we have won 3-2. Would we have done that in the past? Maybe not. We're away from home and we've scored three goals; if we do that we deserve to win any game. There have been times in the past when perhaps I've gone on and played in a lot deeper role. We've been hanging on for a draw and maybe we haven't even got that. I came on fully with the intention to get myself a goal for the club. That's what the manager wanted me to do and that's what I did." Chadwick paid tribute to the Green Army. "I'd like to think they see effort and commitment, not just from myself, but from every one of the players," he said. "They travel the length and breadth of the country to see their side, and if you are showing 100% effort and commitment for the club, they are going to be right behind you. Everything is going well at the minute. Long may that continue. There might be some times when we get beat, but, even when we went 1-0 down, they were still singing and shouting and willing the team forward."
Argyle won 3-2 at Sunderland, the goals scored by David Norris after 8 minutes, Barry Hayles (39) and Nick Chadwick (82). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Summerfield, Capaldi, Ebanks-Blake, Hayles. Subs - Chadwick, Buzsaky (not used - Djordjic, Sawyer, Reid). Attendance - 24,377.
Hasney Aljofree has insisted that Argyle have nothing to fear from today's trek to Sunderland. "The first two games have gone well for us," he said. "We were disappointed not to beat Wolves last weekend, because we put in a good performance, but we really ground out a result at Colchester. That was special for us. Wherever you go away from home, it's really tough, so to have four points on the board after those two games has to give us confidence going to Sunderland. We know it will be hard up there, but we just have to treat it as another game. We know we can win away. We knew Layer Road was going to be a tough place to go. We had a few chances to score more than one goal, but we had to defend well to get the result. There's an awful lot of quality in this division, and you usually get punished if you make one mistake." Avoiding errors will be a priority today. "We'll be very aware Sunderland are no mugs," Aljofree added. "We'll respect them, but they're a Championship club like us and we've got to be as positive as we can. Hopefully we can get a result up there." Aljofree played in the 5-1 defeat Argyle suffered to Sunderland in March 2005. "I remember it well," he said. "We defended well for half an hour, and then they scored three goals from three chances in about 15 minutes. We took the game to them, but it was just one of those days. It can happen to any team at any time. Hopefully it won't happen again." The chances of a repeat are slim if Argyle defend as they did against Wolves and Colchester last week. "After we got our goal on Tuesday we settled down," Aljofree said, "and we managed to get through to half-time. In the second half, we knew they were just going to pump long balls up to the big guys that they put on, and we defended well. If you're organised and your shape is good, it's very hard for any team to score goals against you." The most pleasing aspect of Tuesday's win at Colchester may have been the displays of Luke Summerfield and Gary Sawyer. "I was delighted for them both," Aljofree said. "That goal Luke scored, he does it in training every day, and I was really happy for him. Gary came on and took to League football like a duck to water. I was really proud of him, he didn't flinch one bit."
Ian Holloway is insistent that tomorrows game at Sunderland will be no more difficult than any other game this season. He said: "Every game is a tough as the last one in this division. Sunderland have got a lovely stadium and they've spent some money, so it will be a tough challenge. Every game is equal in my book with three points available at the end, whether you are home or away." Holloway admitted he did not envy Niall Quinn and the task that was facing him. "You have got to turn a losing habit into a winning habit and that is never easy, even for an experienced manager," he said. "I don't envy Niall going into a Championship season having only just taken over and not having a period where he could do some training with his team and bring in his own players. It's not easy. Mick McCarthy could cope with it. But talk about a baptism of fire for Niall Quinn. Niall is a great human being so I wish him all the best, but not against us. I shall be going up there with my Green Army to try to beat him. That's what I want to do. It's a marvellous stadium and they are a great club, but so is mine." Holloway added he had no ambitions of becoming a chairman at any stage. He said: "I would never want to be on the board of a football club. I think you are absolutely barmy because it costs more and more money. I want to be a manager because I love people, but it isn't my money I'm paying them is it? If you want to put £19 million in the bank and be a football club chairman you would probably have to start with about £45m. So all the best to them." Holloway will be facing Quinn for the first time as an opposing manager, and concedes that he is unsure of the tactics he will adopt. "Niall Quinn is new to the job, so I don't really know what sort of tactics he employs but I know their players and I will prepare us properly and try and win it," said Holloway. "I don't know if there is ever a good time to play Sunderland but I want to go up there and do well. I believe my team is better than what they think they are and I told them that at Colchester." Holloway knows Sunderland will be dangerous opponents, but he is hopeful that his team can cause them problems. He said: "I want to go there and get our defensive set-up right but also cause them some problems from set-pieces and general play. Last time I went there with Q.P.R., we were 2-1 up with a minute to go and drew 2-2 and I want to put that right. We have got to try and impose ourselves on the game and that will have much more influence on the game than their fans." The Argyle squad will be flying to the game on Friday and Holloway feels this will be far more useful than a seven-hour coach journey. He said: "I think flying up there will help us greatly, rather than spending however many hours it would be on the coach from here to Sunderland. Gracious me, it would probably take two days. We try to do things right to give ourselves a good start and the lads did us proud the other night. Let's see what we can get tomorrow.." Argyle have picked up four points from their opening two games, but Holloway admits that they have a long, long way to go. He said: "We have 10 million miles to go from what I want but I have to thank them for their efforts so far. I know exactly what I have got and exactly what I want to add. I don't know what peak means, is that to win 6-0 because I don't think that ever happens in this league. I am looking for consistency and not a peak. I want to be on a plateau with quality all the way through but in reality I know we will have ups and downs." One surprise inclusion in tomorrows squad could be Akos Buzsaky. Holloway said: "There won't be any major changes but I am thinking about taking Akos Buzsaky, and maybe putting him as a substitute but I'm not sure yet. I would have liked to give him a game first but I like what he has shown me in training and I would quite like him sat on my bench." Without a midweek game to contend with next week, Holloway will devote more time to adding to his squad. An un-named 6ft-plus foreign striker will be on trial at Home Park from Monday onwards, and Holloway is taking a close interest in a tall central defender, who is also from abroad. "I've had very, very good reports on this centre-half," Holloway said. "We've had him watched, and I want to go and see him play when I can. He can head a ball a country mile. He's foreign, but I can't say any more than that."
Gary Sawyer is the latest beneficiary of Ian Holloway's open-minded approach to team selection at Home Park, and the manager is very pleased with Sawyer's progress. He said: "Gary is a very good defender. He has grown up while he's been with Exeter, and everything about him so far I've liked. He's very positive, and he can fill at least two roles in the team. He can play at centre-back as well as left-back. He got a little bit of a roasting at times at Bristol Rovers when he was up against Lewis Haldane, who's quite a good player, but my whole back- line was wrong against Rovers. It wasn't just Gary. I like the lad's attitude. He's fantastic in the air, he's great at closing people down, and I think he's steady as a person. I think he's got a really good chance with us."
Argyle will be without Lilian Nalis for the visit to Sunderland because of an ankle ligament injury but it is hoped he could be available for the home game against Sheffield Wednesday next Saturday. Ian Holloway said: "Lil is responding very well to treatment. Knowing what my physio is like and how good he is, and knowing what Lil is like, I would imagine he would be in contention for a place against Sheffield Wednesday." Hasney Aljofree has recovered from a knock sustained in the win at Colchester. Romain Larrieu remains unavailable for selection and Ian Holloway revealed that he has spent some time in hospital this week. "We're still waiting for a further scan," he said. "We're keeping his news very close to our chest, because it's very personal."
Paul Connolly is one of seven players who were in Argyle's starting line-up from the last visit to Sunderland, a 5-1 defeat, and wants to prove a point when they return to the scene tomorrow. He said: "I think it's a bad memory for all of the lads who played in that game. It still sticks in the back of my throat so, hopefully, we can go up there and try to rectify it by getting a result. I remember Luke was in goal and he hurt his eye. It just wasn't a good night. We stayed over after the game and I could hardly sleep. It wasn't nice but, hopefully, we will have good memories this time." The Stadium of Light is arguably one of the best grounds in England and Connolly believes Argyle can put in a performance befitting the venue. He said: "It's a lovely stadium and it's one of the biggest in the whole country, I think. There will probably be about 25,000-30,000 up there so, hopefully, we can put on a good show. We want to play our own game. We don't want go up there, sit back and wait to get beaten. We want to try to take the game to them and get a result." Argyle won their first match of the season at Colchester on Tuesday but Connolly was not totally satisfied with the performance. He said: "It was a great win at Colchester but I think the boys came off the pitch and thought we should have maybe put them to the sword. We were 1-0 up after half-an-hour and we should have gone two or three-up and put the game to bed, but we didn't. At the end of the day, we showed our battling qualities, which everyone down here knows we have got, and we have hung on." Sunderland have only won one home league game since the start of last season and Connolly added: "It must be hard for the players because the North East fans are known to be very passionate and are used to the top flight. I think if we can go up there and silence them for a little bit it will play into our hands perfectly and set us up for a result. It's the same at Middlesbrough and Newcastle. They all love their football so much - it's similar to where I'm from. It must be tough for players when things aren't going well." Argyle were flying to Sunderland from Plymouth today and Connolly admitted that made the trip to the North East a less daunting one. He said: "We sympathise with the fans who have got to get up there but it does make things easier for us. It is a lot better and lot more professional now and means we have got really good preparation." Argyle also flew to Colchester, leaving on Monday morning and not returning until Wednesday lunchtime. Connolly added: "I said to a couple of the lads on the way back it felt like we had been on a pre-season tour again. You are in hotels and it does get a bit boring but it was alright. There was a little snooker room there so I was happy anyway." Connolly beat off competition from Anthony Barness to start the season at right-back and has been pleased with his form in the first two games. He said: "I was happy to get the nod from the gaffer and I'm happy with the way I have played so far. The games haven't really opened up for my style to try to get forward, but I'm not too fussed about that as long as we keep getting results. Hopefully, I can come into games a bit more as the season goes on."
