A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Paul Sturrock has warned that Argyle will be facing 'a wounded animal' when they play West Brom tomorrow. He said: "We are going to have to be at the top of our game to come away with anything tomorrow. I think there is a wounded animal waiting on us at West Bromwich Albion. We will either kill it, or it will devour us. You can imagine the reaction the manager is going to want after losing last weekend. I think they are fourth now and for them to get automatic promotion they must win football games. I'm sure the first 15 minutes will be like the Alamo, and it's a case of how long it goes on for. But I would imagine there is a worry in their ranks about what reaction they will get from the crowd and, obviously, the form we have been in." Sturrock started his second spell as Argyle manager at the end of November and his first game was a defeat by West Brom at Home Park. He said: "It was probably the biggest doing I have seen this team take, for the first 45 minutes. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but we got to grips with things in the second half."
Gary Teale has admitted that March will be a crucial month in Argyle's play-off push. He said: "When it comes to the business end of the season you want to have something to play for. Obviously, you want to be pushing at the top end of the league, not at the bottom. We have been going well but no-one is getting carried away. We have got a great bunch of lads here and everybody is down to earth and just wants to do well for each other. As long as we carry that ethic into the next 13 games, hopefully we will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. With so many games coming thick and fast, you haven't got a lot of time for recovery, so tiredness and everything else will come into it. But when you are winning games you don't tend to feel the tiredness. Your body takes care of itself. If we can stay on this run, hopefully, we will be the ones that are pushing on come the end of March. Then you never know." Teale is excited about the prospect of the fourth-versus-fifth clash at The Hawthorns tomorrow. He said: "When you win four games on the spin, and also concede only one goal, confidence is high. But, from now on, if we want to try to achieve anything, every game is going be a massive one - starting with West Brom. I think everybody would say they were probably the best side in the league last season - and this season as well, with the squad they have got and the way they play football. But we will go there tomorrow full of confidence because we have won four on the bounce." Teale made his home debut against Burnley last week, and was reasonably satisfied with his showing, but believes there is a lot more to come from him. He added: "I feel if I get the ball more, I can have an influence, but in your first home game you just want a victory. The team had been doing well and I just wanted to come in and try to add that wee bit. I was happy enough and, at the end of the day, we got three points." Teale almost scored in the second half, when goalkeeper Brian Jensen pushed away a low shot for a corner. Teale said: "The ball got played to me and I hit it first time. To be honest, I thought it was going in but the 'keeper pulled off a great save. It would have been nice to get on the scoresheet, but as long as the team are winning that's all that matters."
Marcel Seip may have to delay a hernia operation because of a potential crisis in Argyle's defence. With Mathias Doumbe out with a hamstring problem and Krisztian Timar one yellow card away from a ban, Paul Sturrock admitted it is a problem and is hoping to have a discussion with Seip and Paul Maxwell after the game with Colchester United. He said: "There is a lot of discussion to be had about this scenario because we don't know the longevity of Anderson; we don't know when Doumbe will be fit again and Timar is on a two-game suspension if he gets another booking. We obviously have to think of the individual as well. Do we do it now or do we wait? It is a catch 22 situation we are in and we will probably discuss it again after Tuesday's game."
Russell Anderson insists confidence is high within the Argyle camp ahead of tomorrow's game. "It's a big game for us," he said. "I'm sure it will be a big crowd and we'll take up good support with us. It's a game we are all looking forward to and it'll be a challenge, but it's not one we are scared of. We will be going into the game with confidence - and quite rightly so - because we have won our last four games." Anderson has settled in well to Home Park, and said: "I think it has helped that the team has been doing well. It's obviously a lot easier to fit into a team that is winning and when players are playing with confidence. It's been quite a smooth transition to come straight into the changing room. The boys have been great and they've made me feel right at home. It also helps that there are a few others who haven't been here all that long, so they're still trying to get to know everyone off the pitch and on it. But so far so good."
Paul Sturrock has yet to consider whether to ask for an extension to Russell Anderson's month-long loan from Sunderland. "I've not given any thoughts about asking for any extension to his present arrangement - it is not in my mindset," he said. "I've got two defenders, Seip and Doumbe, who are coming back from injury, so I'm not making any decision yet. We've got these four fixtures coming up and I'll have a clearer picture of where we are when we're a good way through them." Meanwhile, Sturrock is optimistic Chris Clark will travel with the squad this weekend, and said: "We've got the boy Clark returning to training and all being well, I expect him to come with us on Saturday." Sturrock had watched another of his players returning after injury, Nick Chadwick, in action for the reserves on Tuesday, along with trialist Michael Lea. "It was a good run-out for Nick which is just what he needs at the moment," said Sturrock. "But we'll not be going any further with the boy Lea - we'll be looking at other options."
Argyle lost 4-1 to Manchester City in the FA Youth Cup quarter-final at Home Park last night, the goal scored by Jarred Stevens. Argyle: Saxton, Hopkinson, White, Hodgkinson, Brett, Mason, McCaul, Moseley, McCrory, Barnes, Stevens. Subs – Davis, Gerring, Edwards (not used - Misiewicz, Grant). Attendance - 2,417
Argyle reserves lost 1-0 at Yeovil Town yesterday afternoon. Gyorgy Sandor completed the entire match, and Nick Chadwick also played for sixty minutes in his latest comeback from injury. Geoff Crudgington was not pleased with the performance of the team, but thought the fact that the two players had successfully come through the game was a plus. He said: "It's probably the only plus for us, because we didn't play at all well. I don't know why, because we had a strong team out there. I think Nick would have been disappointed to come off - it was his first game back." Argyle: Larrieu, King, Moult, Hodges, Lea, Folly, Wotton, Summerfield, Sandor, Chadwick, Jutkiewicz. Subs - Smith, Watts, Duggan
Lilian Nalis has pointed to Peter Halmosi as the key player in Argyle's play-off push. He said: "When you have got a player like Peter Halmosi, he can score you some goals at any time when you give him the ball. He converted two half-chances into goals against Burnley. When you have got a player like this in your team it makes it easier." Several new recruits arrived at Home Park during January and Nalis believes they have made a positive impact. He said: "You need to give respect to all the players in the dressing room and to what the gaffer has done. It's four wins in a row for us. From now on, we are going forward. We don't want to talk about the past and the players who left. It's a short career in football and you need to look after yourself, and that's what they have been doing. But now we have got some good players in the dressing room and all the supporters and all the football club need to give respect to them. If we continue talking all the time about what was before, it's never going to work." Nalis has not been surprised that Argyle's new players have settled so quickly at Home Park, and added: "As I have said since I have been here, this dressing room is amazing. You can come in and you are only going to need one or two days to fit in. There is a lot of laughter in there and a lot of pictures of look-a-likes. We have a lot of fun every day. When you come into training and you laugh about yourself and laugh about the others, that means you have got a great mentality in the dressing room. That's why all the people who have come in, have just fitted in properly." Nalis has been very influential in recent games, after a dip in form over the festive period. He said: "You need to look after what's going on in your career and I was a bit tired at one time this season. I don't think the work we did in the pre-season suited me, so I might have been struggling a bit because of this. But now I'm enjoying myself and I'm back to the level I was at last season. I feel like I can play game after game now. It's going to be another test for me, but I just want to work hard for the team." Asked about the pre-season training, Nalis added: "We went straight away into short and sharp stuff and I was looking for some long running first. I didn't feel sharp enough at the start of the season." Nalis knows Argyle will have to be at their best to get a result at West Brom on Saturday. He said: "What we need to think about is making sure we are ready for the game, and preparing the way the gaffer will play it. We will have to work hard this week. And we will need exactly the same workrate and attitude we have shown in the last four games. West Brom are a good team and most of their players have been in the Premier League and most of them are on wages. But it's a football game and we will need to fight from the first minute to the 90th. We have got to make sure we make it tough for them and you never know what's going to happen. We have worked hard all season to get here, and even with a nightmare January we are still there. We just need to keep our feet on the floor, work hard, treat every game as a cup final and try to go forward. In May, we will see where we are."
Paul Sturrock will be an interested spectator for tonight's FA Youth Cup Quarter Final against Manchester City. He said: "I am quite excited about it, although it will be a difficult game because Man City are favourites for the tournament. It has been difficult opposition right the way through but they have coped very well, and I am sure they won't let themselves down. The difficult thing at this juncture is the huge step from the youth team to the Championship. We have got to assess which ones we think can make the jump, which makes it doubly hard for these young players. To be given first-year pro contracts, you have got to be thinking that these boys will come very close to your first-team. I will be the one to make the decision. I have got to make an assessment on anybody coming into this club because, at the end of the day, I am the head scout. The buck stops with me, so I am going to look for the type of player appropriate to the style of play I like to play. Tonight will be a big deciding factor."
Manchester United left-back Michael Lea is the trialist who will be playing for Argyle reserves at Yeovil Town. Marcel Seip will not figure in the game despite recovering from a groin injury, but will instead remain in Plymouth in a bid to prove his fitness ahead of the weekend
Paul Connolly has praised the part played by the fans as Argyle have moved into play-off contention. Connolly was critical of the supporters after the defeat by Hull on February 2nd, but yesterday said: "I wasn't happy after the Hull game, but I was speaking for all the boys in the squad. To be honest, it was a bit of a rallying call and since then the fans' backing has been unbelievable. And you could see on Saturday, it does help the team. At Leicester, we were always going to get good support, with the goings-on there. But they were out in force on a cold Tuesday night at Southampton, singing their heads off. It was the same on Saturday. They got behind us from the off and that's more like it. We all believe - and, hopefully, the fans will keep believing - that we can definitely get into the play-offs." Connolly admitted Argyle had not been at their best against Burnley, even though they beat one of their play-off rivals. He said: "We can play much better than that. We played in second and third gear and I think we could have put them to the sword if we had stepped it up. It wasn't to be, but it was a proper battling and we have come out on top. To be fair, every time it is a battling display we always come out on top. That's typical Plymouth. There were times when we were careless with possession and gave the ball away, but that happens, and we were playing against a really good side. Come the end of the season, I guarantee Burnley will be up there fighting for the play-offs because they have got some good players. We didn't play well but we won 3-1, which tells its own story." Two of Argyle's goals were scored by Peter Halmosi, and Connolly added: "Peter has got true quality. For his second goal on Saturday, he cut inside the lad and just absolutely laced it into the bottom corner. He's a top player. He's an attacking left-sided player, but he also tracks back and works hard for the team. He's not your typical wide left player, who just wants to attack. He's always back helping out, doing the nitty gritty stuff. But, when the time comes, he's definitely a goal threat. I always think he will score every time he gets the ball. He's different class." Paul Sturrock added Russell Anderson and Gary Teale to his squad last week, and Connolly said: "Russell is very similar to Marcel. They are very calm and comfortable on the ball. And, to be fair to Gary, I think he was starved of the ball on Saturday. Me included, we could got the ball to him a bit quicker. I think he could have caused even more damage, but he showed glimpses to the fans of what he's all about. Both of them are Premier League quality and international quality so, at the end of the day, they are two great signings for us to kick on with." Argyle have achieved four consecutive wins despite injuries to several players, such as Seip, Chris Clark, Mathias Doumbe and Jim Paterson, and Connolly said: "I can't think of a club where it would be a worse time to be injured because we are flying. But as soon as they come back fit and play a couple of reserve games you can feel them breathing down your neck. It's all competition. To be honest, all the boys are buzzing and if we all keep believing - and we get a bit of luck - I definitely think we can get into the play-offs." Connolly cannot wait for this weekend's game at West Brom and added: "It's going to be a massive game. I can remember playing there last year and it's a lovely stadium. West Brom like to play nicey-nicey Premier League type football. If we can go there and get in their faces we can come away with a result."
Paul Sturrock has been nominated for February's Championship manager of the month award
Argyle will try to make it into the semi-finals of the FA Youth Cup for the first time when they play Manchester City at Home Park tonight. Mike Pejic has done his homework on City, and he said: "I think City have got everything to lose and nothing to gain. They are the favourites. And I think we have got everything to gain and nothing to lose, so it's a great game for the kids and a great occasion for them. The lads have done really well to get to this point. After the initial 20 minutes against Coventry, when I thought they were very nervous, I think they have responded quite well to each challenge they have been faced with. I feel Man City are probably the favourites for the competition, so this is the best challenge you are going to have to put up with. But I went to watch them play Bristol City and I thought they were very fortunate. Bristol took a 2-1 lead and then they hit the post, with the 'keeper well beaten. Had that gone in, I think they would have had some task on their hands to pull back from 3-1. As it was, they pulled back and showed their class in the end."
