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.
On This Day:
Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle beat Paul Sturrocks Southampton 3-1 in todays friendly at Home Park, the goals coming from Mickey Evans after 16 minutes, Graham Coughlan (35) and Steven Milne (52). Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Wotton, Gilbert, Norris, Friio, Hodges, Capaldi, Evans, Milne. Subs - Adams, Lowndes, Lasley, Crawford, Sturrock (not used - Larrieu, Keith, Doumbe). Attendance - 10,659. and Ian De-Lars match report is here
Stuart Yetton is set to train with Darlington next week with a view to a loan move
Bobby Williamson is insisting that the main purpose of this afternoon's match is the pursuit of fitness and not the establishment of a first-choice line-up. "Tomorrow we'll still be working on our fitness," he said yesterday. "We've got a hard start to the League season, with three games in seven days." However, after Wednedays tired second-half performance, training sessions have been less physically demanding and more skills and sharpness-oriented. "I'll take the blame for the second-half performance on Wednesday," Williamson said, "because I worked the players very, very stringently over the few days before the game. I've certainly not been doing that for the Southampton game. We've eased off a bit. It's OK working players that hard when they're facing so-called lesser opposition, against whom they can maybe ease up a bit, but not when they're facing top professional teams."
Following his transfer yesterday Ian Stonebridge said: "This is a very good move for me, and I am delighted to be here at Wycombe. It's been great playing the number of games that I've been able to for Argyle, although it's quite strange considering I'm not 23 until the end of August. But it's been fantastic for me and it's always something that will stand me in good stead in my career. I've had five great years with Plymouth. I think every player who has joined Argyle will tell you that it's the friendliest dressing-room there is. There are no arguments, there's no friction, and that's the reason why we had the success that we had because everyone wanted to do things for each other." Bobby Williamson said: "We had a look at the situation, and I've always been a manager that tells players when other clubs have shown an interest. Stoney has been kept abreast of things regarding a number of clubs. Wycombe was something that interested him. He feels he has more opportunity of making an impact in the first-team there than he would here. I don't blame him. Playing first-team football is what it's all about. That was his choice, and we wish him all the best. It's his career, and he's been a good servant to this club. He goes with our blessings. A small fee has changed hands, which will help us as well."
Ian Stonebridge has left Argyle to join Wycombe Wanderers. Argyle receive a nominal fee for Stoney, who has signed a three-year contract at Wycombe. Bobby Williamson paid tribute to Stonebridge. He said: "He has been a great servant to the club, and, of course, we wish him well. He saw that maybe his first-team opportunities were going to be limited this season, and has decided to move to benefit his career. I am sure he will be a great success for Wycombe."
Argyles youth team beat Cardiff City 2-1 in the Duchy College Under-18 Tournament and will now play Blackburn Rovers in the final, to be played at Home Park on Saturday at 5.15pm after the Southampton game. Chris Zebrowski and John Hoyles got the goals. Argyle: K Schofield, L Drew, R Dickson, L Summerfield, J Routledge, B Nute, D Rose, C Bond, C Zebrowski, J Hoyles, D Evans. Subs - M. Rowbotham (not used - D Berry, S Laird, C Reski, J Laird).
Luke McCormick is set to return from his knee injury tomorrow against Southampton but Paul Connolly could miss the game as he has been suffering from a virus and was sent home from training yesterday morning. Bobby Williamson said: "Paul Connolly was struggling with a virus. He felt sluggish throughout the 45 minutes, which was disappointing. I didn't realise he was feeling the effects of this virus. He came in yesterday morning and we sent him back home, so that certainly took its toll on him. You can see now why he never performed as well as he can do on Wednesday. He never got to the pace of the game at all. If Luke comes through today's session he will feature tomorrow."