Gary Sawyer is eager for more first team football after making his debut for Argyle. He said: "I have waited for that for a long time. That was the first time I had even travelled with the club as well, seeing as I have been out for two years on loan. All the lads were absolutely brilliant and I couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch to help me along with it. Obviously, I have not had a chance before so I have got to put my hand up to the gaffer and thank him for it. I was a bit nervous before I went on but then I thought 'this is something I have always wanted to do' so I went out and did my best. I will not sit back on this now. That's just the start for me and it means I will work even harder. I loved every minute of being out there and I want even more of it." Sawyer played in all six of Argyle's pre-season friendlies, either in central defence or at left-back, so he did not find settling into the side at Colchester too difficult. He said: "All of the players are great leaders and as soon as I came on they were telling me what to do and where to go. That really helps you when you first go on because it's a bit frantic, especially on your debut as well, and you want to do the best you can." Colchester tried to test Sawyer with some high balls, but he was up to the task. Sawyer said: "He's a tall guy and I'm not blessed with great height but, lucky enough, I have got a decent spring. I always think other teams feel they are going to win headers because I'm too small, so it's a nice surprise for them when they find out that I can jump." Argyle held on to secure their first win with Holloway as manager, despite a lot of pressure from Colchester. Sawyer added: "We defended really well. It was all hands to the pumps at times but everyone stuck at it. The boys did really well and it shows how strong we are together. Hopefully, we can kick on from here."
Argyle's youngsters are in very good hands, according to new under-15s coach David Byrne. Former Argyle winger Byrne, willingly accepted an invitation to 'work with the kids' this season, and is impressed by what he has seen of the Home Park youth set-up so far. And Byrne, who holds a UEFA 'A' coaching licence, senses Ian Holloway is someone who is aware of the importance to a club in Argyle's financial and geographical position, of a flourishing youth department. "I've been wanting to get involved with coaching at a good club for some time now and I was delighted to accept the job when Stuart Gibson asked me," said Byrne. "I've got a UEFA 'A' Licence which means I'm able not only to coach players, but also help others who are already working for their coaching badges. And working with the under-15 kids is absolutely brilliant - they're a great bunch of lads. But with Stuart and Chris Souness, I reckon Argyle's youngsters are in a really good hands. And, I think that, Ollie, is a believer in youth development, so that's also very helpful for the department. At the moment, I take them for one evening a week, but I would like to increase that, if at all possible. Not only to improve them, but also because of the age of the lads, they will be playing against lads mainly a year older than themselves. But all the coaches here have the same problem - the under-18s this year will be competing against men in the South Western League and the under-16s playing against 18-year-olds and so on." Byrne has recently helped Torquay boss Ian Atkins with coaching at Plainmoor and admitted it had been rewarding, but Argyle come first. "Yes, it was nice to be able to help out at Torquay," he said. "I know Ian Atkins and it was good to work with the old Argyle boys like Mickey Evans, Craig Taylor and Martin Phillips - they were all very co-operative and helpful. But my true goal is to stay at Argyle and help Stuart and his staff produce talent for the future. It's about getting the ABC of football into the lads' heads - Ability, Balance and Co-ordination. It's not about results as such - it's about being able to get two or three boys through to the scholarship scheme at Argyle, that counts." Gibson is more than happy to have Byrne aboard. He said: "It's a win-win situation for both myself and the club, to be honest. Not only does Dave possess the coaching credentials to help the lads and the other staff members, but his enthusiasm is infectious. Dave is happy to do that and that can only be good for the future of the club - because the young players are the future."
Anthony Mason has been called into the Republic of Ireland Under-19 side to play in two friendly internationals against Ukraine in Galway next week
Ian Holloway hailed his side's victory at Colchester United, and warned his players to expect to come under similar pressure in the future. Holloway saw his players deal with wave upon wave of direct and highly physical football before maintaining his unbeaten start the season. "I've never seen such a lot of big fellas in my life," he said. "We have to deal with that. Football people talk about the right pass but, late on in the game, you have got to be able to deal with a barrage like that. I'm very happy we did. I thought we got our bodies in the way of things, and won it with a quality goal. Whether we deserved to, who knows? I don't really care. I'm on the way home; I've got four points in the bag; thanks very much. That's what being away in the Championship is like - backs against the wall - it always is. If you want to come away with one point, that's great, but we got three. It's a hell of a long journey home, and we got three points - take it off us now if you can. You can't. It's never easy when you come here: I think I was 3-1 up at one time and we lost 4-3. They did exactly what they did there - smashed it - and we have got to be able to deal with that. They were almost playing 4-2-4 at the end and we have got to deal with that. We did that but what we have got to do is do more once we have got the ball. They will learn. I'm finding out about them. It was a fantastic effort. It's a difficult place to come." Despite Argyle's slender lead, Holloway made two attacking substitutions in the second half, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Bojan Djordjic. Holloway said: "I think I shocked them by putting a couple of attackers on. Whether they thought I was going to try to shore it up, I don't know. But part of defending is attacking, and we have got to learn that. Sometimes you have got to do what it takes to win a game, and that's what this lot have got to realise. I felt they did that tonight, and I couldn't ask for much more. I'm very proud of them. That's four points out of six and we should have nothing to fear at Sunderland." Holloway believes Argyle played better securing one point against Wolves than they did last night. "We probably didn't start well," he said. "We didn't play anything like as well as we did on Saturday. That's football. It's about time we learnt we have got to be more resilient away from home, and start believing." Holloway praised Luke Summerfield and revealed he had no hesitation in bringing him in to replace Lilian Nalis. "I lost Lilian Nalis," he said. "I think the kid's good enough, so I put him in and he proved it. I liked my team on Saturday. I thought we were solid. We're away from home and he's a midfield player. I didn't need to change positions. I think he's going to be a very, very good player. He took a knock which is why I brought him off. We are a little bit short on the ground with bodies. We have got to try to bring in a couple more if we can, but I can't ask any more from these lads." Holloway also gave a debut to Gary Sawyer, as a second-half substitute. He said: "I think Gary Sawyer did ever so well when he came on, putting him on in a situation like that when they're absolutely throwing everything and the kitchen sink at us." Holloway dedicated the victory to the supporters who made a six-hour journey from Devon to Essex. He said: "When you think how far the fans have come to watch a Tuesday night game it doesn't really make sense and I'd like to thank them all for coming."
Luke Summerfield refused to take all the credit for the victory against Colchester United. "I thought I might as well have a shot and it paid off. It got the lads three points so I'm delighted with it," he said. "That's what it's for. You don't work for yourself, you work for the team. I thought the lads, in the second half, were absolutely incredible. From the forwards down to the back-four, everyone was incredible defensively, and they deserve it, not me." Summerfield admitted that it had been a dream first start, even though he was replaced after an hour due to a minor knock. "I couldn't ask for any more," he said. "It's been a great experience just to get a first start, but the goal capped it off, and it made it even better with three points for the lads. I was a little nervous but you have to be to get the best out of it." Summerfields talents have already been compared to dad Kevin's, and he added: "I take it as a compliment, but, at the end of the day, I've got to be my own person. My future is down to me, no-one else. I've got to work at it to the best of my ability with the gaffer and all the players. They have been absolutely brilliant for me. It's all for them." Summerfield's immediate aim is now to keep his place in the starting line-up for the visit to Sunderland. "I've done no injustice to my place," he said. "I'll work hard in the next couple of days and see what happens."
Argyle won 1-0 at Colchester United, the goal scored by Luke Summerfield after 30 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Summerfield, Capaldi, Chadwick, Hayles. Subs - Ebanks-Blake, Sawyer, Djordjic (not used - Barness, Reid). Attendance - 4,627.