Nick Chadwick has been given until the end of the season to impress Paul Sturrock. "I have told Chadders that he has got 12 weeks to impress," said Sturrock. "He is going out of contract and that is his job now. I have never actually seen Chadwick play apart from a reserve game. I have never seen him live in a first-team game. There were thoughts of him going out on loan but with all the games we have got and injuries people pick up and suspensions, we want as big a squad as we can get. It is up to Chadwick to perform at a standard to impress me enough to put him in the team or at least give him a new contract - that is the challenge we have put to him." Chadwick's place on the treatment table will be filled by Jim Paterson, who damaged his hamstring in training last week. "Jim's injury is more extensive than we thought," said Sturrock. "There is no time-frame being put on it but, obviously, the sooner the better. We have been very pleased with him and with seven games coming this month, we could do with his presence around the team and in training." Paterson's injury has prompted Sturrock to move for possible cover in the left-back position. A trialist will play in tomorrow's reserve team game at Yeovil Town, as part of a strong Argyle side. "We will have a trialist playing at left-back," Sturrock said. "He is a young lad from a Premiership team, so we will have a look. He has come down for four days, so we will have a look at him in training and in the game, and I will make my assessment on Wednesday. The rest of the defence against Yeovil will be Lee Hodges, Jake Moult and Tom King. The midfield four will be Yoann Folly, Luke Summerfield, Paul Wotton and Gyorgy Sandor. Chadwick will play up front with Lukas Jutkiewicz and Romain Larrieu will be in goal." Sturrock will play Paul Wotton in his favoured central midfield role. Like Chadwick, Wotton is one of several players out of contract at the end of the season and Sturrock admitted there a lot of important decisions to be made in the coming months. He said: "As far as I am concerned, he is a central midfield player and, if you were to ask Wottsy, I think he would say the same. I am reasonably happy with Wottsy but it is a difficult one for us because the team is winning. If we were struggling, I am sure he would have contributed a lot more. He is out of contract at the end of the season as well, so there are several players we will be looking at very closely. There is a board meeting coming up on March 13th, which will probably open the door for a discussion on the players going out of contract. There is an assessment in training and in games that I have been making since I got here, and then we obviously have to discuss the budget for next season, which will give me a clearer picture."
Jim Paterson was ruled out of Saturday's game against Burnley by a hamstring injury that he suffered in training on Friday, and could be out of action for some time. Paul Sturrock said: "Jim tweaked a hamstring but we don't know how severe it is. We will rest him over the next two or three days and see what the story is." Also, Luke McCormick did some stretching exercises early on against Burnley and, at one stage, Romain Larrieu was warming up on the touchline. Sturrock added: "Luke has had a wee tight groin, but it's getting better."
A fourth consecutive win was very pleasing for Paul Sturrock, but he admitted the points were won without his team reaching the performance levels of the last three games. He said: "We played against a good side today but the essence of the game is to put the ball in the net, and we have done that three times. Their goalie made a great save from Teale and I can't really say my goalie has had to perform heroics. We did not play to the standards we have been achieving lately but a win is a win. The thought process today and the tactical thoughtfulness when the other team had the ball was a key factor to the game, which we did not do in the game up there when they played the same system. If we are fifth in the table with one game to go, I will be a happy camper, but there is too much water left to go under the bridge. We have got to go to the Alamo next week and there are lots of difficult games to go before the end of the season, so we have to keep ourselves in the frame. The one thing I know is that we will give it a go." Sturrock shared out the praise for his troops, starting with the tireless work undertaken by Steve Maclean and Jermaine Easter. He said: "We were a bit open with the two wingers but they worked tirelessly, and Steve MacLean is doing an exceptional job for us when the other team has got the ball. They had a sitting midfielder today and MacLean did very well in forcing him to play the ball longer, allowing Krisztian Timar to use his attributes. I feel sorry for Easter because he has done some fantastic things and their goalie made two saves from him. He is a goalscorer and he does not understand that he is doing a fantastic job for the team at the moment. It does not matter who scores the goals and he has got to be appreciative that he and Steve have done a fantastic job for the team in the last four games. They are getting a good understanding with each other and the goals will come." Peter Halmosi will gain most of the plaudits, however, and Sturrock was keen to point out his excellent defensive work. He said: "The rain has kept away and Peter seems to be a top of the ground player, and he is absolutely exceptional at doing it. He worked his tail off for the team. When you think of the amount of tackles and blocks he put in, it proves what he is prepared to do." Home debutants Russell Anderson and Gary Teale also received credit, and Sturrock added: "Teale's work-rate and the amount of times we should have passed him the ball was incredible. If you looked at Russell Anderson today, you would think he has been playing for Plymouth for the last four or five seasons." Sturrock also admitted that he would prefer to make a late charge for the play-offs, although he was not exactly complaining about the recent run. He said: "We are the unfashionable team in the race and, to be honest, I would have liked to just saunter along just off the pace at the minute and come with a late charge but, if the charge is now, we will go for it."
Krisztian Timar and Peter Halmosi were feeling buoyant after their starring roles in Argyle's 3-1 win over Burnley at Home Park yesterday. Timar said: "We are very happy and very confident now. We played a quality game with quality football and we can go further because we created a lot of chances. The defence played very well and we are creating many chances up front." Russell Anderson and Gary Teale are the most recent recruits to the Argyle cause, and Timar feels they have added to the quality in a much-changed squad. He said: "Anderson is a good player and, because he is a good player, it is easy to work together. He knows his job and I know my job. We have had lots of injuries and there are lots of games. We had a small squad and we are very happy with the new signings because they are all good players. We have got good players and I think we can stay in the top six." Halmosi was naturally pleased with his performance and he gave a brief explanation of two very different goals. He said: "I am very happy. The first goal was a very good ball from MacLean and I tried to give it back to him, but it was slippery and the ball bounced off the 'keeper, so I just got it over the line. For the second goal the ball bounced and I used my body to come inside and then strike the ball." Next up for Argyle is a difficult trip to West Brom and Timar is feeling very confident. He said: "We are on a good run with four wins and they are on a bad run. They lost again today, so they have to win at home, which should make it a good game."
Paul Sturrock paid tribute to his new signings and also his training methods after the win over Burnley. He said: "They are blending as a team and the work on the training ground has worked for us. There has been freshness with new players coming in and the training we have been doing has helped our shape-work. Gary Teale and Russell Anderson are Premier League players, and that shows you that they should not need to be shown a lot. Jim Paterson knows exactly what I want and Chris Clark looks like he has developed very quickly. Sandor and Folly are the disappointments to me at the minute but I am sure we will get them up and running and there will be a lot of competition for places."
Argyle beat Burnley 3-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Lilian Nalis after 11 minutes and Peter Halmosi (35 and 76). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Teale, Nalis, Abdou, Halmosi, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Wotton, Mackie, Fallon (not used – Larrieu, Seip). Attendance - 13,557
Paul Sturrock has confirmed he could make further signings before the deadline for loans in late March. He said: "With the circumstances of where we are in the league, if we are biting and scratching in another five or six games and we just need that wee boost, I'm sure we would go back out and do something else." Sturrock has also not ruled out players leaving Argyle on loan, but not in the immediate future. He said: "One or two people are starting to phone around now about the availability of some of our players. But I'm just kind of leaving it at this minute in time because I don't want to upset the apple cart in any way. I would hate to think I would put people out on loan and leave myself short." When asked whether Russell Anderson's one-month loan could be extended for a longer period, Sturrock replied: "We will see what happens."
Luke McCormick was in optimistic mood when he spoke during the build-up to this afternoon's game. He said: "There have been a lot of changes since we last played Burnley. A lot of players have come in, and the results have been really positive over the last three games. We'll go into this game against Burnley with a different outlook. Everyone has to take credit for the clean-sheets, not just the back four. We work really hard with John Blackley on the training ground, and it's good that we're getting the rewards. We'd like to see that continue." Argyle's latest clean sheet came at Southampton on Tuesday, where Russell Anderson slotted into the defence without fuss, even though he had not trained with the squad beforehand. "Russell slotted in without any problems, and I really enjoyed having him in front of me," McCormick said. "He looked comfortable on the ball, and he won his headers. All the lads in front of me were absolutely fantastic on Tuesday. The only time Southampton might have hurt us was from set-pieces, but the lads dealt very well with their height and with the balls that came into the box." Burnley hope to be involved in the promotion play-offs, being just one place and two points adrift of Argyle. "It's a massive game, because of where Burnley are in the League," McCormick added. "We're confident, but we can't be over-confident. Everything could change if we don't approach the game in the right frame of mind. We just want to build on what we've done. There are only 13 games to go, and we seem to be coming good at just the right time. We'll keep going, and in May we might all have big smiles on our faces."
The arrival of Gary Teale and Russell Anderson at Home Park has given Paul Sturrock the chance to test out his theory on loan players. He said: "There is a fine opportunity with loans for people to see us and for us to see them. It is a far better way of finishing up with a player, rather than someone signing a two-and-a-half year deal and leaving after eight months. The circumstances of where we are in the league means that, if we are biting and scratching just before the deadline, we could get someone else for that extra boost. I have also had one or two enquiries for our players but I don't want to upset the apple-cart or leave ourselves short." The arrival of Teale from Derby County was particularly pleasing for Sturrock because he has attempted to sign the winger on numerous occasions in the past. "I have tried to sign Teale several times before for several clubs I have been with," he said. "I think there has been a player added in his position at Derby, so we went back again and got some positive vibes. The lad was very keen as well, which was very pleasing."
Jermaine Easter believes an all-round team effort has been behind Argyle's move back into play-off contention. He said: "I think in the last three games we have been playing really well and, obviously, that works throughout the whole team. We have been getting hold of the ball up front, the lads at the back four have been really solid and Lilian and Jimmy have been ratting about in midfield. They have been three really good team performances." Easter has partnered Steve MacLean in attack for each of the last three games, but conceded that both players wanted to get among the goals more often. "I like playing with Macca," he said. "I think we have got a pretty decent understanding, even though we have only played three games together. It can only get better. I enjoy playing with him but I think if you asked both of us we want to be scoring more goals. That's our aim." Easter has gone close to scoring for Argyle on several occasions in recent matches, and added: "To be fair, I have been pleased with my performances so that takes some of the frustration away. I'm pretty confident at the moment, but I'm sure if I was scoring goals I would be even more confident. It's just the way it's going at the minute, but I'm sure the luck will change and, hopefully, when it does the goals will come flooding. I'm sure there have been great strikers out there who have gone through a barren spell of not scoring goals. Every striker goes through it. It's not nice when you are going through it, but I'm pretty pleased with the way performances have been going lately and I get confidence from that." Easter has only been at Home Park since the end of October, but has already seen major changes to the squad. He said: "I think around the time when the lads were coming and going it was pretty difficult, and that probably reflected in the performances on the pitch. But the gaffer is now picking a pretty settled team and the results are showing that." As for the clash against Burnley, Easter added: "It's going to be a tough game but we have won three on the bounce and I think the lads want to go and make it four."
Gary Teale is excited by the prospect of a push for the play-offs with Argyle. He said: "Obviously, Derby have been struggling in the Premier League so it's just nice to become part of something that is positive. Tuesday night was only my second win of the season. It's great to play in the Premier League. That's where everybody wants to play. But if we can work hard and keep clean sheets then you never know." Teale admitted the possibility of playing regular first team football and the chance to work with Paul Sturrock were the main attractions for him in signing for Argyle. He said: "When you are a footballer, all you want to do is play week in week out. I had been in and out the team at Derby. I was playing but the gaffer said I could be in and I could be out, and I didn't really want to be doing that. Paul Sturrock was a big influence in coming to Plymouth. I know him from back home and, obviously, I know what he has done while he has been down here. He has got a good reputation. I like to play attacking football so he was a big draw as well." Teale only met the Argyle squad on Tuesday afternoon, after driving down from Derby, and was introduced to his new team-mates at the pre-match meal. He said: "Obviously, when you are winning it breeds confidence among everybody. Everybody was laughing and joking, but there was a serious side when the game started. As I say, I'm just delighted to be part of something that is positive at the moment." Teale came on as a 70th minute substitute at Southampton, but he has set his sights on becoming a first team regular before too long. He added: "It's up to me to try to force myself into the team. The boys have been doing well and they have been winning games. Nobody is guaranteed a place, no matter who you are anyway. So I will knuckle down and, hopefully, I will get a starting place soon." Teale hopes to make his home debut tomorrow when Argyle take on Burnley. He said: "They are one of our rivals pushing for a play-off place, so it's going to be a difficult game. But I have played in this league long enough to know that every game is difficult, no matter who you are playing. It doesn't matter whether you are playing the team at the top of the table or the bottom of the table. If we keep getting results away from home and we can win our home games then, hopefully, we won't be too far away."
Argyle have a point to prove when they take on Burnley at Home Park tomorrow, following their dreadful display in a defeat at Turf Moor on January 12th. Paul Sturrock is hoping for a much better performance this time, and said: "Since I have got here, I would say our worst performance was at Burnley. It left a bad taste in my mouth and it would be nice to just have a wee sweetener tomorrow. I have got a few decisions to make about selection. Do I change the team or not? There are a lot of things to weigh up." Jermaine Easter shared Sturrock's views on the performance six weeks ago. He said: "They gave us a good hiding at their place, to be fair. It was a really poor performance from us. I thought they did well and they have got some good players. It's going to be tough tomorrow but it's a big game and the lads are itching to go into it because we are high on confidence and form is good. Hopefully, we can take that into the game." Argyle are seventh in the table, two points better off than Burnley. Sturrock said: "We have got a very difficult game on our hands. Burnley's away form this season has been excellent. They have got some quality players who hurt us big time last month. To be fair, we have got to start getting on a run at home as well. If we are going to be there at the end, we have got to make this place a fortress. Hopefully, we can start doing that come tomorrow, on the back of the Barnsley result." Marcel Seip could be on the bench tomorrow, but Mathias Doumbe and Chris Clark are still ruled out with hamstring and thigh injuries respectively. Jim Paterson was substituted on Tuesday because of a slight calf strain but will be fit to face Burnley. Sturrock said: "We have found out Marcel has got a slight hernia, but he can train and play with it. We are going to have to watch what we do with him from week to week, through the training sessions, but I'm hopeful he will be available for selection very soon." Asked whether Seip could be included in the squad tomorrow, Sturrock replied: "After four weeks out it's a lot to ask, but he could possibly be on the bench. The boy Clark has got a niggling thigh strain, but he's just building himself up slowly now." Gyorgy Sandor played for the reserves on Wednesday after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries, but according to Sturrock, it will be a while before he is ready to challenge for a first team place. He said: "He had a welcome to the English game the other day and I would say he has got several weeks yet before I would say he's going to be up to the pace of the Championship." Sturrock believes the uncertainty caused by the comings and goings at Home Park during the transfer window has now been lifted. He said: "I think the players are now believing in themselves a lot more, than maybe they did in January. That was a stern test for them. I think the freshness of new people coming in has regenerated some of the players that were here already."