David Worrell hopes Argyle can restore some pride when they take on Southampton tomorrow. He said: "We gave away some really sloppy goals and we were very disappointed with our performance. To be fair, the lads pride themselves on not conceding goals, and we conceded five, so there is a lot to work on. It's going to be another tough game against Southampton, but it will be a good test for us. The manager has stressed all along it's about Saturday week and the lads getting their match fitness up. But it would be nice to put in a half-decent performance tomorrow because the second half on Wednesday was an embarrassment really. The boys were very down after the game and we will be looking to do a lot better than that." Worrell was very impressed with Portsmouth strikers Yakubu and Lomana Tresor LuaLua: "Yakubu is a big, strong lad and he's going to hold things up, but he's quick as well," he said. "LuaLua is probably one of the quickest players I have played against. I can't imagine how quick Thierry Henry is when you see someone like LuaLua close up. But, as I said, we didn't defend properly either. I think we kept too high a line probably and you cannot do that against pace like that. Two quality Premiership strikers are going to punish you, and people like Berger and Berkovic are going to see a pass as well". Worrell admitted it would be strange to see Paul Sturrock and coach Kevin Summerfield in the Southampton dug-out tomorrow. He said: "The gaffer has been gone a few months now and the new manager has come in and he's his own man. You have got to move on. I don't know what sort of reception he will get but, hopefully, it will be a good one. He deserves it. But the new manager is here and he's stamping his authority on the club. Hopefully, we can come out of tomorrow with a creditable result, which will give us some confidence going into the game against Millwall."
Hasney Aljofree will enter hospital next week for keyhole knee surgery. No timescale has been put on his recovery period, but he could be sidelined until September. Bobby Williamson said: "Before we went to Austria he had a scan and there was a cartilage problem there. We felt he could get through it, and he wanted to go through it, but we have come back and he felt the effects of it on Tuesday so he will go in for an operation early next week. It's disappointing because we want to have everybody available for selection. We want people putting other players under pressure, that's how teams are successful. We have still got three central defenders there and we can jig it about. But it's a blow missing Hasney and it's a blow for him because his fitness is at a decent level and now it could set him back a bit. I never put times on these things, but I really don't think it will be too long. It's not a terribly bad injury and it can be repaired easily. We will see how he gets on after he has had the operation."
David Friio and Mickey Evans were not included in the Argyle squad for the defeat by Portsmouth at Home Park, but Bobby Williamson revealed they had been rested, and were not injured. The pair will be in the starting line-up for the visit of Southampton on Saturday. "I decided to leave them out last night and they will play more of a part on Saturday," said Williamson. "That goes for most of the boys who weren't stripped." Luke McCormick could also play against Southampton after battling back to fitness from the knee injury he suffered last week.
Bobby Williamson was full of admiration for Portsmouth strikers Lomana Tresor LuaLua and Yakubu Ayegbeni after last nights game. He said: "I was a striker, but never in the same league as these two guys. Their strength, their pace, their movement, their linkage and their finishing was fantastic. These are top players. I don't know how much they cost but I think between them there must be at least £5million of talent there. We have got to learn from that and, hopefully, we don't come up against too many strikers like them in the Coca-Cola Championship." Williamson thought his players had tired in the second period after an impressive display in the first half. "We have been working hard this week and now we can settle down and start giving the boys a proper break before games," he said. "It is pre-season and this is where we have got to get our fitness, and in the second half it caught up with them. But no excuses, Portsmouth are a quality side. You have seen that. The substitutions they made caused us problems and asked questions of our defence, and we didn't have the answers. It's a harsh lesson and maybe it's a bit hard on the players because they have been working so hard, and they were lost in the second half through fitness really, but that will come. It's good to watch a team like that perform, and it's good for our players to see what they have got to do to try to get to that level. If we can learn from it, all the better. It's never nice to concede goals the way we did, but you have got to give credit to them. They were very much on the ball in the second half and they put their chances away, and they still had a few in the bag to miss."
Argyle lost 5-1 to Portsmouth in tonights friendly, having lead through David Worrells 15th minute goal. Argyle: Larrieu, Worrell, Coughlan, Doumbe, Gilbert, Norris, Adams, Lasley, Capaldi, Keith, Crawford. Subs – Connolly, Hodges, Lowndes, Milne (not used - Wotton, Sturrock). Attendance - 6,964.
Argyle have renewed their shirt sponsorship deal Ginsters - a year earlier than expected. The sponsorship has been extended by three years, until the end of the 2006-7 season. Paul Stapleton said: "We are delighted that we are continuing our partnership with Ginsters. We have a lot in common: we are both quality Westcountry brands; we are both leaders in our respective fields; and we are both moving forward with confidence." Bobby Williamson said: "The support we have from Ginsters is vital to this football club. I think it is good for the club that we have the support of a company that is rooted in the local community and which shares the same aspirations for Plymouth Argyle that all their fans do."