Tony Capaldi and Lee Hodges took turns at the left-back position during the draw with Wolves on Saturday and Hodges thought it worked well. He said: "The gaffer was happy for me and Tony to play left-back and left midfield, and that's what we did. If Tony wanted to push on he did. If not, I did and it seemed to work. I thought it was really good." Hodges was frustrated that Argyle did not take all three points against Wolves. He said: "I think their goalkeeper was the difference between us drawing and winning. I don't think we could fault our performance. We did everything we could and we are disappointed we only came out of it with a draw. Luke really had nothing to do, although he said he saved that one at the end that was given as a goal kick. Other than that, he didn't have a lot to do and their keeper has pulled off some great saves. We came in and were all so disappointed we had only drawn the game but the gaffer said he was really proud of us. Everyone looks forward to the first game of the season and there were a lucky 11 who got chosen to play in it. All you can do is give it your all and, hopefully, impress because there are boys who can come on and do the same job as you." Hodges admitted the humid weather on Saturday did not make it easy for the players. He added: "It was very hot out there. It was a typical first day of the season. There was no air." Argyle now face away trips to Colchester and Sunderland, but Hodges insisted they were only focussing on the first one. He said: "Colchester is another big game. We aren't off to a winning start but we haven't been beaten either."
Luke Summerfield could make his first start for Argyle when they play Colchester United tonight, following the injury to Lilian Nalis. Ian Holloway said: "Lilian will probably be out for the next two games, but, if anybody can play on with it, I'm told it's him, so don't rule him out of Saturday just yet. I have got to think about whether I move Hodges or Norris inside and put Bojan out wide, or play young Summers, who I have been very impressed with. Colchester play 4-1-3-2 so it's a slightly different system and they are very strong down the middle of the pitch. I didn't want to have to make any changes because I thought it was a very good performance on Saturday but one has been forced on me. It's something to think about." Djordjic substituted for Nalis against Wolves and put in a decent display. Holloway said: "Bojan did ever so well when he came on. I want to get him to run at people more." Akos Buzsaky has been added to the Argyle squad and could be included on the substitutes' bench. Holloway said: "It's a bit too early for Akos but we haven't got a game for him to play in until Saturday so I thought we might as well take him with us. If I have got to use him then fine. He looks a fantastic footballer and I can't wait to work with him." Stuart Gibson believes Summerfield is ready for the step-up from reserve team football. He said: "Luke has been in and around the first team squad for 15 months so I think he has served his apprenticeship. He has bided his time, worked hard at his game and if he gets an opportunity he fully deserves it. He's a conscientious lad and looks after himself away from the game. It helps that he has a father who was a professional footballer to point him in the right direction. I have known him since he was 13 or 14 and he has only ever had one ambition - to play football. That has been his driving force."
David Norris played for Argyle on their last visit to Colchester in 2003, and knows it is a difficult place for visiting sides .He said: "When you get into this league, for the first few games of the season you are still buzzing from your promotion the previous year. I'm sure Colchester will be up for it and will have a decent crowd behind them, but we have prepared for tonight the right way. We had a warm-down on Sunday and we flew up yesterday so there are no excuses for us not to put in a performance." When Argyle beat Colchester 2-0 in 2003 they scored both goals in the opening 11 minutes and Norris added: "I think that was one of the best results of that season because it's not an easy place to go to. I hate playing there. It's a horrible little ground. We know what it's all about as there are still quite a lot of players at the club who were here then." Norris was encouraged by Argyle's display in the draw against Wolves but disappointed that victory eluded them. He said: "We put a lot into it, especially in the first half, and it was good to go in at 1-0 because at least we got some reward for our efforts. It was a very lucky goal they got, and with it being so early in the second half it did deflate us a bit, but we came back from that and we had a few chances to win the game." Wolves goalkeeper Matt Murray made a series of fine saves, perhaps the best one came when Norris hit a low right-foot shot late in the game. Norris said: "I actually thought it was in, just because it had gone through a couple of players' legs, but it was a great save to turn it around the corner. We were at home and we thought the three points were there for the taking, but we will take some plusses out of our performance and how hard we worked. It's still quite early days with the manager and getting to know what he wants us to do, but we are getting there."
Ian Holloway knows his team will need to be on top of their game this evening. "We've got to earn the right to play against anybody," he said. "Colchester lost very narrowly at the weekend, and the report I've had says they played well and were unlucky to lose. They lost some good players in the summer but they got some quality ones in as well. When you are used to winning, like they have been, it becomes a habit so we have got to go there and play our best to get anything. But I'm very confident we can do that. We haven't been that good on our travels in the Championship. We've only scored one goal in our last eight away games, and I've got to try and put that right." Asked if he was happy with the standard of service given to his strikers on Saturday, Holloway said: "It's early in the season, isn't it? That quality sometimes isn't there, but when you're under pressure out there on the park you try and pick the right ball. It isn't always about nice, pretty football. I thought we did really well on Saturday. One or two of the passes didn't quite go where we wanted them to, but it's early days yet. Some of the football we played I was quite encouraged by."
Damian Davey was Argyle's stand-in physio against Wolves on Saturday as Paul Maxwell is serving a two-match touchline ban. Maxwell said: "I have known Damo since I was seven-years-old and he's probably my best mate. When I was studying to be a physio he let me go along to Torquay and that helped me a lot. Ian Leigh was unavailable on Saturday and I have got the utmost trust in Damo. If I had to rely on anyone to cover for me it would be him." Maxwell added: "He reckons he's the only person to have played for Argyle, Torquay and Exeter and been the physio for all of them as well!" Davey will also be on duty at Layer Road tonight before Maxwell takes over for the visit to Sunderland on Saturday
Barry Hayles launched his Argyle career with a goal on Saturday - but only after winning a friendly argument with Nick Chadwick over the identity of the scorer in the draw with Wolves. Hayles got a foot to Tony Capaldi's cross and Chadwick also made contact with his head - but, according to replays, only after it had crossed the line. "I think someone has got something against me!" Chadwick said. "Barry has done great and he's had a shot. It's deflected up in the air and I wasn't sure if there was anybody behind me coming in to clear it off the line. I thought it was best to run in and make sure. Between us, we made sure we scored. If it gets credited to Baz then I will have to accept it. As long as we score as a side, that's all that matters." Hayles did not know for sure that he had scored until he was told about the film footage. He said: "I had the first touch and it spun up in the air. I wasn't sure if it was over the line or not but, if it's down to me, then I'm happy with that! I would have done exactly the same as him because it could have been hooked away and the linesman might not have given it." Chadwick added: "I thought we deserved to take three points. I think they only had one shot on target and unfortunately it spun up in the air and went in the top corner. I thought we were unlucky to draw the game and we caused them all sorts of problems, not just us two but the team in general." Hayles agreed. "We played really well, I thought," he said. "We kept the ball well and kept our shape too. I'm settling in really well, and I'm very pleased with how it's going."
Lilian Nalis will miss Argyle's game against Colchester United tomorrow after picking up an ankle ligament injury on Saturday. Ian Holloway said: "He probably will not be fit for Tuesday, at least, so that stretches us a bit, but it gives somebody else an opportunity." That somebody could well be Luke Summerfield. Holloway added: "I have been very impressed with young Summers. He has got a chance of being as good as his dad, if not better, and his dad was one hell of a player, so I'm delighted with him. We need a weight room because I need to get that into him. Seriously, I'm not joking. He's about four or five months away from being built how he can be, but everything else he does absolutely fantastically well. He will be knocking on my door pretty soon saying 'why aren't you picking me?' but I probably will be picking him."
Nick Chadwick was chosen by Ian Holloway on Saturday after scoring twice in a practice match at Harper's Park earlier in the week, and also netting four times during the club's pre-season friendlies. Holloway said: "He has got some Championship games under his belt and I think he's a very good player. We paid £250,000 for him, which is more than Sylvan, and I have been very impressed with him. What I have said all along is that I have got a very good group of people here and I want to add to them. I don't want to start replacing them already. That's not right. They have done superbly well in the last couple of years but I think I need to add to them."
Ian Holloway spoke of his pride after his opening match with Argyle ended all square against Wolves. He said:"We'll win some, we'll lose some, we'll draw some, but it's about the performance and I was very proud of them. We've got a long way to go - haven't been here long - but I am very pleased. There were some good signs there. It's not about how much you spend. It's about your spirit. I was proud of them. I've got my first point for the Green Army; I felt it could have been all three. It's a very emotional day for me. The response I got from the crowd was absolutely marvellous - but, unfortunately, we didn't win. I felt we had done enough to deserve it. We had a sight more chances than they did but, unfortunately, we didn't turn that into goals. On another day all you have to do is to keep making chances and that's what pleased me most." Holloway elected to give a start to Nick Chadwick, in place of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, and he said: "People might have raised some eyebrows about Ebanks-Blake not starting, but he's one for the future. I need to work with him, and I've been very impressed with him. But what I've said all along is I've got a very good group of people here, and I want to add to them. I think they have done superbly well here over the last couple of years." Holloway faces going to Colchester on Tuesday without Lilian Nalis, who was injured during the match. Luke Summerfield is already in his mind as a replacement. "I've only got one downer," said Holloway, "That's Lilian's foot. He probably won't be fit for Tuesday, at least, so that stretches us, but it gives someone else an opportunity. I've been very impressed with young Summers. He's got a hell of a chance of being as good as, if not better than his dad - and his dad was one hell of a player." Holloway admitted his search for new players was not over. "I think we need a big header of the ball because it was like the Land of the Giants out there. I'm only a little bloke and I'd have needed a step-ladder to win some of those balls in the air. That's football - you have to be strong in both boxes. I thought some of our defending was terrific."