Russell Anderson's impressive debut at Southampton was a huge bonus for Paul Sturrock. He said: "The important thing was, with Doumbe going out, that we did not want the scenario where we were short. We also have Krisztian Timar on nine bookings, so we could not allow ourselves to be caught out big time. I would hate to think that we had not done anything in the market and people could point the finger and say we had let ourselves down. It tells you a lot about the lad that Russell came from training in the morning to playing at night. It shows what a super professional he is and how keen he is to play football." Mathias Doumbe's absence could have led to Gary Sawyer moving to centre-back and Jim Paterson shifting to left-back. It was a move Sturrock was reluctant to make with his defence on a run of conceding just once in five games. He said: "We did not want a complete change of our back four. I am a great believer that a settled back four wins you football games. I think that has been proved over the last four or five games where our goals-against record has been outstanding." Sturrock feels that two of his team have improved significantly under the tutelage of John Blackley, and added: "The two I feel have progressed the most under Sloop has been Mat and Gary Sawyer. There have been some impressive performances since Sloop grumped at them."
Paul Sturrock has revealed a new approach to reserve team games. He said: "I have been playing people out of position to give them games but I have consciously made up mind that I will not be doing that anymore. I will now play people in their positions and try to work out who has had more games than others, and who needs topping-up. It will be very thoughtful towards shape from now on. We tried a diamond the other day and it was a disaster in the first-half, so we went back to 4-4-2 and looked much better. If I have got three forwards, two will play and one will sit on the bench and have 30 minutes at the end of the game."
Argyle reserves drew 1-1 with Swindon Town at Home Park last night, the goal scored by Rory Fallon. Argyle: Saxton, Moult, Wotton, Hodges, Watts, Folly, Summerfield, Sandor, Fallon, Jutkiewicz, Mackie. Subs (not used - Levett, Edwards)
Gyorgy Sandor is keen to make the same impact at Home Park as Peter Halmosi and Krisztian Timar have. Sandor made his first appearance for Argyle in the reserves' draw against Swindon Town yesterday, and said: "I wanted to play the full 90 minutes - it was important for me to play the whole game. My knee and hamstring are fine - I've had no bad effects from the match. But, of course, I have to be careful that I don't aggravate the injury. In Hungary we have a pre-season and so I haven't really played since December 9th. But the last time I played was in a friendly at the beginning of January. That was when I got injured and until today, my last game." Sandor is fully aware of his fellow countrymen's attributes. He said: "I have played plenty of times with Peter in the national team. And like with Krisztian, we have played against each other lots of times for our teams. The loan period is my first step into English football and so I have to do it one step at a time." Sandor believes he can become as popular and invaluable a signing for Argyle, too. "My strengths, I think, is that I can provide a lot of assists and also I can score goals," he said. "But I know I have to work a lot and train hard to get as fit as possible, so that I can get to progress." Sandor was pleased with his first taste of English football and is keen to gain more. He said: "I have to play a couple of games like this one for the reserve team and hope to do well. So, it's fitness, then match fitness and then I hope to get near the first team. But that all depends on the gaffer. Today, I thought it was more tactical than physical. Players have to find the right position to get into the rhythm of the game, as there were many crosses and long balls. And my job is to pick up the second ball - that's what I have to learn." Sandor grinned and tried to play down his late headed effort which nearly brought a winner for Argyle. He added: "I was unlucky - but next time definitely!"
A young Argyle side lost 4-1 to Dawlish Town in the St Luke's Cup quarter-finals last night, the goal scored by Shane White
Russell Anderson's first impressions of Argyle have been very favourable. Anderson only met his new team-mates for the first time around three hours before kick-off on Tuesday, but slotted into the defence without too much trouble. He said: " I found out at 12 o'clock and was told to get a flight at two o'clock, so I drove home to get my passport and got a flight from Newcastle. I got down just before four and got a taxi to the hotel, and met everyone for the first time at half past four at the pre-match meal. It was quite a day! I got a message halfway through training at Sunderland to stop and go back inside. That was about half past 11, and I signed the transfer forms. The deadline to play on Tuesday was 12 o'clock and I think they came through at about five to 12, so it was tight. On one hand it was difficult, but the team have been doing well and I think that makes it easier. If I had been coming into a struggling team and the players' confidence was down then it would have made it a lot harder. But, by all accounts, the team have been doing well so it was easier to fit in. When I was told about the chance to play for Plymouth, my first thought was that it would be good to get back playing games. That was first and foremost. And then anything after that, we will just take it as it comes." Argyle's third successive win moved them up to seventh in the table, and Anderson said: "I thought we played some good football at times. The two boys up front did very well for us, and we passed it when we could in midfield. I thought we limited them to just a couple of half chances to be honest, so it was a good night." Anderson was not only impressed by his new team-mates, but by the size and the volume of the Green Army. He said: "I think they travelled three hours to get there on a Tuesday night. They could have been sat at home watching the Champions' League on TV so it shows they are passionate about their team, and there was nothing better than to get a result for them." Anderson has played only twice for Sunderland because of the ankle ligament injury he suffered in August, and has since had to be content with playing reserve team football. He said: "I was getting a bit frustrated kicking my heels up the road, but that's the way football works out at times. I have been given the opportunity to come down here and hopefully, I can make the most of it." Argyle take on Burnley at Home Park on Saturday, in what could be a crucial game in the play-off race. Anderson said: "I think we are only a couple of points off the play-offs. It's going to be difficult but from what I saw on Tuesday night, there is no reason why we can't carry on that form. We have got a big game on Saturday now but, hopefully, playing at home we can kick on." Anderson and Gary Teale are the latest Scottish recruits added to the Argyle squad by Paul Sturrock, and Anderson added: "He obviously knows the scene in Scotland more than perhaps other people down here. So if he can tap into that then why not, as long as the quality is good enough to add to the team."
Argyle's accounts published today for the year ending May 31, 2007 show that the club's turnover has increased by almost £1m. However, this has been offset by a significant increase in players' wages, and the club posted a post-taxation trading loss of £714,522. That loss includes £402,802 made up of various transfer-fee instalment payments which makes the trading loss, without transfers, £311,720. This compares to a trading loss for the previous year of £402,813, if, again, transfer-fee instalments paid and received during the financial year are left out of the calculations. Paul Stapleton said: "As our main source of income is gate income, it was disappointing that the home gate fell for the third year in a row, with the average of 13,012 being nearly 3,500 down on the average for the first season back in the Championship. Unfortunately, this trend has continued through to this year, with the average gate again dropping for the fourth year in a row. It is essential that we do our best to encourage supporters to come to our games and also look to increase our non-match day revenue."
Paul Sturrock has warned the rest of the Championship not to underestimate Argyle in the race for the play-offs, after his side moved up to seventh in the table with a 2-0 win at Southampton last night. He said: "I think everybody would say we are probably the most unfashionable club left in the play-off chase. But somebody has forgotten to tell my players. They were absolutely fantastic from start to finish. Their shape, their organisation and their thought process when we had the ball and when Southampton had the ball was excellent. They all knew their jobs and when players go out with that kind of attitude and commitment you win football games." Sturrock was thrilled with Russell Anderson's performance, especially after flying from the north east only hours earlier. He said: "I thought Russell Anderson fitted in as though he had been there for four or five seasons. I met him at 4.30pm when he came for the pre-match meal. He had a quick shower, something to eat and then came to the game. He's needing games so it benefits Sunderland and it benefits us." Anderson was given his debut because Mathias Doumbe was sidelined by injury. Sturrock also revealed that his other loan signing, Gary Teale, could be transferred from Derby to Argyle in the summer. He said: "We are very hopeful the move can be made permanent. It's something we are looking into at this minute in time. Gary will be a good addition to the squad. He came on and fitted in very well. But I'm pleased for every one of the players. There is no point picking out individuals because it was very much a team performance."
Argyle's FA Youth Cup quarter-final against Manchester City will take place at Home Park next Tuesday, February 26th
Gary Teale knows what it takes to win promotion to the Premiership, and believes he can get there again with Argyle. Teale has accomplished promotion with both Derby and Wigan, where there was a contingent of Scottish players just as there is at Argyle now. "When I went to Wigan, it was the same, although, unfortunately, there wasn't a Scottish manager," he said, "and nobody really fancied us to get promoted. I'm hopeful we can have similarities to what we had at Wigan and surprise a lot of people. On tonight's performance, and, if we can keep it solid, then you never know. We will certainly give it a good bash." Teale saw enough of his new team-mates to know they were good value for their win last night. He said: "I was really impressed with the football. They like to get the ball down and like to play good football and I thought we thoroughly deserved to win. We were solid, and, with clean sheets - I think that's the third in a row - you have always got a chance. I'm delighted to come into a team that's winning and it's nice to be part of something that's positive. I was disappointed not to start, but it's up to me to force my way into the team. The boys have been doing well and winning but no-one's guaranteed a place, but, if I knuckle down, hopefully I will get a starting place soon. Everything's buoyant, everything's positive, it's a great club, and certainly a great bunch of lads." Teale knew of Paul Sturrock's interest in him and was keen to link up with him, as well as seeking regular first-team football. "He was big draw, knowing his reputation back home and what he's done since he's been down here," he said Teale. "I wanted to be back playing first-team football. I'd been in and out of the team. I was playing, but the gaffer said 'You could be in, you could be out' and I didn't really want that. I've known for a while that Argyle came in for me and I was quite keen to come, but the manager at Derby said 'Hang on and see what's happening here'. Then push came to shove and I was really desperate to play football. I am delighted to be here. We've been struggling in the Premiership, so it's just nice to be part of something that's positive. That's only my second win of the season." Teale also had his first experience of the Green Army at St Mary's. "Away fans always tend to be that more wee bit vocal than home fans," he added. "They got behind the team right from the start of the game and hopefully we can push on and get promoted. It's great to play in the Premiership. That's where everybody wants to play. If we can work hard, keep clean sheets, then you never know."
Paul Sturrock believes his side can make the play-offs. When asked after the game at Southampton whether he was saying his side could win promotion, he replied: "Are you astonished about that, son? You sound surprised. That's the mentality I'm talking about. If we say 'ah well, it's not going to happen?', we're sitting two points off the play-offs and we've had three wins in a row. If we can take the confidence of that, and turn our home form, which has been the disappointment of Argyle this season, we become dangerous hombres." Argyle were comfortable winners at Southampton, and Sturrock added: "I'm proud of every one of them. Their work-rate, their attitude, their thought-process when Southampton had the ball, was excellent. We have done a lot of work. There's been doom and gloom with the loss of the players we have had - January wasn't a very enjoyable month. These boys could quite easily have capitulated halfway through January and downed tools for the rest of the season, confidence-wise. But the players have responded to the work on the training-ground; the new players who have come in have blended very, very quickly; and it's very pleasing to see a team play great shape when the other team has the ball, and play offensively very well when we have it. This is the hardest job I have had. When Ian left, they were fourth; the caretaker managers took them to fourth; and, all of a sudden, we tumbled down to 12th, with a loss of personnel, as well." Argyle's first goal last night came from Peter Halmosi, his sixth of the season and Sturrock said: "He had a sticky time when the grounds were soft. He seems to be a top-of-the-ground player, and he likes the big occasions. He's definitely got real qualities and is a valuable asset to the football club."