Bobby Williamson has warned Argyle fans not to expect to see his first-choice side in tonight's friendly - or in Saturday's encounter with Southampton. "People shouldn't read too much into tomorrow's line-up," he said. "It's a training exercise for us. We're just using this game to get our fitness and get ourselves geared up for the Millwall game, nothing else. We've done a good training session this morning and we'll have another one this afternoon. These are things we wouldn't do prior to a game, especially against Premiership opposition. It's unfortunate we never got that game under our belts on Saturday, but that chance has gone away from us now." David Friio and Lee Makel seem sure to play against Portsmouth: "Those two players will be suspended for the first two League games," said Williamson, "but they still need match practice. They'll be involved in the next two friendlies." Williamson hopes that the side he does pick against Millwall will do well enough to make it hard for him to select Friio and Makel when their bans end. "If the team starts well against Millwall, then that will be my team," he added. "It's up to those guys to keep their shirts and make it difficult for the other two guys to get back in. That's the way it is. I've no favourites at this club. They're all squad members and they all have an equal chance of getting a start. I've got to try and get them all involved and get them all fit for the start of the season.. The players want to be involved in these big friendly matches. Some of them will be disappointed but, if they're not involved tomorrow, they will be involved on Saturday." Makel is fit again but Luke McCormick has not fully recovered from the knee strain that he suffered in training last week. "Lee will certainly get an opportunity tomorrow," Williamson confirmed. "Luke is still working with the physio. He's been out on the training park but he's not done anything strenuous yet. He'll not be involved tomorrow night and we'll see how he is for the game on Saturday."
Paul Wotton is looking forward to the test of playing against Portsmouth tonight. Bobby Williamson has not yet named the side but Wotton is hoping to feature at some point: "For me personally it will be a good test," he said. "Yakubu is a strong boy who scored a lot of goals for them last season. Lua Lua is also a very good player and it is exciting to be playing against these type of players. But they have some strong defenders as well. They have made some new signings and Harry Redknapp and Jim Smith did very well to keep them up last year. It is clearly the strongest opposition we have faced so far. They play in the Premiership, which is in my opinion the best in the world, and they have some top-class internationals playing for them. It will be a tough game, but one we are looking forward to."
Bobby Williamson admitted that both he and his players would be 'stepping into the unknown' in the games against Southampton and Portsmouth. He said: "I believe the players can play at this level. Whether they can do so on a consistent basis has yet to be proved. I am very confident I am good enough at this level. I have managed in the SPL and managed in Europe, and not many other managers in the division can say that." Williamson though, was tight-lipped about his hopes for the season. "We will not speak publicly about what we want to achieve," he said. "We have got to prove on the pitch that we are better than other teams."
Bobby Williamson is not worried about going into the league campaign with pre-season defeats and is treating the games purely as fitness work. "I am not worried about the defeats," he said. "If I was worried about the defeats, I would not have played against these teams. We could have played a non-league team and won, but what would we have learned from that? The players need to be tested against better teams. We are not kidding ourselves. This is a huge game against Premiership opposition. We don't see Premiership opposition at Home Park very often. Everybody wants to be in the Premiership and it will be a good gauge to see how high the standard is. It will be good to see the quality of players. But I'm not too bothered about what players Pompey bring on the park. If one of their guys did entertain me I would be disappointed!" Williamson said the 11 starting against Portsmouth will not be Argyle's first team against Millwall a week on Saturday. "A couple of players will be suspended for the Millwall game so the Portsmouth game will be a training experience for us," he said. "It is not about 11 players - I will try to keep them all involved. It will be good for the fans to see a Premiership team and we want to get as many through the turnstiles as possible."
Bobby Williamson hinted that he has already decided on his first-choice line-up for the start of the season. He said: "I have a very good idea about the Millwall game but every player still has a chance. Nothing is cast in stone in football. People can pick up injuries at any time." Williamson was happy with the progress in players' fitness during the tour, he said: "I am not reading anything into the games we lost, like I am not reading anything into the game we won. I said all along this tour was just about fitness. It's just these days there is more exposure of warm up games, with fans even paying to get in. We are just working hard towards the start of the season. Its good to see the lads getting to know each other so there are no problems on that front. There will be competition for places but that is good. I do not single out any individual player as this is a team game and they are all part of a squad." Williamson said his priority now was to enhance fitness levels further before the game against Millwall. "The players are getting stronger every day - and that's important - but their fitness has still some way to go," he said. "We don't want them fully fit now, we want them in top shape for the first game of the season."