Argyle drew 1-1 with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Home Park, the goal scored by Barry Hayles after 35 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Kouo-Doumbe, Aljofree, Hodges, Norris, Wotton, Nalis, Capaldi, Chadwick, Hayles. Subs - Ebanks-Blake, Djordjic (not used - Barness, Summerfield, Reid). Attendance - 15,964.
Paul Stapleton is looking to put an eventful summer behind him and welcome a new dawn when Argyle kick-off their season this afternoon. "I feel I've been a little bit away from the action as I've been on holiday for two weeks," he said. "I know Ian's had a few trialists here and possibly there may be other new additions to the squad in the pipeline. We got him the two forwards he wanted, we paid the money he wanted, so he's happy with that." Stapleton is confident the club can build on previous campaigns. "We've finished 17th and 14th in the last two Championship seasons," he said. "I think we have to say we are an established side in the division and we shouldn't be thinking are we going to be in bottom two, three, four or five. We have to look at it and say: 'We know our place and we've got to push on and progress from there'. It's never easy in this league when you look at the teams in it, but let's have a battle and show them what Plymouth is all about." Despite a fall in season-ticket sales, Stapleton remains upbeat and says that supporters will have a big part to play in the club's fortunes. He added: "A former manager said to me only the other day: 'You've got an advantage' and I said: 'What's that?' He replied: 'You're at Plymouth, no-one likes going there - that's your fortress, that's your strength'. Ian Holloway understands that and he also understands about getting players here. He understands that when he talks to a lad at Manchester United that Plymouth is not at the other end of the earth. We've had problems in the past both with players and managers over that, but Ian is living here, which helps, and he has brought a fresh, enthusiastic approach to the job. He is positive about everything and, although I've only seen one friendly, my understanding is there has been a lot of ball played on the ground. He is doing the right job at the moment and long may that continue." Stapleton believes that the club's investment in Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake shows the desire to push on this season. "To finish 14th after all the trials and tribulations of last year was a great achievement," he said. "We had to pay a lot of money out to get rid of players that the new manager did not want and the old manager did, and we also had to pay two managers for a time, which caused us a lot of anguish. We want a period of stability now, and we've seen in Ian Holloway that he is the man for the long term. He's stayed at two clubs for five years, so he's not someone who wants to rush off, he's someone who wants to sit down with a plan and work at it." Tony Pulis' departure from Devon was far from smooth, and even now Stapleton is far from happy at the way things turned out. "Tony Pulis probably wants to be your best friend, but he hasn't gone about doing it the best way," he said. "He hasn't left me in a very good frame of mind, really, with what he's done or what he's said. I just don't like that. I'm an honourable person, a professional person, but I don't like people who do things in a certain manner, like he did."
Tony Capaldi wants Argyle to aim higher and, after 17th and then 14th-place finishes, push on towards the top half of the table this season. He knows it will not be easy, though. "We've still got to be careful," he said. "We've done well to establish ourselves now, with 14th position last year, but we'll still have to work hard. There are a lot of tough teams in this division. It will be about getting the structure of the team right again and putting the manager's ideas into practice, and hopefully we can kick on from last year." Capaldi has mostly found himself being used in defence in pre-season friendlies and hopes that his versatility will be a bonus rather than a hindrance when it comes to maintaining his place in the team. "I just want to be in the team," he said. "I don't mind where I play, I'll do my best wherever the gaffer asks me to play. If I do play left-back, my strengths are going to be the attacking side of my game, although I know I have to do the defensive work." At times during the friendly fixtures Capaldi has shown a good understanding with Bojan Djordjic, and he added: "Bojan is a talented player, and when we have played together we've linked up well, but there are other players who can play on the left-hand side of the pitch. There's competition for places, and you just have to work hard in training and hopefully you'll be in the team." Argyle fans can expect to see some more attractive football this season, which should suit Capaldi, but he warned: "The main thing is to get results. We've done the hard work and we've sorted out the structure and organisation of the team. If we can add a little bit more football and a bit more flair, then I'm sure the fans would enjoy it, but I don't think the fans would enjoy us watching playing good football and getting beaten every week. It's important that we get the right mix." Last season Capaldi's long throws were a major part of Argyle's tactics, but he has not been asked to produce any so far this summer. "I've not spoken to the gaffer about my long throws," he said. "I don't know if he's aware I can do it or not, but it's up to him. We haven't really got a big striker to hit, like we had with Mickey Evans, so we need to try and shorten our game a bit and be more creative." Capaldi has been named in Northern Ireland's squad for a friendly against Finland and if he plays in his country's next three games, he will become Argyle's most-capped player. For now though, his priority is winning points. "We'll have the chance to work on a few things in the friendly," he said, "and then we've got some big qualifying games coming up in September. At international level, if you lose one or two games you have no chance of qualifying, so you have to start well in any group. We're in another tough group with some good teams, but we've proved in the past we can get results against top-quality opposition." Northern Ireland's tour to the US meant Capaldi did not have as long a summer break as the rest of his team-mates. He said: "It was a bit of an awkward time, three weeks after the end of the season and four weeks before the start of pre-season, but it went well. I kept myself ticking over a little bit at the end of the season and we went over there and played two decent teams and saw some of the sights. It was a shame about the results but it was a young squad and it gave a lot of young players some experience. We played really well against Uruguay but Romania are a good side and they showed more quality than we had. The preparation for the games wasn't ideal. We did a lot of walking about and sight-seeing. Once we had against played Uruguay, we had two days of our own time in New York to look around. We didn't prepare like we would for a World Cup qualifier, but it was still a good experience." While Capaldi did not have as long a break as he usually would, he does not believe it will adversely effect him this season. He said: "Usually, I would like to have a good four or five weeks rest, and then start doing my runs maybe two or three weeks before the start of pre-season. Instead, this year I did a few runs at the end of the season but I didn't really do much at all when I came back from America. When I began pre-season my fitness was a little bit lower than it should be, but I feel fine now."
Michael Dunford believes this season could prove to be a pivotal one in terms of Argyle establishing themselves as a Championship force. He said: "We have got to look forward to the new season. One or two people in the game, I think, will sit up and take notice of Argyle. We are now established two years into the Championship and we have given a good account of ourselves. Now is the time to really put our footprint on it and say 'right, we are Plymouth Argyle, we are playing at Home Park and this is not going to be an easy place to come to for anybody'. It never has been. There is a huge buzz around the club at the moment since the arrival of Ian and the new faces who have come to the club - Sylvan and Barry - with possibly more to come in the near future. Once we kick off against Wolves, then that is when we will be judged, but if you can't get excited about a new season, then you shouldn't be in this game. We are all looking forward to it and I'm particularly looking forward to it because it's the first time I have worked with Ian Holloway. He's an infectious character and I'm certain the supporters will warm to him. I'm also certain Ian's presence will have a bearing on the attendances we get at the club, but what dictates gates is how well the team are doing, and he knows that. When we had the lull between Tony leaving us - and we wish Tony well at Stoke, it was his decision to go - we were left holding the reins. But Ian came in and he's really excited about the opportunity the board gave him to come and work at Argyle. He is a West Country lad and he knows how much Plymouth needs a thriving football club and he wants to play a major part in that. Our job is to support him to achieve that." Dunford admits the Championship is a hugely competitive league, but he feels if the club were to maintain the improvement of last season it should be regarded as a huge success. "It is very easy to get out of when you are slipping down it, but we want to go the other way," he said. "I think this season our supporters and people who work in the club will, for the first time, be looking towards the top of the table rather than over our shoulder. Hopefully, that is the case, without making any rash predictions, but there is a feel-good factor." Dunford would like to see Ian Holloway remain at the club for some years to bring stability to Home Park, but has also called for patience from supporters while the new manager becomes accustomed to his position. "I would like to get five years under Ian, because if anyone stays at a club for five years, you can bet your bottom dollar there has been a reasonable level of success in that period," said Dunford. "Yes, we want stability, we want success, we want to entertain people and we want our supporters to come back in larger numbers, but it is a chicken and egg situation, what comes first? We are in the entertainment industry - it's about giving supporters a feeling it's their club. We are simply custodians for a short period of time - we are lucky enough to work here. The supporters have to pay hard-earned money to come and watch their team, home and away - it's an expensive occupation and we have got to be thankful for them. Hopefully, all the supporters will give Ian and his team a chance to prove themselves, to gel together."