Argyle won 2-0 at Southampton, the goals scored by Peter Halmosi after 31 minutes and Jim Paterson (33). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Anderson, Sawyer, Halmosi, Nalis, Abdou, Paterson, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Teale, Mackie (not used – Larrieu, Wotton, Fallon). Attendance - 17,806
Argyle have signed midfielder Gary Teale on loan from Derby County. Teale, who will go straight into the squad for this evening's game at Southampton, will remain at Home Park until the end of the season. Argyle also today signed centre-back Russell Anderson on a month's loan from Sunderland
Jim Paterson has had a great start to his Argyle career, and he wants to keep that going this evening at Southampton. He said: "It's been a great start for me. It was a big game at Leicester, and we went up there and won 1-0. Then we had a good result in midweek to bring us back up near to the play-offs, which is where we want to be. It will be another difficult game tonight, but we want to go there and take something away from the match to keep us in the running for the play- offs." Paterson started his career as a left-winger but made his name as a left-back at Motherwell, and that is the job he was primarily brought to Home Park to do. However, he has been used on the left of midfield in his first two Argyle appearances. "I've had to fill in in midfield," he said, "but I've played there before and I can adapt to it. As long as I'm playing, whether it's at left- back or left midfield, I'm happy." Paterson has also made swift progress settling into a new home in Plymouth. He added: "I've moved into a flat, and the family are coming down at weekends to see me, which is nice. They'll probably be moving down some time in June. The boys in the squad have made me very welcome as well. The team spirit is good." Argyle parted company with several key players during January, and Paterson said: "I didn't know them personally, but we lost a couple of big players in January. The pressure was on then, and the gaffer has had to bring new boys in. We seem to have settled in quite well, which doesn't always happen, and we've managed to win our last two games. That breeds confidence within the team. It's a tight division, you can win two and lose two, but we're in good form and we just want to keep it going." Paterson was halfway through a two-game ban when he joined Argyle, which meant that he missed the home defeat to Hull City. He said: "I was suspended against Hull, and I'd only trained with the boys for about 20 minutes before that game. If I had played, that would not have been ideal. As it was, I had a full week's training to get to know them before the Leicester game, which was good. It's been hard, with so many players coming in, but that's the way football is these days, and you have to adapt." Southampton have not had much success lately but they still deserve respect, according to the Paterson. "I know they like to get the ball down and pass it," he said. "They are a big club and they've got good players, so we'll need to be on our game defensively, but when we get the ball we need to show what we can do."
Paul Sturrock will delay a decision on team selection for Argyle's game at Southampton tonight until as late as possible. Marcel Seip and Chris Clark are definitely out, but Sturrock admitted two other players were struggling to be fit for the trip. He said: "They have got niggling knocks and will be given every opportunity to play tonight." Seip has been ruled out of the last five games because of his groin problem and Clark has missed the last two with a thigh strain. Of Clark Sturrock said: "His injury is a bit more severe than we thought. It isn't mending like it should be. It's something we'll have to look into." Yoann Folly is still not fully fit, but may have to be used on the bench tonight. Sturrock said: "He'll play as long as he can manage on Wednesday. We're trying to get to bottom of his infection. He's on antihistamine tablets to see if it's an allergy. He's got a dog in his house, which we think might be part of the problem, but we'll have to wait and see." Southampton suffered a shock FA Cup defeat at Bristol Rovers on Saturday, and Sturrock is wary of a backlash from them. He said: "It's going to be a difficult game. You just don't know what Southampton team is going to turn up. They have got quality players and, on their day, they can be absolutely terrific, but we have got to play on their inconsistency and the disappointment of Saturday. Hopefully, we can turn in the same sort of performance that we did against Leicester and Barnsley. They have got a big squad of players. The boy Wright-Phillips came on as a sub on Saturday, and I would expect him to play. They have got matchwinners in their side and this is the problem you have got when you play this kind of team. You just don't know what's going to happen on the day. You have got to go there and do your own thing. Southampton have got to get back on the rails very quickly because they are beginning to drop into the wrong area of the league. So I would expect a real reaction from them, but I'm very hopeful that we can respond properly as well." Sturrock was Southampton manager for six months in 2004, and added: "I have been back there before and they were very good to me the last time so I don't envisage any problems."
Paul Sturrock has asked about taking Newcastle United's 20-year-old defender David Edgar on loan, as have Ipswich Town and Norwich City, but reports suggest that Kevin Keegan is reluctant to let any players leave at the moment
Nadjim Abdou is enjoying life at Home Park, and hopes to stay at Argyle beyond the end of the season. He said: "We have won the last two games and we are in a good spirit. Now we hope to win again. I'm happy at Plymouth and I have learned a lot from the two managers. I'm enjoying it and I want to stay here for a long time." Abdou was signed by Ian Holloway, he hopes to prove to Paul Sturrock that he has a long-term future at Home Park. He said: "I have enjoyed playing for two great managers and I hope to play more and more games." Abdou is one of five French players at Home Park - but he insisted that all the players at Home Park had made him feel welcome at the club. He said: "All the players - French, English and Hungarian - have been very good to me." After beating Leicester and Barnsley, Argyle are ninth in the table, five points behind sixth-placed Ipswich Town. Abdou added: "The spirit among the players and at the club is good. When you are winning it's no problem. It will be a hard game against Southampton. They always are when you are away from home. But we will concentrate a lot on how we want to play and we will see what happens."
Yoann Folly has spoken of his relief at the prospect of returning to action following his medical problem. Folly underwent tests to find out what the problem was, and the results came back as an infection - and after treatment to deal with the problem - he was back training on Friday. He said: "It went all right - I was really glad to be back in training. I just wanted to get back as soon as possible. At the moment, I just want to finish with this infection. It's okay now and it's a huge relief to get it sorted out. It's much better since I have had treatment for it."
Gyorgy Sandor is set to make his Argyle debut in a reserve game at home to Swindon Town next Wednesday. Paul Sturrock said: "We're very hopeful Sandor will play for the reserves on Wednesday. I'm expecting he will play for around 30 minutes to test himself, but he's responded well in training." Yoann Folly will also play, but like Sandor is not expected to play the full 90 minutes. "We'll have to see how long we'll play Folly," said Sturrock. "But I'm optimistic he will play a part." Sturrock is planning to use the youth team for Argyle's Devon Bowl quarter-final tie at Dawlish Town next Wednesday, and added: "Those players who are not part of the squad for the Southampton game, will get a run out against Swindon on Wednesday."
Steve MacLean has admitted he was delighted to score his first Argyle goal on Tuesday night. "It is always nice to score that first goal," he said. "It is a milestone. As a striker, getting off the mark is important as it can maybe eat away at you until you do it. So it was nice, but the most important thing was the result. Getting three points was first and foremost. Last Saturday would have meant nothing had we not won on Tuesday. If you look at the table we are in eighth and I think we have to look to push on from here." MacLean is hoping he can help that progress by scoring more goals between now and the end of the season. "Let's hope so," he said. "I think since I came here all I have been missing is goals. I would like to think my all-round play has been good, but it was just nice to get the goal as well. I was chuffed. I think it might have taken a slight deflection, but I don't score many deflected goals, so it makes a change." MacLean has only been in Plymouth just over a month, but he says he already feels at home. "I've settled in with no problems whatsoever," he said. "The boys here are great and they are an easy bunch to get on with. And the people in Plymouth seem really friendly. I have got myself a place down on the Barbican and it's so nice looking out at the view every morning." MacLean is also delighted to be working again with Paul Sturrock, who managed him at Sheffield Wednesday. "That was one of the big reasons I came here - to work with Luggy," he said. "To be fair, what you see is what you get with him and that's what I like."
Paul Sturrock is disappointed Argyle do not have a game tomorrow, and said: "It's disappointing. I'd have liked a game on the Saturday. When you have a momentum going in the right direction, you don't want to change it, but it does give us some time off. We'll start the build-up for Tuesday's game on Friday."
Paul Wotton has sent a heartfelt 'thank you' to Argyle's fans for the reception he got when he made his first-team comeback on Tuesday. He said: "It definitely did cross my mind on the night that it would be good to get on in front of the home fans. Ever since I suffered the injury they have been so supportive. The amount of cards and messages I had, and the number of people I had asking me how I was doing and when I would be back, was incredible. I would like to thank them all for their support. The reception I got on Tuesday brought a lump to my throat." It was not only the fans who applauded Wotton when he came on as a substitute against Barnsley, so did his team-mates, led by skipper Lilian Nalis. Wotton said: "It's nice to be appreciated. It just goes to show all the hard work that I put in was worth it. I have worked my tail off and there was some real dark times during those 14 months. Anyone who has not been through it does not know what it's like. It's absolute hell. You go to hell but you do eventually come out the other side of it. Hopefully, I'm a stronger person for it. It was just great to be back out there again." Wotton compared the feeling to when he made his debut for Argyle in 1995. "I was a bit edgy coming on but the reception I got was great," he said. "I had been dreaming about it for a long time." Wotton had tried to catch the attention of Paul Sturrock during the second half against Barnsley by constantly warming up on the touchline. He revealed: "When Jamie scored the second one, I turned to the gaffer and said 'Come on, you aren't going to lose now, you may as well chuck me on' and he replied 'All right'. I was itching to get on and, thankfully, I did. It's one hurdle out of the way. There are a couple more to go and then I can start pushing for a start. But it will be hard because the boys are doing well at the minute." 24 hours after his first-team comeback, Wotton played for Argyle reserves in their 1-1 draw away to Cheltenham Tow, and he added: "The knee is fine. Me and the medical staff manage it. We keep on top of it. I keep doing my exercises every day and that's a way of life for me now. I'm into that habit now so it's fine. I feel strong in myself."
Jamie Mackie grabbed the headlines on Tuesday but Paul Sturrock was happy to praise the two strikers he had picked to start the game against Barnsley. He said: "I thought MacLean did extremely well. He ran the line very well, and was very thoughtful in his approach. He's a different player to what we have had here in the past. He sees things and he links up play very well. He's also always around, sniffing for a goal." Sturrock also picked out Easter for a special mention. "He had an excellent game," he added. Two of Argyle's midfielders gained Sturrock's seal of approval as well. "I thought Lilian had an excellent game as well," he said. "He was here, there and everywhere, breaking up play very well. I thought Jim Paterson had a good game as well. Jim has fitted in quickly, and looks as though he's never been out of the team. He put some crosses in, and had a couple of shots as well."
Argyle reserves drew 1-1 at Cheltenham Town last night, the goal scored by Rory Fallon. Geoff Crudgington said: "The first half was not as good as we're used to - it was a bit of a scrappy game at times. But in the second half the boys played very well. The senior lads did okay and worked hard - Cheltenham had a good side out as well so it was quite a competitive game. The goal was a good bit of play from Luke Summerfield and a good finish." Argyle: Saxton, Moult, Watts, White, Hodgkinson, Wotton, Mackie, Summerfield, Fallon, Jutkiewicz, Smith. Subs - McCrory (not used - Misiewicz, Barnes, King, Duggan)
Argyle's youth side will meet Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup after City beat Bristol City 4-2 last night
Paul Sturrock refused to get carried away after Jamie Mackie's dream debut in the 3-0 win over Barnsley last night. He said: "He has got a lot to learn. After he scored, his next six touches all went to the opposition and that is what we have got on our hands - a young, hungry learning person who wants to be involved at this standard. He has one hell of a knack when things are bobbling around in the box of putting it in the goal. That will never change, so we just have to get the other things right." Barnsley's Lewin Nyatanga was sent off for a professional foul after just four minutes, and Steve MacLean scored from the resultant free-kick, but Sturrock said: "It is the worst scenario in the world. Three or four minutes into the game they go down to ten men - it galvanizes teams. I thought there were 12 on the pitch rather than ten. How many times have you seen a ten-man team nip a draw or a win? We could be sat here with a 1-1 or even a 2-1 defeat and we would all be in the doldrums. We have got to kill teams off quicker because people sometimes think the game is finished at 1-0. It made us a little bit more nervous and tetchy. We dropped our tempo in the first-half, which was disappointing. We came out in the second-half with a higher tempo, created a lot more chances and got around the box. When you play with a slow tempo, you have still got two banks of four waiting on us, which made it really hard for our front men. We got in behind them better in the second-half and we were able to construct a few moves that finished with opportunities." Sturrock also conceded that he felt the sending-off was a harsh decision. He said: "I thought it was harsh and spoilt the game. I am obviously the manager who benefits, so I can't say too much about it. Easter actually said the incident happened in the box, but that's football. I think it was a foul, and when you are the last defender, you are always in danger of getting yourself sent off, but it was far enough out for perhaps somebody else to get back and cover. They seemed to get tangled up and I can't really say what happened - the linesman probably had a better view." Mackie will grab the headlines but Sturrock also reserved praise for MacLean, as well as Jermaine Easter, Lilian Nalis and Jim Paterson. He added: "Somebody said there was a deflection on the free-kick but I am not sure. There is no way anybody else is going to claim the goal. I thought MacLean did very well. He ran the line very well and was very thoughtful in his approach. He is a different player to what we have had here in the past. He sees things and links up play very well. He is also around sniffing for a goal. Easter also had an excellent game, and I thought Lil had an excellent game as well, breaking up things. Jim Paterson also had a good game. He has fitted in as if he has never been out of the team. He put in some decent crosses." The final piece in the jigsaw was another solid defensive performance and Sturrock said: "I am very pleased about two clean sheets in a row. The back four has been very, very solid. We have only lost one goal in the last four games, which is very pleasing, and it was nice to score three as well."