Paul Stapleton is sure that the pre-season tour to Austria was a worthwhile exercise. "We didn't know last year what to expect with Austria, but when we came home we thought it had been successful," he said. "I suppose, by winning the championship, we can say that we had sewn the seeds of a very good season by what we did in Austria. The players who had been here last year wanted to do it again. And, from my point of view, it was good to see our five new players being away with their new team-mates and integrating well. I spoke to all of them on the trip and to Stevie Crawford in detail about what we're doing. He said that it was fantastic to have the chance to get away together, and what a great bunch of lads we have. Living, working, eating and socialising together doesn't work out sometimes, but it has worked very well for us." Stapleton savoured the chance to watch the players training, and said: "Steve Adams said to me on Saturday that it had been a week of hell. I think he said it tongue-in-cheek, but pre-season training is all about pushing yourselves to the limit. If Gerry wanted the players to run round the track, he'd do it with them. He's taken part in what they've been doing and he's gained their respect." Stapleton indicated that Argyle might have visited Obertraun for the last time. "It may be that we might look to do something different," he said. "Maybe go back to Scotland or go to another country. But we have plenty of time to think about that."
Argyle will not be put off future pre-season tours to Europe despite the problems encountered with pitches in Austria last week. Paul Stapleton will talk to the sports tours company who planned the Austrian trip, to put the club's views across. He admitted the state of the pitches were the only problem during an otherwise successful week. "I don't feel very happy about it," he said. "Tuesday more so than on Saturday, because that was a last minute thing. Nevertheless, we have got to have words with the tour people about this. We are a professional football team. You should not have to do this, but it may be that when we arrive in places like this in the future we check the pitches on the first day. Then if they are not up to our standard, at least they've got time to rearrange it. There are lessons to be learned from this. I think the key things about this tour were fitness and team bonding. You have always got to look economically at it and the benefit you get, and this is the first time we have come with Bobby. If he says to us 'it's a great exercise, I would like to go somewhere next year' then we would have a look at it."
Bobby Williamson put the safety of his players first when the last match of their tour was postponed on Saturday. "It's disappointing. We came a long way for the game and when I saw the state of the pitch in the first place I wasn't best pleased," he said. "But the deluge we have had has made the pitch unplayable and I'm not prepared to risk anybody in those conditions. I think they wanted to leave it a bit longer to see if they could get it played but our guys have been stripped and been changed and then been stripped again. It's not going to get any better and the puddles on the park are not going to clear up, and I don't think that pitch was playable before the rain came. It's disappointing because the fans have turned up and we are here. We wanted to play the game but we are not prepared to risk players in these conditions. The ball was never going to run properly on that park and there were a lot of bare patches before it started to rain. It wasn't just divots, there were holes." Williamson admitted the postponement had disrupted his plans for the start of the season: "We could have prepared for a fortnight today by playing these next two games with the team taking shape, but that has not been allowed to us, which is disappointing. We would have started looking to get partnerships all through the team. I may have still changed it about but it would have given me a better idea of what we are going to do for the first game against Millwall."
Tickets for Argyle's game at Brighton will go on sale to Green Members this Thursday, July 29th. 756 tickets are available, priced at £21 adults, £14 senior citizens and £13 under-16s. This price includes a travel voucher for the Park & Ride Scheme as there is no parking at the ground. Tickets will then be available to White Members on August 4th, Pilgrim members on August 6th and any remaining tickets will go on general sale from August 9th. 1,500 terrace and 500 seating tickets are available for the game at Cardiff on August 13th, priced at £20 adults and £17 concessions (under-16/over 60) seated, £18 and £14 standing. They will be on sale to Green members from July 27th, to White Members on August 2nd, Pilgrim members on August 4th and any remaining tickets go on general sale from August 6th
Argyle's youth team won 5-2 at Torpoint Athletic today. The goals were scored by Chris Zebrowski (2), Daniel Rose, Stuart Yetton and Mark Robotham.
Argyle's scheduled friendly against FC Blau Weiss Linz today was postponed due to heavy rain just before kick-off which left the pitch unplayable. Bobby Williamson said: "I was not happy with the surface before the rain. With the water lying on it now there is no way we can play. It can't be helped, it's one of those things. I will have to take a look at some of the players over the next two weeks to determine that starting line-up for the first game."