Gary Sawyer is desperate to make an impact at Home Park after spending the last two seasons on loan at Exeter City. He said: "Obviously, the standard of play is a lot different to what it is at Exeter but the boys have been brilliant in getting me back into it. I think I can play at this level, that's why I have come back. I will give it the best shot I can and if it comes off then great. If it doesn't, then I will move on." Sawyer found the experience of regular first team football at such a young age, even at Conference level, invaluable. He said: "Ideally, I would rather not have been out on loan for the two years - I would only have been out for the one - but I'm not complaining. It worked really well for me." Towards the end of last season Sawyer began training once a week with Argyle. He said: "I spoke to Tony Pulis about coming in and that helped, just to break the ice with the boys. They brought a lot of new players in while I was at Exeter - there are more foreign players for example than when I was here before - so it was nice to be introduced into it slowly, one day a week. It was only a couple of weeks at the end of the season because Exeter had a lot of fixtures, but it got me back into the fold and they could have a look at me as well." Sawyer signed a new 12-month contract over the summer and knows it could be make or break for him this season. He said: "I knew I wanted to come back to Argyle - that was always my goal. It was never to stay at Exeter. I made that clear to them. I just kept myself focused and it helped me with the Conference being such a hard league to play in physically. I think it brought me on a lot. I have just turned 21 and I have played 70-odd games and, hopefully, that will stand me in good stead." Ian Holloway has commented in pre-season that he has been impressed by the attitude of Sawyer, who added: "He seems to be happy with me, so I will just carry on the way I'm going at the moment. He has been brilliant and I think he's really good for everyone at the club. I really want to give it a shot this season. I'm going to knuckle down and see if I can get involved in the first team. If I can, then brilliant." Sawyer played at left-back for Argyle in the youth squad but he was moved to central defence at Exeter. He said: "I like both positions but to go to left-back now, it's hard to change because I have played centre-half for so long now. I think I would need a little bit of a run maybe in training, to play left-back before I could be chucked into a game. We have got quite a people who can play left-back at the club, but not necessarily an actual left-back. With me being one of them, I'm trying to hold a place down." Sawyer enjoyed Argyle's training camp in Loipersdorf and found it beneficial. He said: "It was the first one I had ever done with all the boys and, for me, it was really exciting. I tried to make sure I got the most out of it I could. It wasn't a holiday, but it wasn't supposed to be. Pre-season is hard work and it's horrible doing it, but I would rather be as fit as I can be and then I know my football will be better." Sawyer's target is to break into the Argyle first team at some stage. He said: "I have never had a shirt made for myself at Argyle, which is one of those things I have always wanted, and I have got that now. To come from the Conference to a Championship side and play every week is not going to happen. It will take time but, in the long run, I hope I can hold a place down."
David Norris may have scooped all of the player-of-the-year awards last season but believes his best is still to come. He said: "I think the biggest thing last season was that I was more consistent than I had ever been, performance-wise. But there are always ways of improving your game and there are a lot of things I want to achieve that I didn't achieve last season. Hopefully, I can do that and keep the consistency of my performances. My goalscoring record is one major thing I would like to improve. I think we are probably going to play slightly different than we have done the last couple of seasons, so it might give me more chance to express myself. I'm just looking for an overall improvement on my game." Norris admitted his confidence had suffered as scoring opportunities came and went last season. He said: "For most of it, it wasn't like I was missing clear 'sitters'. I hit the keeper a lot and most of them tended to be on my left foot. I went through a couple of games in a row, where I missed chances and I think it affected my confidence in front of goal. I didn't really recover after that. Hopefully, if I can score one or two goals early this season then maybe it might set me up to get going. One thing I do know - I will keep getting in those positions and I will keep letting fly with shots." Goals have been hard to come by for Argyle over the past two seasons, and Norris added: "Goals have tended to come from other positions in seasons gone by, but I think this season we have definitely got a great chance of having our first 15 or 20-goal-a-season striker. Sylv has come in and his quality in front of goal is just different class. You give him one or two chances in training and he will score. I have been very impressed. As for Barry, his movement and know-how is second to none, and we have also got Chadders and Reuben. Chadders has had a good pre-season so I'm sure he will be as confident as anyone. I think we have got a great chance of finishing the season with a striker as top scorer." Norris admitted he felt more relaxed now his long-term future had been resolved. He said: "It was done early in pre-season and has definitely made a big difference for me. I can just concentrate on the playing side now."
Paul Maxwell has revealed he had the chance to follow Tony Pulis to Stoke City this summer. But he admitted the persuasive powers of Ian Holloway had been very influential in his decision to agree a new three-year contract. He said: "I had to get my future sorted out in the summer for my family and for myself. I thought we did magnificently last season and Tony, and his staff of Kempy, Des and Lindsay deserve massive credit for that. Tony was different class to me and I'm still good friends with him now. There was talk about me going to Stoke throughout the summer, but I love Argyle. Being a player here and now being the physio for seven years, it's in my blood, really. Ollie came in and he's such an enthusiastic and positive person that he can get inside your mind. He was fantastic, really. He spoke well to me and he spoke well of me and I appreciate what he did in order to make me sign. He was a big factor in it. I'm grateful to Tony for what he has done for me, but Ollie has come in and, even though I have only known him for a short while, he has been great to work with. The Board were good to me and Michael Dunford deserves a mention because he was true to his word." Maxwell is popular with the players, and he added: "I know all the lads and we have been doing stuff for seven years now which we can continue. Ollie is a very, very fitness orientated man, as Tony was, so I don't think, on my side of it too much will change. I think there was a bit of doom and gloom, in and around Plymouth, about the club. But the buzz Ollie has brought in, from my own point of view and I know from the players' as well, is absolutely unbelievable. I have never met anyone like him in my life. The positivity that comes out of the man is unreal. He really has lifted the whole club and I honestly do think we will have a good season." Holloway and Maxwell have been joined on the training ground by Des Bulpin. The players usually start their day with a warm-up session with Maxwell before moving on to tactical and technical work with Holloway and Bulpin. Maxwell said: "Des is getting on well with everyone as well. He's a similar type of character to Ollie. He's a laugh-a-minute but when it's work, it's work." Maxwell believes the excellent facilities on the pre-season tour will be very beneficial as the new season starts. He said: "The place we stayed in out in Austria was fantastic. It was a different story to Sweden last year. Just being in an environment like that, makes it a lot more professional. We have got players that are coming from a higher level and they can see things are being done properly. That comes right from the top and, hopefully, we can keep doing that. We have got to be grateful to the Board and people like that, but that is the only way to go forward. I think the lads appreciate that and you are going to get a better response from them. If they are in a good environment, they are going to work harder." Argyle have often had relatively small squads in recent times but, under Maxwell's supervision, they have stayed injury-free. He said: "The physio side of my job takes care of itself. The fitness side, I think, helps prevent the physio being so difficult. I can prevent the injuries from happening by doing the stretching programmes, the weights and the warm-ups before they go out and play. It's a nice position to be in because, hopefully, I can assist one job by doing another. And, if I can do that, that will help Ollie pick from a fully-fit squad every week."
Stuart Gibson believes the six, new youth apprentices signed up by the club all have the potential to make a mark at Home Park. He said: "All six youngsters, Karl Byrne, Shane Duggan, Toby Davis, Daniel Gosling, Bobby Hopkinson and Shane White, are excellent players. We are very pleased with this intake and I believe it sets a high criteria for the players we will look to bring in next season. At the moment, I have got 12 apprentices, so I have got six spaces left. If I don't fill those six places, I don't fill those six places. I want quality - the best have to train with the best. The six new players all have ability and they have made it very hard for future potential apprentices." Gosling has already tasted first-team action, on the tour of Austria last month, replacing Reuben Reid in the 82nd minute against Real Madrid. "It was a nice experience for him to be involved in something like that at such a young age," said Gibson. "He has only just left school and he has just done his GCSEs, so to go on and play against Real Madrid is land of fantasy. But the good thing about that lad is his feet are firmly on the ground and he has had a very good upbringing. I have known him since he was 11-12 years of age and that is the magic about this group - that four of them I have known since they were 11 or 12. They set the standard now and it is up to us to bring players in who match that standard." Byrne and Duggan are both Irish midfielders and Gibson is delighted Argyle have attracted young talent from across the sea and he does not care about where a player comes from, as long as he is good enough. "I had a meeting with John James when we were riding high in the old Second Division and it was going to be our second promotion in two years," said Gibson. "We thought 'we have got to do something here' - we didn't have enough quality coming through to the standard we wanted - so we had to stretch our network. We looked at all the options and the contacts we had and one of those we looked towards was Ireland. We have worked hard. We haven't got buckets of money to spend, we are working on good faith with people and touch wood, so far it has worked. They come here, we see what we want and we take them if we think they are of the calibre we think we are looking for. At the moment, the manager has said 'I don't care where they come from as long as they are good players'."
Ian Holloway believes Paul Stapleton will bring the best out of him as a manager. He said: "I think Paul Sturrock's relationship with Paul Stapleton is almost legendary. I believe Ian Holloway, as a person, has been looking for someone like Paul Stapleton, who is as straight as a dye. He's someone who says 'no' sometimes and means it. It's only the same as I have tried to bring my children up. If you keep saying 'yes' all the time you have got spoiled brats. If you keep saying 'no' you have got bullied people. Somewhere along the line you need to have a conversation and then the behaviour is right. I believe we have got a very good chance of striking up an excellent partnership." Holloway has also enjoyed working alongside Michael Dunford. He said: "I have to say, I think Michael is fantastic, so we have got everything in place."