Jamie Mackie scored the fastest debut goal in Argyle history last night, just 11 seconds after coming on as a substitute against Barnsley. He said: "I think the pace of the game was quite quick, but, when you are in a good vein of goalscoring form - and no-one could deny that, at Exeter, I was - it doesn't matter what level you are at, you are going to take the confidence of being hot in front of goal at any level. It doesn't matter which league you are playing in, I think you are going to get chances if you are my sort of player. I love attacking defenders and I got the opportunity. Once I got the first one, I had even more confidence. I thought I'd get another chance and I'm glad I took it." Mackie paid tribute to Jermaine Easter and Steve MacLean, adding: "In the last few games, they have told me to get warmed up and I thought I might have got a chance, but today the game needed freshening up a bit. Jermaine worked so hard, and had on Saturday as well, so it maybe needed some fresh legs. Jermaine and Macca worked so hard that defenders were tired by the time I got on, and I've got fresh legs and I love running with the ball." Describing his first goal, Mackie said: "I saw Macca get the ball and I peeled off, and as soon as it went over the top, I was going to make it mine, and no-one else's." Paul Sturrock has described Mackie as a 'development player' but he is determined to keep pressing his first-team claims. Mackie said: "I am here to develop as a player but I hope I will develop while I'm playing as well, because I do want to play games. I've come from non-league, so I am going to have things to work on in the game, but I'd be disappointed if other people here didn't have things they thought they could work on. They might think I have more to do, but I'm 100% committed to working on my game and I love improving my game. I'll be the last off the training-ground every day until my game is as good as anyone else's, if not better." Mackie admitted the possibility of scoring a hat-trick had been on his mind, but time ran out before he could complete that feat. He said: "There was always that chance, but I will leave that for another day." Mackie has, so far, loved every minute of life at Home Park. He added: "I have moved in with Gary Sawyer, who is one of my best mates anyway. He has made it so easy for me, and the lads here are brilliant."
Paul Wotton received a standing ovation when he came on as an 87th minute substitute against Barnsley last night, his first appearance since suffering a cruciate knee ligament injury in December 2006. Paul Sturrock said: "He told me he was going on, and I wasn't going to argue with him! It should have cleaned the tubes out for him. He had a shot at goal and a cross in the time he was on. I'm pleased for him, but there is still a lot of work to be done so he can get that sharpness back."
Argyle beat Barnsley 3-0 at Home Park, the goals scored by Steve MacLean after 6 minutes and Jamie Mackie (76 and 85). Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Doumbe, Sawyer, Halmosi, Nalis, Abdou, Paterson, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Mackie, Wotton (not used – Larrieu, Fallon, Summerfield). Attendance - 11,346
Krisztian Timar looks set to be included in Hungary's national squad for the first time next month. His national coach, Peter Varhidi, saw the win against Leicester City on Saturday and after the game told Timar he planned to include him in his squad for the friendly at home to Slovenia on March 26th. Timar said: "The coach said he enjoyed the game and he was very happy with both of us. Peter is usually in the squad and he said that next time he would pick me. He has followed how I'm playing here and he thinks I can help the national team." Timar admitted he would be 'very proud' to play for his country. Peter Halmosi won his 18th cap against Slovakia last week and only returned to training with Argyle on Friday. After all his travelling, Paul Sturrock was planning to only include him as a substitute against Leicester, but that changed when Chris Clark picked up a thigh strain in training. Halmosi admitted he had not particularly enjoyed the game against Slovakia and said: "It was a very poor game in an empty stadium. We played in Cyprus so there were no fans. Both teams were very tired because there had been a lot of travelling before the game. It was quite a boring game." Halmosi played out of position on the right-side of midfield against Leicester but still produced a superb display, and he added: "The manager wanted to rest me on Saturday and not include me in the starting eleven but Chris Clark got injured and I was put in the team on the right wing." Sturrock described Timar as a 'colossus' after Argyle's defeat of Leicester, when the defender coped superbly with the physical presence of Steve Howard. Timar said: "I was very happy about it. I think the whole team was terrific. I was satisfied with how I played against Howard but the main thing was the clean sheet and Peter scored so we won the game." Halmosi added: "I wanted to run to our supporters after I got the goal because we all knew the game was very important to them."
Chris Clark will have a late fitness test before Argyle's game at Barnsley tonight. Clark suffered a thigh strain in training on Friday and Paul Sturrock has insisted he will not take any chances on his fitness. Also, Clark's wife Julie is about to give birth to their first child at their home in the north of Scotland. Sturrock said: "Chris Clark will be given every opportunity to play tonight, but the worry with him is that he has got another thing on his mind at this minute. His wife is due to give birth at any time so if he doesn't make it - and with no game on Saturday - we might just kick him back up the road and get her walking up the stairs a couple of times. That works." Marcel Seip is set to miss his fifth successive match against Barnsley because of a groin injury, and Sturrock said: "Rest seems to have helped him over the last two or three days, but he's still feeling it a wee bit." Meanwhile, Paul Wotton is set to be on the bench again tonight and Sturrock added: "I wouldn't say Wottsie is what you would call 100 per cent but his presence around the changing room was excellent. I think his whole exuberance for the game rubbed off on certain people. I felt he needed a wee taste because he hadn't travelled with the first team to an away game since 2006, and I think he really enjoyed it. He had a look at me a couple of times, about coming off the bench, but I'm sure his time will come."
Argyle take on Barnsley at tonight with Paul Sturrock calling on his players to follow up their win at Leicester City on Saturday with another victory, but realises it will be no easy task as Barnsley are coming off a home win against West Brom on Saturday. He said: "That shows you they are no mugs. There are no mugs in this league. Everybody beats everybody else. They are coming here full of confidence and I'm sure it will be a very difficult game. They are a very, very capable team and they seem to have people who can pop up from nowhere. We have got to be on the top of our game and we have got to be really focussed on what we want to achieve. It's important we try to build a winning run. It's a scary league. There are a group of 10 teams who probably think they can still make that last play-off place, so there is an edge to every game." Sturrock believes the supporters will have an important part to play, and said: "I think Saturday proved, and Portsmouth in the FA Cup proved, that our players seem to respond to the noise and backing of the fans. I'm very hopeful now that people appreciate that history is history and, after Saturday, we can start looking ahead instead of backwards. I would like to think we get a great turn-out tonight with the fans totally committed behind the team, because we will need it." Tonight's game against Barnsley is the first of four Tuesday fixtures for Argyle in the next five weeks, and Sturrock added: "We are going to have to work very hard on making sure the team is fresh and ready for each game. I have found that difficult the last couple of times we have played on Saturday and then Tuesday. We have looked a bit stodgy at times on Tuesday nights. It's just coming up with a routine that enables us to do the work we need done, but also to have the legs for the game. People might say, 'What about personnel changes?', but I'm not a great believer in chopping and changing. Sometimes it breaks the rhythm of the team." Sturrock also confirmed he had made inquiries about adding new players to his squad on loan. He said: "We are in discussions with several clubs, but I wouldn't hold your breath for tonight."
Argyle will play their St Luke's Challenge Bowl quarter-final away to Dawlish Town on February 20th at 7.30pm. The winners will be away to Barnstaple or Tiverton in the semi-finals
Argyle's youth team beat Cheltenham Town 2-1 on Saturday, the goals scored by Ashley Barnes and Shane White
Luke McCormick made a stunning late save as Argyle beat Leicester City 1-0 on Saturday, and Paul Sturrock described it as one of the best he had ever seen. McCormick however was modest about it, and said: "I really can't remember too much about it. I didn't even see him hit the ball towards goal. I just saw it come over the top of some bodies and, fortunately, I was able to get enough on it to see it go over the top. But I think the boys in front of me did ever so well so it was nice to be able to help out as well. It's flattering what the manager has said about that save, but the most pleasing thing for me today was, obviously, the clean sheet and coming away with the points. I think everyone saw how tough it was out there. Leicester chucked everything at it and made it hard for us but I thought the boys were absolutely superb. They dug deep when they had to, got bodies in the way of things and I think we got the result we fully deserved, to be honest." It was the first time Argyle had come up against Ian Holloway since his departure from Home Park in November, and over 2,000 fans who travelled to the East Midlands, even though the match was live on television. McCormick said: "The fans turned out in numbers today. They didn't have to come because it was on the TV, so it's really good that we have done it for them." McCormick insisted that the pre-match talk about Holloway had not been a distraction for the players. He said: "You have to focus on the game. We were quite aware of what was going on but, at the same time, that's not our concern. We will leave that to the people who are involved." McCormick got a chance to meet Holloway as the squad arrived at the Walkers Stadium. He said: "As we came off the bus Ollie was stood by the changing room. He made a point of shaking everyone's hand, which was really nice of him because no-one really got to say 'goodbye' to him when he went. I wish him all the best really, and I'm sure he will do well here." Peter Halmosi played on the right-side of midfield against Leicester, instead of on the left as usual, and McCormick said: "I think Peter did tremendously well, especially being asked to play out of position. He showed a lot of composure for the goal and, thankfully, he tucked it away." Jermaine Easter was denied a goal by a fine save and McCormick added: "I think Jermaine did everything right and he was so unlucky, to be honest. He raced away, took a good touch and hit it with a lot of pace. I have spoken to him about it and he couldn't believe the 'keeper produced a world-class save. Fortunately, we didn't need that extra cushion." McCormick was clearly elbowed in the face by Leicester striker Steve Howard in the 14th minute, but referee Iain Williamson did not take any action, other than having a word with Howard. McCormick did not make an issue of the incident, however. "I got the free-kick and the ball didn't go in the net so I don't care," he said. "Steve is really good job at his job and you know what you are going to get. That's fair enough." Argyle and they are only two points behind sixth-placed Ipswich Town and take on Barnsley at Home Park tomorrow. McCormick said: "This win could really kickstart our season again. Lots has gone on over January and I think this is something we can use to our advantage. But it's no good if we don't take this into Tuesday and come out of that with something positive."
Paul Sturrock could not find fault with any of his players after the win at Leicester yesterday. He said: "Peter Halmosi had an exceptional game. He went a bit dizzy later on because he was a bit tired, but he showed he could play the Buster Phillips' role. I haven't ruled that out. We wanted to see Peter there because, over the years, I always seem to have left-sided players on the right-hand side because they can open the game up with their left foot. He didn't look out of place and he had a couple of other attempts he should have done better with. I think Jim Paterson had a very competent, out-of-position debut but I couldn't pick one player out because they were all so good. I thought Krisztian Timar probably had his best game since I've come at the football club - he was a Colossus in there - and Doumbe did a lot of covering up for him with his pace. I was very pleased with the back four. There were six Leicester forwards on the pitch at the end. There's no shape left to you. You have just got to hope people pick up runners. There were two or three times they nearly got in, late on, through the numbers' game, but I think it would have been a travesty on the day. I thought Jermaine Easter and Steve MacLean worked very, very hard. There's a wee understanding coming between the two of them, pace in behind and a bit of guile from MacLean. I thought he looked excellent. He brought us up the pitch. But I'm going on about individuals - this was a team performance. Their work-rate and attitude was different class, and their thought-process and shape were great. I felt we were reasonably comfortable today and maybe could have added to our lead."
Argyle won 1-0 at Leicester City, the goal scored by Peter Halmosi after 34 minutes. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Doumbe, Sawyer, Halmosi, Nalis, Abdou, Paterson, Easter, MacLean. Subs – Fallon, Hodges (not used – Wotton, Mackie, Jutkiewicz). Attendance - 21,264
Krisztian Timar is grateful to Ian Holloway for bringing him to Argyle, but is eager to help beat his Leicester City team today. He said: "Ian Holloway was my first manager in English football, and he taught me a lot of things about the game here. I thank him for that, but now I am looking forward to the game. We need to win this game. It doesn't matter who the manager of the opposition is, we need three points." Keeping Barry Hayles quiet is part of Timar's job, and he added: "Barry is a physical and a clever player. He is very experienced, he has played in the Premier League. I know Barry and he knows me, but hopefully he will be very sad after the game and I will be happy!"
Marcel Seip is a major doubt for Argyle's trip to Leicester City tomorrow. Paul Sturrock will give him every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the game, but said: "Seip will have a late fitness test and we have got another one who played last week who will also have a late fitness test because of something he picked up midweek. Seip's groin is still niggling and we don't want to put him out for the rest of the season, so we have to go gently. We have had a difficult time with one player expecting a baby anytime and another moving house, plus two boys away on international duty, so training has been a little disjointed." Jim Paterson is expected to make his debutand Sturrock added: "I have a decision to make on Jim Paterson and whether I give him his debut in the cauldron of the Walkers Stadium." Another possibility is club-captain Paul Wotton, and Sturrock said: "Paul Wotton is getting better and he has asked me whether he should bring his tracksuit and I said 'maybe'."