Tony Capaldi believes Argyle will play with more attacking flair under Ian Holloway than they did when Tony Pulis was manager. He said: "Anyone who has ever seen Ian on TV or spoken to him personally will know he's a very enthusiastic, very bubbly character. I'm sure he's going to bring that to the squad. Under Pulis we were very regimented and a very hard working, strong outfit. I think he wants to bring a little bit more ability and quality to the side. It will be interesting to see what happens at the start of this season." Capaldi realises, however, that Argyle must not neglect the strengths that have seen them become established in the Championship over the last two years. He said: "It's important we keep the workrate and the discipline in the squad, but with a little bit more quality we could be a threat this season. It's about mixing the two together. We can't just be a 'Fancy Dan' flair team. If you take away what we have done over the last three seasons then we might struggle." Holloway's positive approach has rubbed off on everyone at Home Park, and Capaldi is no exception. He added: "I don't know where he gets all his energy from. I think he charges himself up when he goes to bed at night." Capaldi is now one of the more experienced players in the squad. Seven of the players who were involved against Real Madrid were 20 or younger. "It's good to see, to be honest," said Capaldi, who now plays for the seniors and not the juniors in training matches. "All the young players that have come in haven't looked out of place at all. When I went away with Northern Ireland this summer I was in the 'olds' as well so I'm getting used to it now!"
Despite playing a 4-4-2 formation in all their pre-season friendlies, Ian Holloway has conceded that he may change things around during the season, depending on the opposition Argyle are up against. "I believe in having at least three players in your team who can hurt the opposition," he said. It depends who is fit and it depends who we are against because probably a lot of games we won't start as favourites on paper, so I may have to make it hard for us to be broken down and do things on the counter-attack. I am very fortunate to sill have David Norris who I am still learning about, and he needs to be given a bit of a free role sometimes because he can pop up everywhere with his energy and hopefully cause havoc. When everybody is fit we have got some very talented boys, so we will see who is in or out of form, but it is all about what you do when you haven't got the ball and how quickly you can regain your shape and discipline." Holloway still feels that his squad still lacks a little bit of height and that Sylvan Ebanks-Blake has got plenty to learn about first-team football. "I brought Sylvan here for the future and I don't want to get it wrong," said Holloway. "He has got to learn to deal with expectation and he has got nothing to draw on because he has never played, so he is hungry. I have to make sure I get the balance right and I am delighted to have both Sylvan and Barry to add to what we already have. When I see the right players I will try and get them, and I do think there is a lack of height in our team sometimes and we have got to do a bit better in both boxes." Holloway feels that sometimes his team will be forced to play a long ball out of defence, and he knows that his forwards will have to adapt and learn to cope with that kind of pass. He said: "In football, people talk about what sort of style are you going to play, but you have to hit long balls at times because teams put you under pressure and push you close to your goal. We have lost our main asset when that happened because Micky Evans would lean into people or flick the ball on. I haven't got that even with Hayles, and Chadwick has got to learn to do it a bit. Sylvan is quite aggressive in his play but that is not his natural game, and I have got to make sure that we are not to easy to mark when it comes to playing a long ball. I am more than happy with what I have got and I am trying to look for like-minded people who want to be here and believe in us and the city because this club belongs to the city of Plymouth. I am so proud when people turn up with their Green shirts on and I want to be in their minds. I have a dream and everybody has got to buy into it, and I know the board have, my players have, and some of the fans I met the other night have - brilliant, let us keep it all going. These are all words and I am sick of it; I want action now." A couple of names in Holloway's first team selection tomorrow are hard to predict, but the manager has made his mind up. "I know what my starting XI is," he said. "I played them in a training game the other day, against a side picked from the rest of the squad, and they won 5-1. It was the first time I've picked what I feel is my strongest team at the moment and, looking at the way Wolves are likely to play, I know what I want to try and do. There will be some exciting options on the bench, so I can change things if need be."
Akos Buzsaky has returned to training. He will not be involved against Wolves, but Ian Holloway has still been heartened by it. Holloway said: "Akos is out there running and training, which is good news. He joined in for the first time yesterday. We will maybe pop him in a game next week. He has got to earn the right to get back in the fold, but I'm very pleased with how he looked in training."
Phase Two of the redevelopment of Home Park is still very much in the pipeline, according to Michael Dunford. This is the third and final season that Argyle will have special dispensation to use the Mayflower Terrace before having to convert to an all-seat stadium. Dunford said: "It is high on the agenda. It's being worked on as we speak. I know we have probably been saying that now for a couple of years, but until it's right and everything fits into place the board will simply not make a rash step into the unknown. There is progress being made and at the appropriate time an announcement will be made and then we can look forward."
Sylvan Ebanks-Blake is ready to savour his first taste of league football, if selected by Ian Holloway tomorrow. "It will be a brilliant moment in my career, if I can play a part in that game," he said. "It's the start of new things for me. I'm 20 years old and I'm just chomping at the bit. I'm really hungry to play football and I can't wait to get going." His purchase fee was a sizeable sum for Argyle but he is not worried about that. "I don't really feel pressure," he said. "I'm very confident in my ability and I feel I can deliver what they've brought me here to do. You have to pay for players and sometimes it's ridiculous, but I've been brought here to do a job and that's play football and not worry about how much I was bought for. That's what I'll do, work hard and try and score goals for the team and do my job." Ebanks-Blake was well looked after at Old Trafford, but they could not promise him was first-team football. That is why he is at Home Park now. "I'm here to learn from the manager and the other players," he added, "and I'm looking forward to playing against men week in, week out. I'm settling in OK. I've got to know the lads, and they're getting to know how I play and I'm getting to know how they play. Each day has been a progression, so it's been very beneficial. I feel very fit and up to scratch with the lads, and I'm raring to go." Ebanks-Blake is already learning a lot from Barry Hayles. "Barry is a great person and a great player as well, with a lot of experience," he said. "I've had the privilege of sharing a hotel with him and speaking to him, and just learning from him. He's passing on the knowledge he's gained from all his years in the game, and it's been good. He's a great person to have about the club, and it can only help." Ebanks-Blake believes the tactical work Argyle have done in pre-season is reaching fruition. "Definitely," he said, "but the gaffer doesn't want to completely change the style of play. He just wants to add things to us, and each day we're learning. It takes time, these things don't happen overnight, but with each training session we'll get better and we'll get to know how he wants us to play." Ebanks-Blake has not come to Argyle to endure a battle against relegation. "There's a good bunch of honest lads here who work hard for each other and we all get on well," he added. "I don't see why we can't improve on last season and even sneak in the back door of the play-offs. You've got to be optimistic. There's no point going into a season saying you're prepared to fight a relegation battle because then your targets are not ambitious enough. We'll go into this campaign wanting to do as well as we can, and I think we will do well."
After a disrupted build-up to the season, Paul Wotton will be proud and relieved when he leads out the team tomorrow. He said: "I didn't think about how long I would be out. It was just a case of trying to get myself better and looking after my family. I've trained this week and there are no ill-effects. The stitches are out and it seems to feel all right, so I'm fit for selection." Wotton is eager to return to the fray. "The players can't wait for the whistle at three o'clock on Saturday," he added. "Then we know it's business as normal. We'll be playing for points rather than fitness. We're all looking forward to it - we can't wait. The new gaffer has come in with some new ideas, and we're trying as best we can to take them on board. We've made some good additions to the squad who have blended in well, not just as players but as people as well. It all bodes well for the future." The new manager has made Home Park a happier place to work. "It's more upbeat," Wotton added. "There's banter flying around the dressing-room and everyone has a smile on their face when they come into training. We work very hard as well, which you have to do, and it's a great place to work at the moment." After two seasons of relegation danger, Wotton hopes that the club will spend more time in the top half of the table this term, but he is not making any rash promises. He said: "The only target we've set ourselves as players is to give our best individually and demand the best out of everybody else as well. We hope that will be good enough, and I'm sure it will. We shouldn't be looking over our shoulders at a relegation battle, but that's easier said than done. We're under no illusions - we'll need to work incredibly hard, which we will. That's something that we've always thrived on and that won't change." This season the effort should be embellished with more flair, if Holloway has his way. Wotton said: "The gaffer has told us we still need to be solid and not lose our shape, but he wants us to have more freedom going forward. We've got a bit of pace up front, which we haven't had for a while. We can't keep banging those long balls up there now, because Mickey Evans has left. He was fantastic at that, but he's not here now. We've got a different set of forwards and we have to play a different way. We're learning that day by day, and we're enjoying it."