The second part of Argyle's official website's interview with Paul Stapleton was released yesterday, and in it he outlines the board's plans for the long-term expansion of the club. He said: "It is vital at this stage of our history that we develop in certain key areas that will provide the bedrock of a dynamic and sure long-term future for Argyle. To begin the pursuit of this aim, we are putting into place the building-blocks of a scouting system that is far more extensive than this club has ever had. We have suffered from a quick turnover of chief scouts in the recent past, all taking their dossiers with them. Andy King is our third in less than two years, but we are delighted to have someone of his unrivalled knowledge and widespread contacts - all over the world. Andy will oversee the already huge amount of work that goes into our rapidly evolving scouting process, bringing in players that will develop as individuals and take the club forward. Allied to this, in Paul Sturrock, we have a manager whose eye for talent and track-record in the transfer-market has always been excellent, not just with us: Peter Crouch's career was resurrected after Paul took him to Southampton; Michael Evans was a Bristol Rovers reserve before leading us to the Championship; Madjid Bougherra was signed for £300,000 at Sheffield Wednesday and sold for £2.5m; and there are many other examples. With Paul, we worked very hard through the whole of the January transfer-window to try to bring players to Home Park of the quality to take us forward. We met with resistance from clubs who weren't prepared to release players we had carefully targeted, or encountered players whose wage-demands were astronomical. We also experienced our unfair share of bad luck that was impossible to legislate for: one player was literally in his car on his way to Plymouth when he learned of a bereavement; another was at the airport, ready to fly in, when he decided, at the last minute, to stay put until the summer. However, we weren't, and have never been, prepared to put the long-term future of this club in jeopardy by short-term panic buys or by paying wages that are not sustainable. We appreciate that building squads is a cyclical process, and even the top teams like Manchester United and Arsenal have their fallow years, and Paul will be given time to see the process through. Another area which we have invested in heavily and see as hugely important to the long-term growth and sustainability of the club is youth development. We have seen the first seeds of this show signs of bearing fruit in our youngsters' excellent FA Youth Cup run this season and we believe that developing our own talent is crucial to the club's continued well-being. As fans, we are excited to see young skill come through and give solid service to Argyle, as the likes of Paul Wotton and Luke McCormick, to name just two, have done. It is equally pleasing to see Westcountry talent that we have nurtured progressing in the game, as Dan Gosling has recently. There is no hiding the fact that we feel the benefit from the fees we get from transfers like Dan's. We need to generate funds to support our wage-bill. There is no getting away from the fact that our gate-receipts, our principal source of regular income, are not what we had hoped for. With this in mind, we are constantly looking at ways of generating other sources of income. We intend to give a detailed update on the proposed South Stand development at our annual meeting next month. We see such a development as the way forward, but, in the same way we are not going to recklessly gamble with the club's future by paying inflated transfer fees and massive wages, we will not saddle the club with a huge commitment that prevents development on the pitch. This club's record, off the pitch, bears up to any examination. There is too much evidence of what happens to clubs who overreach themselves and it is our duty not to let this happen at Argyle. We are passionate about the club. That's why we are doing what we can to secure its long-term interests, not carelessly fritter away this position everyone has worked so hard for. We realize we can't please all of the people all of the time, but we are doing the best we can. Because we are fans. Because we care. Because we love Argyle. There are some things that will divide us, but there is one, much more important, thing that unites us: we are all Argyle fans; we are all signed up for a lifetime tour with the Green Army. Let's now march on Leicester, let's get behind Paul and the players, and let's look forward."
Paul Wotton believes he is fit and ready to make a return to first team action for Argyle. He said: "I felt strong on Tuesday and the knee is not an issue. It was another 90 minutes, so I'm pleased. I scored a good goal. It was a good chance for me to shoot and I was really chuffed to see it go in. Little things like that keep you going. I was understandably tired at the end of the game, but tell me a player who wasn't." Wotton played the first 45 minutes against Exeter on Tuesday at centre-back before moving into midfield, and he insisted he was ready to play in whatever position Paul Sturrock asked him to. Wotton said: "I don't care where I play. The gaffer knows me well enough to know that I will play wherever he wants me to. I will do a shift for him, wherever he wants me to play. Whether that means left wing, centre forward, left back - I don't care. Would I play on Saturday? Of course, I would. I'm ready whenever he wants me. I don't think I'm kidding myself when I say I don't feel any different to anyone else on the pitch. But I have got no control over it. All I can do is keep working hard, which I have done for the past 14 months. I have worked my tail off and I can see light at the end of the tunnel. He knows Paul Wotton and he knows that I would play. But it's up to Paul Sturrock - it's not up to Paul Wotton when I play. If asked to play, then I will. I feel great in myself and I feel ready." Wotton is ready to compete with any of Sturrock's new signings in order to remain part of the squad, and added: "You see him signing midfield players, but so what? That's football. I don't care how many centre-backs or midfielders the gaffer signs. It's up to me to prove to him that I'm good enough to be in his team. I will try my best all of the time, regardless of who is here and who has gone."
Jim Paterson is set to make his debut for Argyle against Leicester tomorrow, after missing the defeat by Hull as he completed a two-match ban incurred while at Motherwell. Paterson said: "It was frustrating. I didn't actually realise the suspension would carry over. The manager told me on Friday and it was disappointing because, obviously, you want to be involved. But we have got a big game tomorrow and, hopefully, I will be involved in that at some stage." Paterson has only been at Home Park for a week, but knows the special significance of tomorrow's Championship clash. He said: "Leicester are a big club, and from talking to people locally they tell me it's a big match for certain reasons. For me, it will be my first game and I'm really looking forward to it and I'm really up for it. It's also on the TV. We need the points because we want to climb the table and get as far up the league as possible before the end of the season. There are still a lot of games left and a lot to play for, so the main aim tomorrow is to get three points." Paterson's first game in an Argyle shirt came in the reserves' win against Exeter on Tuesday, when he scored one of the goals. Paterson said: "I hadn't played in two weeks because I was suspended at Motherwell so it was good to get a run-out. I read in the paper that the manager would have liked to see me tested more defensively but that's something I have worked on over the past couple of years. But with the way the game went, it worked out that I got forward quite a lot. I know myself that there will be games when I need to sacrifice that for the sake of the team and I'm willing to do that. That's fine. But I do like bombing on when it's possible - and it was good to get on the scoresheet on Tuesday because it doesn't happen very often. I think that's my one for the season, and I used it up in a reserve team game! It was with my right foot, which is my swinger, and a couple of boys were saying I didn't want to hit it, which is probably true. I was looking for a pass, but so what? It went in." Paterson flew to Scotland after the defeat by Hull before returning to Plymouth to play against Exeter. "It has been very hectic since last Tuesday and I have not had a minute to stop," he said. "I managed to get up the road to see my wife and kids and then I came back down on Monday and played in the game on Tuesday. It has been non-stop so I'm just looking forward to playing games now." Paterson added that his first impressions of Argyle, and Plymouth in general, were very good. He said: "I didn't realise the stadium was so big, and everybody I have spoken to has made me feel very welcome."
Yoann Folly is still struggling with the fitness problem that has caused problems in the early stages of his Argyle career. Paul Sturrock has sent the midfielder for tests in an attempt to identify the source of his difficulties, and said: "Yoann Folly is a worry to us. He is breaking down every time we try and put some fitness to him. He is having a blood test and some scans to see if we can get to the bottom of it. I think it might be a viral problem he has got, which is a real disappointment to me because he could have influenced a lot of games."
Paul Sturrock has insisted Saturday's meeting with Leicester City is just another game with three points on offer. He said: "It is three points that two sets of players are playing for and that is the way it should be approached. It is a game for three points and not the end of the world. There has been a lot of media coverage on the comments of my chairman. He made the statement to clarify with the fans the reasons why some players moved on in January and that is all he was trying to do. It has been blown out of all proportion, as usual, but it will make people watch Sky TV on Saturday because it puts an edge to the game. This coverage was given to the media as an explanation to our fans. I made plain what my thoughts are for this club last week and what we are trying to achieve." Sturrock praised the achievements and progress Ian Holloway made during his 18-months at Home Park, and added: "Ian did a fantastic job for this football club. He brought some good players to the club and he should be remembered for that." Sturrock is expecting Argyle fans to behave in the right way on Saturday. He said: "I would like to think that, with the type of fans we have got; they will be appreciative and back their team. Anywhere I have been in the past they have been absolutely fantastic. I know they will back their team to the hilt as soon as the whistle blows, and that is what a football fan is all about. There are other things that have muddied the water but, as far as I am concerned, there is a football game to be won. We want to get back on the rails with a win because, at this minute, we have been drawing and losing. It is vitally important for the club to get back on the rails and we have been working very hard. It will be a difficult game. We have not won in 17 games at Leicester, which is great to know - I am very hopeful we can buck the trend. They have come off a confidence booster at home to Crystal Palace, although they lost at Blackpool on Saturday to a goal at the end of the game. They have got to get back on the rails as well. They need points and we need points, so it should be a really interesting game."
Jamie Mackie had his first taste of action for Argyle on Tuesday in the reserve fixture against Exeter City and Gary Sawyer, who was a team-mate of Mackie's at St James' Park, said: "I'm made up for Jamie. Me and him are really good mates. We lived together when I was at Exeter, and I've spoken to him near enough every day since then. He's a great player, and he deserves his chance more than anyone. Having seen him at Exeter, he just grafts and grafts and grafts. Luckily enough, it's come off for him. I hope he does well here. It is a big step up. I know I was at Plymouth to start with, but I still had to make the jump. I was only a Conference player when I came back here. I'd never played any first-team games here, so in that way I was no different to what Jamie is. I think everyone should wait and see what he can do. I think he can do it, definitely." Paul Sturrock watched Mackie on Tuesday. The striker played most of the game up front alongside Lukas Jutkiewicz, before finishing the match on the right side of midfield. "The boy Mackie didn't look as though he's a wide-right player," Sturrock said, "but he's got a bit of pace and he steals things. He got himself through their defence and there are things we can work on."
Paul Stapleton insisted today he was not blaming Ian Holloway for players leaving the club. Following on from the statement he released yesterday, he said: "I'm not blaming Ian Holloway, but I thought it right that these things were said. To be honest, I would have felt it the right time to say these things whoever we were playing on Saturday. Remember, the January transfer window has just shut and David Norris was only transferred last Thursday, so this is the first time I've had the opportunity to say these things. What I'm responding to is people talking about a mass exodus of players, but there hasn't been a mass exodus - what it boils down to really is Norris and Ebanks-Blake. We didn't want David Norris to leave, but we understand that he wanted to move back to his family and that he's getting married soon. Within a football club, there's always things going on and when one player leaves, then another is brought in. You have to get the threads together again and I feel a bit sorry for Paul Sturrock, who's come in with all this happening." Stapleton said the club now wanted to look forward, rather than back. He said: "You've also got to look at the players that we've brought in. Who looked at Norris and Ebanks-Blake and thought what great players they'd be? The new players have had to hit the ground running, because we are in the Championship and it's a hard league. We are against clubs with big budgets and, in a sense, we are punching above our weight." Stapleton said he did not blame the fans for feeling a sense of gloom and doom about the club's prospects. He added: "You can't knock the fans - I appreciate they want to see a winning team, but we all want to see a winning team. We certainly appreciated the 11,000 who turned out to watch us against Hull on Saturday, but it would be nice to see the three, four or five other thousand who were there when we were in a higher position to come along and try and support their club. But if they don't, then we shall try and handle it with what we have."