Ian Holloway has made a rousing appeal for support as Argyle get ready to kick-off the new season. His message to the fans was simple: "Just get all your bums on the seats. Anybody who supports other teams, please come along and see us. We are on your doorstep. Bring your kids along because I want them to support us. Why not? They are going to see our players in their schools. They are going to be bombarded by us everywhere you go. People want to know, who we are, so we tell them, we are the Argyle, the Plymouth Argyle." Holloway has not experienced the excitement of a league game since he was put on 'gardening leave' by QPR in February. He added: "I can't tell you how I will be at one minute to three tomorrow. Hopefully, I will be like a swan. I shall be all elegant on top but underneath, my God, I'm going to be flapping about. This is what matters. Pre-season friendlies are practice matches, and everybody gets sick and fed up of practising. Now I have got to be totally professional in how we look at our opposition, and who it's likely to be. I have got to try to plan in advance how the game is going to go and how we are going to be on top, which isn't easy. I haven't got the benefit of hindsight, like everyone else who watches the game on Saturday." Holloway believes it is vital for Argyle's future success that the club becomes a focal point for the community. He said: "This team belongs to the city, and belongs to the area, and I'm so proud of it. It belongs to the people who turn up with their green shirts on, and I want to be on their minds, and on their lips, and in their songs for a long, long time. That's what I want, and I want people who want that as well. I have a dream and everybody has got to buy into it. I know the Board have, and I know my players have. I know some of the fans who met me the other night have. Brilliant. Let's keep it going. But this is all words. I'm sick and fed up of it. I want action now. Sometimes we will be terrific, sometimes good and sometimes awful. We might play awful and win, but I'm not happy playing awful because long-term you need to play well and entertain your public. You have also got to get results as well, so it's all about getting the balance right. I can't wait."
Gary Penrice should become the latest addition to Ian Holloway's backroom staff at Home Park by next week. "I have offered something to Gary Penrice and he has had a problem to sort out with QPR," said Holloway. "I think they are doing that as we speak. The role I will be talking about will be different to what he did at QPR." Holloway confirmed no offer had been made yet to another of his former assistants at QPR, Tim Breacker. When asked whether he would like to bring Breacker to Home Park, Holloway added: "We will have to wait and see. Other things will have to happen at this end first."
Luke McCormick has admitted he is feeling fitter and sharper at the start of the new season than ever before. He said: "I have really enjoyed pre-season. I feel as good as I have ever done and I am pleased to get as many games as I have done." There was bitter disappointment for McCormick on the first day of last season when he lost out to Larrieu in the battle to be Argyle goalkeeper for the game at Reading. McCormick said: "Me and Romain trained ever so hard last pre-season and it was the night before we got told. It could have gone either way, I thought, but fair play to Romain, he got the nod and did absolutely brilliantly. His consistency was fantastic and he stayed there all season. That's what I'm hoping to do. Watching Romain and how he did things last season, hopefully I can learn from what he was doing and make that part of my game as well." McCormick is optimistic about the teams prospects under Ian Holloway. "With the new ideas the manager has brought in, the couple of additions he has made to the squad and the togetherness and team spirit we have got, I don't think there's anything stopping us having a really good season and improving on what we did last year," he said. "The players he has brought in will help us no end, and with how well everyone gets on with each other, I think we can push on. The team spirit is probably the best I have seen it for a long while, to be honest, and that counts for so much. You can have all the good footballers you like, but if you haven't got that it means nothing really." McCormick believes Argyle can make a winning start to the season against Wolves, which would then set them up for successive away games at Colchester United and Sunderland. He said: "We are playing at home and we always fancy ourselves at home, no matter who it's against. We have had a good pre-season and there's nothing to say we can't go and win that game. It would be a great start to the season if we were to get three points. Wolves have got a new manager, like we have, so they will be up for it just as much as we are, but we have got to make sure we are the ones that come out with the right result." Larrieu, meanwhile, will not be considered for the visit of Wolves and Holloway admitted he was concerned about his health. "He's having another scan on Monday," he said. "We have to wait and see how he is and we are all hoping it is not as serious as it might be. The option of having Josh on the bench is there but, if not, I want to pick an attack minded bench. It depends how I feel; at home I like having as many attacking options as I can on the bench. One to entertain and two, if we find ourselves in any trouble, to try and change it."
Tony Capaldi has been called up by Northern Ireland for the friendly international against Finland on August 16th
Josh Clapham yesterday signed a one-year contract with Argyle
Lilian Nalis has seen more pre-seasons than most players and has taken this year's tough schedule at Argyle in his stride. He said: "We have worked really hard. We had a good week in Austria. It was really hot, but it was just what we needed. Now we are just waiting for the season to start." Like all of his team-mates, Nalis has taken the new manager. "Ollie is really looking forward to bringing something to the club," he added. "He has some different ideas to add to what we had last year. We were very strong defensively last year, but now I think we are going to be playing a bit more football. He has brought in two new strikers and what he has done is really good for everybody." Nalis has been impressed by Argyle's two new strikers. "Barry and Sylvan both have a lot of talent," he said. "Everybody knows Barry because of what he has done in the past, and I think Sylvan has a great future ahead of him. Now it is up to us to help them settle in as quickly as possible so that they can show everybody what they can do." Nalis was an ever-present in the Argyle team following his arrival last season, and knows what it takes to remain competitive at his age. "You have to look after yourself a bit more," he said. "You know what you have to do to be on form for games every Saturday and midweek too. You have to be as professional as you can and make sure you are ready for everything, but it's no good if you don't have the passion. I still have the passion. That's the most important thing." Nalis has several years of experience of Championship football, and he knows how competitive the league is likely to be "It will be a great division," he said. "It is getting stronger and stronger, but we can push on if we can combine what we did last season with what the new manager is trying to do. We just have to try and do our best. If we work really hard, we can look for a top-ten finish. With the new manager and the new players coming in, we can only do better." With Paul Wotton back in full training this week it looks likely that last season's central midfield partnership will be reunited on Saturday. Nalis likes playing alongside Wotton and said: "We had a great relationship last year and we enjoy playing together. We are happy to have him back with us and it's great news for the team."
Mathias Kouo-Doumbe is hoping Argyle can take their game to another level under the guidance of Ian Holloway. "We are now established in the division," he said. "We have been safe for the past two years, but now is the time for the team to move up another level and try and get as close to the top as we can. Of course it will be tough, there are a lot of good teams in this division. But we have a very good squad, one which has been together for a long time. The gaffer has added a couple of fresh faces, which is good, and we have a good quality to the group. Like all the players I am really excited about the start of the season. Everybody wants to do something this season and everybody wants the club to do well." Argyle start against Wolves this weekend, before facing trips to Colchester and Sunderland. "It's a tough start, but this whole league is tough," added Doumbe. "Wolves is a big game to start with, but they have a new manager as well and they have lost a couple of players, like Kenny Miller to Celtic. At the moment I don't know what shape they are in, so we'll just take every game as it comes and try to do our best." Argyle warmed up for the new season in Austria, which included facing Real Madrid, and Doumbe insists Argyle are in fine fettle. He said: "Playing Real Madrid was a really enjoyable experience for everyone. To lose just 1-0 was good, but at the same time it was only their first game and our third game, so it was still very early for everyone. The hard work will start this weekend."
Hasney Aljofree will relish any battle to retain his place in the side should Ian Holloway sign another centre-back. "Every player will tell you the same thing," said Aljofree. "They want to play in every game this season. I am no different. Nobody will ever tell you they don't want to play football. I just hope I can stay in the team and do well for the club. If it is me and Matty who are centre-backs for the club then it is happy days. Obviously the club needs to strengthen the position as there is only me and Matt and a couple of youngsters, who I don't know if they are ready to push through right now. Competition for places I am sure will hot up; I am sure the manager will sign a player or two. It is up to me and Matty to keep our positions and hopefully put the club in the right direction. Obviously the club needs to sign players - they have done and probably will do - that is just the way it goes. But competition makes you a better player. You are always looking over your shoulder, you can't relax and, at the end of the day, you know if you are having a bad game, you are probably going to think 'am I playing next week?' But that can only be good for Plymouth Argyle Football Club." Aljofree feels the pre-season build-up has helped him reach a good, physical condition. "Pre-season has gone well for me," he said. "I have not missed a day's training, so for me personally it has gone really well. We come back pre-season and we are all thinking when is the first game going to be? It is a long, hard slog pre-season and finally the first game is not far away, it is just around the corner. I am looking forward to it. Hopefully we can start off really well against Wolves on Saturday. In the first game for any team there is apprehension before the game, between the players and the fans. It is a massive game against Wolves, but it is one that everyone should just enjoy - what a game to play for your first game. Hopefully our fans at Home Park will lead us through to getting the right result. It is a tough place to come for any team - you can ask anyone. We need to make this place a fortress and hopefully, starting Saturday against Wolves, we can do that." While not making any rash predictions about how well the club can perform this season, Aljofree believes Argyle should be measured on their ability to finish higher up the table than they did in 2005/06. "Progression is from beating your league position of the last season," he said. "Anything better than that is a step forward for the club. You don't want to be aiming too high and you don't want to be aiming too low. I think you have just got to put things into perspective and hopefully do better than last season."