Peter Halmosi came on as a second-half substitute during Hungary's 1-1 draw with Slovenia last night
Paul Stapleton has spoken publicly for the first time about the January transfer-window, and also revealed that Ian Holloway had asked the Home Park board not to renegotiate the contract of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, because Holloway regarded his attitude as 'questionable'. Stapleton also states that the board had wanted to keep Akos Buzsaky, but had been persuaded by Holloway to let him join QPR. Stapleton said: "It has been well documented that the only way we could get Sylvan to sign for us from Manchester United was to agree to a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave if a club offered us £1.5m for him, which eventually happened. We knew that agreeing to that clause was the only way we could get Sylvan, and Ian Holloway begged us to get him. What a lot of people do not know until now was that we tried to talk to his agent about a new contract which would have seen that clause removed for due financial consideration. But, when the matter came up at a board meeting, Ian told us not to do it. I'd spoken to Peter Ridsdale at Cardiff about how they had renegotiated Michael Chopra's deal in similar circumstances. We mentioned it to the manager at one board meeting, and he was all up for it. At the next board meeting, the day before our chief executive Michael Dunford already had a meeting lined up with Sylvan's agent, the manager said there was no way we should offer Sylvan a new contract. Ian said he was not happy with Sylvan's level of fitness and sometimes questionable attitude, and said that, if we received an offer of £1.5m for him, we should accept it. We asked him whether he was sure and he said that he was, so we told Michael Dunford not to take the matter any further. You have to back your manager. Exactly two weeks later, Ian left. Another thing that many people did not know was that the clause was only triggered in January 1st - on January 3rd, Wolves came in. A lot of clubs seemed to know about the clause. I'll give Sylvan credit because he knew about Wolves' interest on January 4th, and, on January 5th, he played for us against Hull in the FA Cup and helped get us through. On David Norris Stapleton claimed: "David Norris gave Plymouth Argyle very good service; he was energetic, a very good player, a talisman. The problem began because, last summer, he was told by Ian Holloway that he could leave the club in January. David got a bit confused, I think, and believed that the board had agreed he could leave in January. I spoke to David for two hours the evening before our game at Stoke in September, to try to get him back on board for us. I had to tell him that I'd never promised anything about a move but I promised him we'd review his situation in January. January 2nd came, and he came to see me, saying he wanted to go. He saw me many more times in January, each time saying he wanted to go. At one point, he said he would stay if we gave him £10,000 a week for the rest of the season and let him go in the summer for £500,000. I told him there was no way we could sanction that - not necessarily the weekly wages, but we could not let him go to any club that offered us £500,000. He badgered us to death, all the time saying that he had been promised that he could go. It took until January 31st for him to go because, all the way along the line, we told him we didn't want to lose him. I had six meetings with him in January and every time I said we were not letting him go. I saw Norris more times in January than I saw my family. Two days before the transfer deadline, he told me he was never going to play for Argyle again. That phone call seemed conclusive in my mind. We had a player who categorically stated he wanted to go, that he didn't want to be at Argyle any more, wanted to safeguard his future, wanted to be near his family, and was adamant he'd been promised a move. Paul Sturrock said we should only let David Norris go if we received money that represented good value, and even on January 30th, when I spoke to David Sheepshanks, we weren't of a mind that we would definitely do the deal. It was only when Ipswich came up with a significant amount of money, and the friendship of the Bolton chairman and Ipswich chairman, who negotiated over a sell-on clause included in David's move to us from Bolton, that the transfer went through. On Akos Buzsaky Stapleton said: "Akos went a few weeks before Ian Holloway left, way before Paul Sturrock came here. On the day of our match at Charlton in October, I had spoken with Ian and we had agreed to sign Easter on loan with a view to a permanent deal. That was fine. The next day, we were talking about Buzsaky with Ian and agreed his wages for a new contract. Then Akos's agent wanted a chunk of money, which caused a bit of a fuss. We were quite against paying that extra money because we felt it wasn't appropriate for a player who was already with us. Ian then said he was not fussed if Akos went. He said he was not universally liked in the dressing-room. I told Ian that he didn't have to sell Akos. We weren't looking for the money from a transfer fee. We already had the money for Easter lined up. It wasn't a problem. It was sad that Akos left two weeks before Ian went himself. I don't think he particularly wanted to leave. I personally liked Akos. He was a likeable character, although he maybe didn't always perform consistently. We would have kept him, but you have got to back your manager. On Dan Gosling Stapleton added: "The seeds of the deal with Everton for Dan Gosling had already been sown by Ian Holloway long before Paul Sturrock arrived. We knew that Everton would come in at some time for Goz and that we couldn't stand in his way when they did. It was a question of when and how much, but we always knew that was on the cards. It had been virtually sealed before Ian had gone. When Paul Sturrock came in, he merely finished the deal off with Everton manager David Moyes, but, really, the deal had already been done. A youngster who had played 16 games for us has gone on to hopefully better his career. He did well for us, played for England, and we wish him well. On Barry Hayles Stapleton said: "We believed that Barry Hayles was going to leave us at the end of his contract in the summer and probably join Leicester next season. I had already received an offer from Leicester for Barry at 4.50pm on the deadline-day for loan transfers, which was November 22nd, the same day that Ian left us, but a few hours before he was appointed Leicester manager. I had to turn the offer down. After all, I did not have a manager to discuss the offer with! Barry had said had said that he wanted to be closer to his family in London, so he was going to go, sooner, rather than later. Paul Sturrock did not want a player who appeared to be going to another club. He didn't believe he could get the best out of him. Barry did very well for us, and we respect his decision to go, but what could Paul Sturrock do? What could we do? In the end, we got more than we paid for him, so it was a good deal. In conclusion Stapleton said: "All these things happened during Ian's tenure. But we didn't want Ian to go. We wanted him to see things through with us. I know some people will think that the timing of this is not the best, seeing as we play Leicester at the weekend, but these things have been on my mind for some time now. I've got to say what I think, and I've got to let the fans know something of what's been going on."
Argyle reserves beat Exeter City 4-0 at Harpers Park yesterday afternoon, the goals scored by Lukas Jutkiewicz, Dan Smith, Jim Paterson and Paul Wotton. Paterson was making his first appearance for Argyle since his transfer from Motherwell last Thursday, and Paul Sturrock said: "I would like to have seen him under a bit more pressure defensively. I always knew he was a good player coming forward, because he was a wing-back/left winger who has converted himself to left-back. I think there is a wee bit of work needed to be done with him positionally, but I was very pleased with what I saw." Asked whether Paterson could play on Saturday, Sturrock replied: "It's early days. We will look at his defensive qualities in training on Thursday and take it from there." Wotton played the first 45 minutes at centre-back, before swapping positions with Lee Hodges at the start of the second half, and spent the rest of the game in the centre of midfield. Sturrock said: "His progress is very pleasing. He didn't look out of sorts." Argyle: Larrieu, Moult, Wotton, White, Paterson, Abdou, Summerfield, Hodges, Smith, Jutkiewicz, Mackie. Subs - Hodgkinson, Watts, Barnes
Gyorgy Sandor should know by the middle of the month when he can start playing again. Argyle signed the Hungarian during the transfer window even though he had two separate injuries, as Paul Sturrock did not want to leave doing a deal until the summer and risk losing him to another club. So Sandor was signed on loan, with a view to a permanent transfer, and since then has been busy working with Paul Maxwell on a rehabilitation programme. Maxwell said: "When the knee was examined, the scans showed quite a lot of problems. But it now seems that some of them were old ones and some more recent. The knee has settled down pretty quickly, I have got to say, and Gyorgy is cracking on with his rehabilitation already. He's progressing well and we will see where are with him in a couple of weeks time. But, at this minute in time, there is no real date on when he could come back into training. He's doing a lot of running and is almost halfway through the rehab. Gyorgy speaks English extremely well and that helps quite a lot. I'm pushing him hard but he's a good lad and he's getting on with it."
Three points will be the only thing on Lee Hodges' mind when Argyle visit Leicester City on Saturday. He said: "Ian did what he did for the club and he decided to move on. It is all about three points and I don't think he will care about us on Saturday, just like we won't be thinking about him. The objective will be to go there and win the game and that is all that matters. He will obviously know a few of us and how we operate, but he has still got to mould his team to beat us. It was the same when he was here and we played QPR; he knew most of their team. I don't think it really matters. It is a big game and everyone is looking forward to it, although it is probably bigger for the fans than anyone else." One man certain not to mention the Holloway issue will be Paul Sturrock. "I will be very surprised if Luggy even mentions Ian Holloway," said Hodges. "He will just show us the way Leicester play on the training pitch and we have to come up with a way we can beat them. We will work on our stuff. How to stop them from playing and how we are going to beat them - that is our target for the week." Hodges admitted the defeat to Hull last Saturday was a poor day at the office for the team. He said: "We were very disappointed after going into the game knowing that a win would put us within a point or two of the play-offs. To concede right on half-time was very disappointing. We rallied in the second-half but it just didn't happen for us on the day." It could have been a very different story if Krisztian Timar's goal in the first ten minutes had not been disallowed for an apparent push on the goalkeeper by Rory Fallon. Hodges added: "Everyone seems to have asked the question, what was it disallowed for? We are still not sure of the answer. It may have been for a foul on the goalie but I don't think anybody could really see much wrong with the goal." On a personal level, Hodges is desperate to win his place back in the team after spending the last four games as a substitute, after a run of 20. He said: "I was disappointed to be taken out of the team but that happens. I will just train as hard as I can and, when my chance comes again, I will hopefully take it because I obviously enjoyed my run in the team. I have enjoyed playing left-back this season because it is probably the most consistent I have been for a long while. Instead of changing positions, I have been able to get the feel of the position. Having said that, I played centre-midfield at Watford and really enjoyed it." One position Hodges has not played in his career is goalkeeper, but it still remains a possibility. He said: "Many years ago Sturrock was thinking about having five outfield players on the bench and he asked whether I would go in goal if needed. I have had gloves on once or twice in training. If it ever happened, I would go in goal, but, fingers crossed, touch wood, it never does."
Paul Sturrock will not have all his squad available for training this week. Peter Halmosi is with the Hungarian national team in Cyprus, where they face Slovakia tomorrow, and Jermaine Easter has linked up Wales ahead of their friendly against Norway. Sturrock said: "The problem is that we have a couple of people away on international duty, so people who have been regulars in the team are not going to be here until Friday. We've also got one or two others who are moving houses and families from other parts of the country. They're going to miss certain training days due to that problem. But, the quicker they get settled in the area, the better the concentration will be on the training ground."
Paul Connolly is upbeat about the prospects for Argyle this season, despite the sale of several top players last month. He said: "The gaffer has told us things can only be sorted out on the training ground. We all know what he's like, especially me. We are going to be working our tails off like never before, but you don't mind as long as the results come and you are as fit as anything. I think we have all got to pick ourselves up on Monday, get on with it and go to Leicester and get the three points. One win would change the mood. I think we are still only five points from the play-offs, and I'm definitely not ruling the play-offs out - no chance. But it seems like everyone in the stadium is, and if that's the case they might as well not come to the games. If they are going to come to the games and boo the hell out of us they might as well stay at home and start booing the radio." Connolly insisted Argyle could turn their fortunes around. He added: "We have still got a strong squad with some good players. If we start using what has gone on as an excuse then it's going to kill our season." Connolly also believes that Sturrock made some good signings in January to replace those who were sold. He said: "They have shown in training they are all good players. And we have got a new boy in Jim Paterson, who looks a good player. Players come and go. So what? It's going to be even worse in the summer. There are probably going to be eight players going and eight coming in. It's going to be unbelievable. The gaffer has told us that it's a new era for the club. It's whether the fans want to stick with it, or whether they are not going to bother coming. We have all got to stick together. We can't just let the season peter out. We don't want to be playing nothing games in March, April and May, so it's up to us to make sure that every game becomes a cup final from now until the end of the season." Hull beat Argyle on Saturday after a goal in first half stoppage time from Dean Windass, and Connolly said: "Between me, Gaz, Clarky and Peter, I must have counted 10 really good crosses into the box in the first half. All we needed was someone to get a nice free header or something to drop for us. Then, as soon as they go down the other end, they put one ball in the box, there is a little bit of a miskick from Krisztian and it's a goal. Even Windass miskicked it. He was laughing as he ran away. That just sums it up. We put 10 great deliveries in the box and they put one in, and they scored from it. As it was a minute before half-time, it absolutely knocked the stuffing out of us. They couldn't have scored at a worse time for us." Argyle struggled to create any chances in the second half, and Connolly added: "It wasn't for the lack of trying but the push just didn't come. As soon as the ball was going out of play they were time-wasting. They sat on the edge of their box and we started banging it forward high and hopelessly and they swept everything up. It just petered out into a 1-0 defeat."
Paul Sturrock has revealed that Yoann Folly missed the game on Saturday because of a medical problem. He said: "He has got a breathing problem. We think he might have a virus of some sort that's not enabling him to get enough air into his lungs. We are going to have to get to the bottom of it because we could do with him at the top of his game at this minute in time."
Argyle's youth team beat Bournemouth 6-2 in the Youth Alliance League on Saturday. The goals were scored by Josh Grant (2), Damien McCrory (2), Bobby Hopkinson and Ashley Barnes
Paul Sturrock held a long Press conference on Friday, in which he outlined his future manifesto for the club. He said: "This is an ambitious club - the fans, the board and the management are no different to any other club - but we suffer from unique hindrances at times. All gates have dropped this season, which does not help as far as budgeting is concerned. We are 7% down all around the country. When you make your budget and then find you are 7% down, it does not take a rocket scientist to appreciate that you need revenue to cover that expenditure." The departure of several players has boosted the transfer budget though, and Sturrock said: "I have a hefty war-chest now and the buying of players and negotiating with other clubs is one of the easiest things in football. The problems, like any football club living within its means, is paying wages. We have had four players that I think would have excited the fan-base, who we negotiated deals with their clubs only to learn that we would have to pay them £10,000 per week. Those players have moved onto other football clubs in our league; clubs that are dramatically higher attended than we are. That is not in any way a detriment to our fans. Three-and-a-half thousand were fantastic at Portsmouth and 13-14,000 here at Home Park is good, especially when you consider the regional factors where wages are not on a level playing field to the rest of the country. There were two players I was linked with who, over the three years of wages and the fees, would have cost this club £4m. If you take the figures from one of the local papers today, we have £4m to spend - that £4m would have gone on two players." Other factor's that have worked against Argyle is geographical isolation and other clubs trying to take advantage of the boosted transfer kitty. Sturrock said: "The location of this town is sometimes detrimental to bring players down here. One foreign player I looked at had cold feet when he looked at the map and saw where we are. The scary thing is that when people get down here, they don't want to leave. I am talking to players and they say to me that they need to talk to the wife. I must have lost at least half a dozen players in this window who, after talking to the wife, say that she didn't fancy it. Roy Keane mentioned, the other week, that he was having problems with that. People ignored it, but it is a fact. The other problem we had was that other clubs know that we have money. There were players I would have brought to the club who were overpriced and overvalued. It was scary money that we were being asked for. These prices might drop dramatically at the end of the season because the players might be going out of contract." The sale of seven players, and the arrival of eight new additions made January the busiest transfer window in the history of the club, and Sturrock said: "Last week was the most farcical I have been involved in at a football club. Panic mode set in because of the loss of players we have had because of the loss of quality, the position we are in the league, and the expectations of fans. I could have easily rushed in and blown my cash. Clubs can make unsuccessful signings and we would have ended up with no money left and a squad that was not up to the standard I was expected to build. In the cold light of day, I am relieved that certain players I targeted turned us down. What I would like to do is tell our fans where we are coming from now. We are going to try and exploit the loan system from now to the end of the season, but only if there is an opportunity we can buy the player at the end of the loan. I am not saying that, if there was a real serious hole, we would not loan a player to benefit us, knowing that I am not going to buy him at the end of the season. I would like to bring loan players in. I would like to deals with their clubs. I would like them to see us and I would like us to see them. We would get a look at them, which would enable us to make a decision and I think that is sensible business." Sturrock has placed his faith in the experience of Andy King, despite the fact that he has not been a chief scout before. Sturrock said: "We have appointed a chief scout and a lot of our fans will be expecting him to have this huge dossier of players from the first day they walked through the door. The chief scout before had been the chief scout at Bristol Rovers and QPR. I invested in the experience of Andy King because he knows everybody in the game, but it takes time for somebody to build a dossier. He came at an unfortunate time but we now have the chance to build a long-term structure and fill our dossier with the type of players we want, and that means worldwide players." In the short-term, King will be looking at the possibility of capturing players from abroad on pre-contracts. "We have the opportunity for cross-border pre-contract players," said Sturrock. "We also have the opportunity to watch them a minimum of three times, so we can be certain that some of these players are going to fit straight into the side. This is a deliberate process and shows how we want to structure our club. We want to make sure we have got a solid base to build from." Restructuring Argyle is a job Sturrock has done before and he is in the mood to do it again. He said: "The last three managers did a fantastic job for the club and they had a solid backbone to work with. They all mentioned the importance of that backbone in various Press conferences. But that backbone has been sifted away over the years - there are very few of them left. A new backbone has to be built for this team. I want everybody to be appreciative that there is a job of work to be done and I am excited." Sturrock returned to Argyle in November with the team fourth in the table, and the increased expectations led to him describing the job as 'the hardest in football.' "I came here under the mantle of having the hardest job in football," he said. "So far, I have failed. I am maybe being a bit harsh because there have been certain aspects that I would never of imagined happening that have happened - that is football. I want to emphasise to my fans that I am here for the long haul. I am here to remould this club. We want to be a successful football club and we want to play in the Premier League. When I left here, we had that in mind and nothing has changed since I came back. Who knows when but we will be working our tail off to achieve it. This is a financially sound football club and there are very few clubs who can say that. We do have problems with bringing players to the club but we have managed to reach fourth in this league with managers who have brought players in, and they have moved on. I am very hopeful of being the manager to do that. As the seasons unfold, I am very hopeful that this place will become somewhere people want to come to. As the other clubs fall by the wayside financially, we will be a stronger team. It is hard work but I have squad of players and a management team, and a board that all want to be successful. No board at any club does things to the detriment of the team. They want to win games like everybody else. Sometimes there are difficult decisions to be made that people don't like." Sturrock reiterated the importance of the fans to Plymouth Argyle Football Club. He said: "The important people to this football club are the fans. There has maybe been a criticism to this club that we have not given the opportunity to the fans to be appreciative of what is happening at the club and I am hoping that I have addressed that slightly today. There will be fans out there saying it is the same old thing and we have no ambition. We do have ambition. We are four points off the play-offs and there is no way we are giving up the opportunity to have a go. We have lost players but we have brought players in as well. I think people can already see that Chris Clark and Steve MacLean can do a job. I also think Yoann Folly will become an excellent player for us in the future. His conditioning has been poor and we are going to get him in the right shape. Jim Paterson will be an asset and I am very hopeful that in Gyorgy Sandor, we have got a foreign player who will adapt very quickly. We were third bottom in League Two when I came here first time, and fourth top in the Championship this time, and yet it is kind of similar. It is similar as far as restructuring of players, while still needing to win games. The standard has dramatically improved, so you have to buy different beasts to what you bought in the past. My job now is to make the changes now, tomorrow, next month and next year to enable this football club to progress."
Paul Sturrock has urged everyone to look to the future after the defeat at home to Hull City. He said: "This whole scenario is history. It is water under the bridge. We have to look to the future of Plymouth Argyle and not the past, and take that into games - that is players and the fan-base. We have to start somewhere and there has to be a progression. If we don't, and we live in the past, this will get worse instead of better. If we had won that game we would bouncing out here today, waxing lyrical about what had happened in the past was in the past, and that is exactly where it should be - in the past. The fan-base came today and probably had in their mind that this scenario would unfold, and I honestly believe that seeped onto the football pitch. There was wariness about the team today. There is a disappointment around the place with the fan-base, but how do you think players feel when they see their fellow-players moving on? Uncertainty creeps into certain people's psyche in difficult circumstances like this." Today's defeat came after a defensive mix-up allowed Dean Windass to snatch a goal for the visitors. Sturrock also felt Argyle suffered from unwillingness to shoot on the few occasions openings did arise. He said: "We looked disjointed today. It looked like the kind of game where one mistake was going to win it and, disappointingly, that mistake came from us. Timar missed the ball completely, which makes it a bit easier. Windass is a quality and a thoughtful player and he caused us concern all day. We didn't pull the trigger today. Rory Fallon had a chance and Steve MacLean twice, and our final cross was disappointing. Certain players had disappointing performances and there were lots of things that went wrong today. It is something that we are going to have to manage and the only place we can manage that is on the training ground. We will be working our tails off to put a rhythm to this team again. I think some decent players have come into the club and they have got to be given their chance to bed themselves in." One positive for Sturrock was another encouraging performance from Chris Clark, who he feels has similar attributes to David Norris. "I see likeness from Clark to a very young Norris," he said. "He came on the left and put in a couple of decent crosses. He is a different player on the right."
Argyle lost 1-0 to Hull City at Home Park. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Timar, Doumbe, Sawyer, Clark, Nalis, Summerfield, Halmosi, Fallon, MacLean. Subs – Abdou, Easter, Jutkiewicz (not used – Hodges, Mackie). Attendance - 11,011
Paul Sturrock is looking forward to a rematch with a Hull City side who pushed Argyle all the way in a 3-2 FA Cup win last month. He said: "It will be a very difficult game against Hull after a stiff win in the FA Cup and they had a few players not playing that day. We have got to be appreciative that we are going to have an even stiffer task than when we last played them." Marcel Seip is a doubt for the game, despite recovering the groin problem that kept him out of the trips to Portsmouth and Ipswich. Sturrock said: "Marcel Seip has been struggling with sickness and we will give him right up to kick-off to see how he is. There is one other one suffering with an injury after playing in midweek and we will be giving him every opportunity as well." Jamie Mackie is a possibility for the bench, although the arrival of seven other players in the transfer window has made competition for places fiercer than ever. Sturrock said: "Jamie has come along and, all of a sudden, we have got two or three other strikers. It is going to be a slow process, although that is not to say that he won't be on the bench. We have to see how he adapts and there is a fitting-in job for four or five of the players, and they need to adapt and blend in." Sturrock had good news regarding the fitness of Nick Chadwick, Paul Wotton, and new signing Gyorgy Sandor, and added: "Nick Chadwick is another one or two weeks away from being back in some semblance of training. We have also had a good report on Sandor's injury. He will now be stepping himself up and we are very hopeful he will be available in a couple of weeks. Paul Wotton came through the game against Elmore and we are very pleased. If you talk to Wottsy, he would play tomorrow. We have got a reserve game next week against Exeter and I am very hopeful he will play the full 90 minutes. He is obviously in a situation, like several of my players, where he is coming out of contract. We now have three months and it was very difficult to make an assessment over Christmas and New Year. It is now assessment time and I am looking for my pound of flesh as far as performance is concerned. Training, reserve games and first team games are all assessment to me. If somebody is playing in the team and doing very well, and somebody else is not playing, that does not mean that the boy who is not playing won't get a contract."
Jim Paterson will not make his debut for Argyle today as he is serving a one-match ban carried over from the SPL
Reuben Reid, whose registration has been retained by Argyle even though he has not been training with the club, has joined Brentford on what is termed a temporary loan
Cherno Samba left Argyle today after having his contract cancelled by mutual consent
Paul Sturrock has thanked David Norris for his services to the club. He said: "As the manager who brought the player to the football club and became a good friend of the player, it's a disappointing day. In the end, I judge him as my best player but football sometimes kicks you in the teeth. I wish him all the best in his career. As I think every fan should too. He was a catalyst to great things at this football club. A friend of mine puts him in the top three Plymouth players. I believed that too. We offered Norris way, way, way, way, way, over his wage to make him the highest paid player at the football club. I was prepared to go down that road and the board was prepared to go down that road for the simple reason that we wanted to keep David Norris here. But even with five ways, we were still off the boil of the wage structure that he was going to achieve elsewhere. So, when I say way, way, way, we're talking of an offer that was quite incredible. Despite losing Norris, Sturrock was pleased that the board has managed to negotiate a decent price. He added: "I said to the board after the decision, we got a Plymouth price and its nice to have a Plymouth price. And sometimes we've been held over a barrel and never achieved a Plymouth price. We haggled and haggled and held off and held off all comers until eventually we got to a price that no football club can refuse. So many things have happened at this football club and in the end, we have to be thankful for services rendered, for the taste he has left in our mouths and the money we have got. And hopefully we can spend it shrewdly and wisely. Sturrock was quick to stress that just because David Norris had moved on, Argyle would not be crumbling. He said: "Plymouth Argyle are still here. It didn't die over night - even the sun has come out for a change! Plymouth Argyle will be here long after Paul Sturrock. We've got be appreciative of that. When you heart beat is taken away, it gives an opportunity for other people to come to the for and I'm hoping that people will take that chance and people that come into the football club will become the Norris' of 6 years to come."
Paul Sturrock sees new signing Jim Paterson as a solid left-sided player and a very useful option in defence and midfield. He said: "I gave Jim his debut at Dundee United and he has been a wide left player for a lot of his career. He broke his leg twice. He broke his leg, came back and then broke his leg again, which knocked his career sideways. He was an Under 21 international with a long career ahead of him. When I left Dundee United, I felt he had lost his way a wee bit. He went to Motherwell and played on the left-wing, and then Maurice Malpas took over and reverted him to left-back. He loves getting forward from left-back. He has lost a stone-and-a-half and the jigsaw puzzle in his mind has come together now, and he looks a very rounded professional. He is coming here as a left-sided player. He is a very different type of player to Peter Halmosi. He is more of a solid type player, like Chris Clark."
Jim Paterson has revealed that the chance to work with Paul Sturrock was the main factor in his decision to move to Argyle. He said: "He actually gave me my first full debut against Rangers when I was 18. He's a really good manager, a good coach, I think really highly of him and am looking forward to the chance to work with him. I also know John Blackley and the chance to work with the two of them was the main reason I came down." Paterson also revealed that he had been approached by Sturrock several years ago. "He tried to bring me down to Plymouth in his first spell," he said, "but, at that time, I'd just had a daughter and she was only one and I was only 21 myself so I thought against it. I felt the time is right now and I jumped at the chance." Paterson is capable of playing in a range of different positions, and added: "I've got no granted position, I'm a bit versatile. In my Dundee United days it was left wing-back, or left-back, and sometimes left midfield. I played there for a year and a half at Motherwell but it's anywhere on the left side where I'm needed." Paterson also revealed that he was looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Championship. He said: "It's a great league. Don't get me wrong - Scottish football is a really high standard, but I think, down here, it's massive games week in week out at massive places and it's a chance to test yourself. Obviously I wanted to come down to England at some point, maybe at the end of this season, but because it was Luggy, I jumped at the chance." With plenty of competition for places in the defence, Paterson has no illusions of the task ahead of him. "The team is doing really well," he said. "I caught the highlights against Portsmouth and they played really well and were unlucky not to get anything, so I know I've come into a good team and I've got to work hard." It was not just Sturrock who recommended the move to Home Park. Paterson was also told of good times here by a few ex-Pilgrims. He said: "I spoke to a lot of people who have played here in the past - David Worrell and Keith Lasley - who let me know what a nice place it is and how good it is for my family, so I heard the gaffer was interested and my mind was made up, really." During his time in Scotland, Paterson was nicknamed 'Stepover' by fans and team-mates alike. "It started at Dundee, because apparently I've got a wee trick," he said. "Then the Motherwell fans got it one day and it just stuck. I did it at left-wing - I don't think I could go doing it at left-back!"
Steve MacLean has admitted he is playing football with a smile on his face again after his move to Argyle. He said: "I'm getting to know the boys now and they are a good bunch of lads. I'm playing under a manager who I like working for and I believe in his methods. I'm back enjoying my football again, although I have yet to see the winning side of us. I think my link-up play has been decent and, hopefully, I can start repaying them with some goals." MacLean has had a good goalscoring record in the past and wants to continue that for Argyle. He said: "Strikers are judged on goals, at the end of the day. It's not just about link-up. I want to get goals and, hopefully, the fans will see some of that soon." MacLean insisted that despite missing a penalty at Ipswich, it would not put him off taking them in the future. He added: "It's no secret that we didn't play that well the other night, but we could have nicked it if I had scored the penalty. That's football for you. I thought we probably deserved three points against Southampton and we only took one, so it's swings and roundabouts. It was just one of those things. When the next one comes along I will be stepping up to take it - hopefully, the boys will let me. Any penalty miss is a bad penalty, but I will try to put that behind me and get on with scoring some goals for Argyle." MacLean joined Argyle after they beat Hull at Home Park in the FA Cup third round, but he has played against them this season, when he started for Cardiff in a draw on December 1st. MacLean said: "We battered them that day but a couple of individual errors cost us. Hull are quite a strong, physical team and they will probably come here thinking they can turn us over. I'm sure it will be a tough game, like every other one in this league, but we have got to be confident and try to get the three points. I'm looking forward to it. I'm feeling fit and well so I can't wait."
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