Paul Wotton is 'ready and raring' for the start of the new season on Saturday. He said: "It's fantastic to be back in training and to be around the boys again. It's absolutely brilliant. I trained twice on Monday and played 90 minutes in a practice match on Tuesday. I felt strong in the last 20 minutes. Obviously, the work I had done before the week off has stood me in good stead. I don't think I have lost much fitness, if any at all. It might just be a case of building myself up because I have lost a bit of weight." Argyle are thought to be close to revealing the findings of their disciplinary inquiry into the incident in Austria. Wotton, meanwhile, insisted he was fit to play against Wolves. He said: "Hopefully, I will get selected. The first game of the season is always a fantastic occasion and I'm ready and raring for it. Wolves will bring a decent crowd down with them but I'm sure the Argyle supporters will be out in force. Pre-season has gone pretty well - the results have been alright - but that's finished now. As soon as the whistle goes on Saturday, it's game on. The first game of the season is always great to play in and I haven't missed one for seven or eight seasons now. Hopefully, fingers crossed, touch wood, whatever, I don't miss this one." Wolves visited Home Park in April, when they were beaten 2-0, but since then there has been a major upheaval at Molineux. Wotton said: "They have lost some very talented players but, at the end of the day, they will still have lots of quality. We will know all about them, but it's about what we do. If we go about our business in the right manner, hopefully, we will be alright." Argyle have their own new manager for the start of the season and Ian Holloway has made a positive impact at Home Park. Wotton said: "He has been great - very supportive and very enthusiastic. He wants the best for everybody, and he demands the best from everybody as well, so it strikes the right balance with me and the rest of the lads. It's good to come in and work and train hard. We have always been a tight knit group and the new boys have bedded into that as well. It's the same old Plymouth Argyle team spirit, and he's a massive part of it." As for the new season, Wotton was reluctant to set any targets. He said: "It's the same old boring cliché - we will take every game as it comes. I suppose the only target is to be the best you can be in every game and see where that takes you at the end of the season. Doing your best and giving 100 per cent, that's enough for the gaffer and that's enough for the fans as well. You can't ask for any more, and that's one of our main attributes. It's a tough league this season, with some real quality in there, but it's exciting as well. There is nothing to be fearful of. We have got real quality throughout the squad and we are looking forward to the challenge ahead."
With only four days to go to the start of the season, Ian Holloway knows that his Argyle squad is incomplete. He said: "We couldn't win enough ball in the air the other evening at Bristol Rovers. People can say you've got to play football, but you can't play football when your goalie's got it on the floor and he has to take a goal-kick. If you try and play football from there, people will nick the ball off you even if you're Real Madrid. You have to be able to hit a long ball sometimes and deal with it. Unfortunately, Bristol Rovers beat us in the air far too many times for my liking." Holloway is anxious to strengthen his squad as soon as possible. "I think I know what the board and I need to do," he added, "and it's about getting the right people. We haven't got that many players in our squad, and we need to get moving. I need to make sure about people. I don't need to make any mistakes. I know what I need. I need a big bloke who can head it about 50 miles. Then Hasney can go to left-back, maybe. I've got other people who are very good at what they do. I can move them around, which is good. I've got honest senior professionals who can do loads of different jobs for me, but I need the main head on a stick for certain things. I need that up front and at the back, and I haven't addressed that yet. We aren't blessed with 6ft 5in blokes who can head it, and I might need one or two." Although his attacking line-up might be incomplete, Holloway is aware that he has some quality strikers at his disposal. "I've got a centre-forward who I think is very good and will lead the others in Barry Hayles," he said. "I've got Sylvan and I've got Nick Chadwick, who are fine, and I've got Reuben Reid beneath them. He looks like he might have a future. I've seen what I've got, and now I have to try and add to it. What we have is very good, very honest and hard-working, and I need to be able to build on it. I'm not looking to make wholesale changes, I'm looking to add some individuals who are like-minded, up for it and want to be here and want to take us forward. That's what I want. When I've identified them, I'll work my socks off to get them in, but it's a little bit hard at the moment. I don't want any more trialists. I know what positions I need to fill, and I'm going to be trying to bring people in." Asked if any signings were likely before the weekend, Holloway added: "No, I doubt it."
As the Argyle squad assembled for yesterday's official team photograph, the players were clearly upbeat and focused on the task ahead. Hasney Aljofree said: "The gaffer's enthusiasm is unbelievable. He has a massive passion for life, not just football, but for life in general. Obviously there was a bit of uncertainty over the summer, but he's come in and totally lifted the place. Everyone is looking forward to the season. It's been a good pre-season for us. It's been tough - pre-season always is - but everyone is looking forward to this first game, so I can't wait for it to happen. Wolves are a massive club and they probably deserve to be in the Premiership for their size. However, they are in this league for a reason, the same as us, so it's going to be a great opener." Aljofree is poised to start Saturday's game alongside Mathias Doumbe, with whom he combined well during the pre-season fixtures, which included facing Real Madrid, a game in which Aljofree had the honour of leading Argyle out on to the pitch. "It was a special moment," he said. "It's not every day you get to play Real Madrid, so to lead the side out against them is something that is going to stay with me for a long while." However Aljofree's thoughts for the immediate future are on Saturday and the new season ahead. "It's going to be a big season for us," he added. "We're established in this league now, but we want to progress on to another level. The manager has brought in a couple of signings - and he'll probably need to bring in a few more. That said, we are settled as a squad, everyone knows what each other's strengths and weaknesses are, and we're all in together. Everyone starts the season with no points and you go from there. Our aim must be to improve on last year and to try and take the club forward. Hopefully, come the end of the season, we will have made that progression."
Ian Holloway has hinted that Luke McCormick will start the season in goal, due to the extra match practice he has had following Romain Larrieu's injury problems. McCormick knows it could be the break he needs to re-establish himself in the first team but is full of sympathy for what Larrieu has endured in recent weeks. "It isn't nice, what has happened to Romain," McCormick said. "Everyone is behind him all the way, but that's the way football works sometimes. I just have to make sure I'm fully focused now, and that I can make the most of every opportunity that gets put in front of me." If McCormick is given the start this weekend, he knows that he will have to come up with the same level of consistency that Larrieu did last season. "Last season, having spent so much time out of the team, I definitely learned a lot from what Romain did, from how he approached things and everything," he added. "Although I was out of the team, I was still learning. I could take a lot out of what Romain did and bring that into my own game. Also, I have played in this league the season before. I got a lot out of that too. Hopefully that will stand me in good stead." McCormick knows that his all-round game has improved since his first spell as a regular in the senior side three seasons ago. "Some things you have to work on to improve, and other things just happen," he said. "As you get older, you get more mature and you end up with a wiser head on your shoulders. The more training you do, you just pick things up even though you don't always know you're doing it. That comes out in the games you play." McCormick has become accustomed to frequent managerial changes at Argyle in recent years and thinks Ian Holloway has already made his mark in a big way on the squad. "He is certainly very enthusiastic," McCormick said, "and I think that will rub off on all the boys. He has brought in a few new ideas and that is only going to help us. He'll want things done in a certain way, whether it will be to kick the ball early or take a throw with it, and we'll get on with it." McCormick is optimistic about the teams prospects in the coming season. "I don't see that there's any reason why we can't finish in the top half of the table," he said. "The togetherness and the team spirit within the squad is absolutely the best I've seen for a long time here. The new players that he has brought in will help us improve on last season's performance, I'm sure of that."
Paul Wotton returned to full training yesterday. Ian Holloway said: "The captain is back. It looks like he'll be fully fit for the weekend. I think there'll be no problem. He took a full part in training today. He headed it no problem. He slapped one in with his head. It's good to see him back. To lose two players like that was a bit of a hindrance and now, hopefully, there's only one missing from the squad, pending the disciplinary hearing." Zebroski has not been at Home Park since the incident in Austria. The only major absentee from the Argyle squad for this weekend is likely to be Akos Buzsaky, who is still regaining his fitness after an operation on the groin injury he sustained last autumn. Holloway said: "I can't wait to see him and work with him, but it doesn't look like he has any chance this weekend. He's doing some running, but he isn't taking a full part in training. Not at all." Buzsakys ongoing absence is a source of frustration for the manager. He last trained with the rest of the squad 16 days ago, at the start of the Austrian tour. "To say the least," Holloway added. "He was told not to, and he did and he wanted it too much and now he's put himself back. There's a slight problem there. It's an ongoing scenario." Buzsaky left Argyle's team hotel in Austria to travel to see his doctor in Hungary and was given an injection without the permission of the teams medical staff, who were also not informed about the tenotomy operation he had in his homeland in May until after he returned to Plymouth at the start of training in late June
Argyle are not pursuing their interest in Portuguese trialist Carlos Fangueiro
Romain Larrieu played 90 minutes in the 6-1 friendly win over Plymouth Parkway last night. Geoff Crudgington said: "It's nice to see Romain back. He needs games now, it's been a little while, and he's got one. Hopefully he'll feel OK after it and, fingers crossed, we think the infection is clearing up. We'll just have to be a little bit careful with him." Ian Holloway added: "We don't know about his long- term situation yet, but at least he feels well enough to play in this game." Holloway hopes to have three goalkeepers to pick from in his first-team squad by the end of the week, with Argyle intending to offer a contract to Josh Clapham. Holloway said: "We will be offering him a year's contract, with a year's option."
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