Luke McCormick could resume training by the end of next week. It had been feared McCormick would be sidelined for the start of the season but yesterday he was walking much more comfortably. McCormick could be fit for the visit of Southampton next Saturday. Bobby Williamson said: "We will see how he goes over the weekend and then if he's still feeling it we will get it sorted out in Plymouth. Hopefully, it's a good sign there is an improvement in the injury and we are keeping our fingers crossed it's not such a serious one."
Bobby Williamson was not dismayed after yesterdays defeat: "I was pleased with the performance in patches," he said. "We were up against a very good team. There are no mugs in Czech football. They knew when to step up the tempo. They got their goals at important times for them, but bad times for us. We never got started and found ourselves chasing the game. They were quite comfortable to leave us with the ball and fall back behind it. It's very, very difficult to break a team down when they settle like that. Then they went for it again and got their second goal from a hopeful punt up the park. We gave a good account of ourselves, we created good chances in the first half, and we should have scored. Unfortunately we haven't done that, but the most important thing is that 11 players have got 90 minutes under their belts. That will hold them in good stead." Last night's four unused substitutes plus the other fit seven members of the squad will start against Blau-Weiss Linz today. The extra match has been fitted in to the tour to give Argyle's squad more practice of playing full matches. "The players feel they get more benefit from playing 90 minutes rather than 45 or 60 minutes at a time," Williamson said. "They know what they need to do to get themselves to peak fitness, and I know that as well. We didn't want to take on four games at the start of the tour and then find ourselves picking up a few injuries." Steven Milne started the match on the right-side of midfield, but swapped over with Nathan Lowndes at half-time. Blair Sturrock also played the whole game out-of-position on the left-side of midfield as Williamson tried to ensure they all topped up their fitness levels. "They have got to try to impress me up front," said Williamson. "None of them are comfortable playing in the wide areas. But it's important they get the 90 minutes because you get your match fitness in the last five or 10 minutes, when you are pushing yourself. You could hear the skipper out there shouting 'dig deep' and 'keep pushing' and that's what they did."
Argyle lost 2-0 to SK Ceske Budejovice in todays friendly. After the match Bobby Williamson said: "We know the technical ability the Czech's have and they showed that tonight, when they could just up the pace of the attack. Plus the way they got behind the ball and made it difficult for us." Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Wotton, Coughlan, Gilbert, Milne, Lasley, Hodges, Sturrock, Evans, Lowndes. Subs - (not used - Adams, Stonebridge, Capaldi, Keith)
Argyle's youth team lost 3-2 to Barnstaple. The goalscorers for Argyle were Scott Laird and Ryan Dickson. Earlier this week Argyle lost 5-1 to Wycombe Wanderers youth team, at Barnstaple. Martin Watts scored Argyle's only goal
Argyle have added a fourth game to their Austrian tour schedule. Bobby Williamson wants another chance to see his players and so Argyle will play FC Blau Weiss Linz at Wels, south east of Linz, on Saturday at 5.30pm. FC Blau Weiss Linz have also argeed to loan Argyle a goalkeeper for the game, after the injury to Luke McCormick as the club do not want to play Romain Larrieu twice in two days.
Luke McCormick received more positive news about his injury this morning. The swelling on his knee had gone down somewhat, and he was in a lot less pain and off crutches. Ian Leigh was delighted: "I am very pleased, things look a lot brighter today. It is positive news. We could have been looking at six weeks recovery but I am far more confident of a shorter time now."
Steven Milne and Blair Sturrock are set to start for Argyle in tonights game but both will play wide midfield roles, and not in attack, Bobby Williamson believes it is important Milne and Sturrock get more match practice. He said: "I have been alternating the defenders and getting them to work in partnerships because there are four of them. At the moment we have got seven strikers and it's difficult to give them all the time on the park they need to get their general fitness, to be perfectly honest. We are trying to give them as much time on the park as possible and that will continue tonight."
Lee Makel will not play again today due to his ankle injury. Yesterday he did a few laps of the athletics track but did not take part in the training sessions. "There is improvement," Bobby Williamson said. "Hopefully he'll be available next week."
Argyle are due to play SK Ceske Budejovice at Bad Goisern at 6 o-clock Austrian time on Friday - but the game is likely to be moved to a larger venue but it is still to be determined which one. As soon as the venue is known it will be displayed on Argyle's official site
Luke McCormick has injured his knee in training. The extent of the injury is not yet known but he will be ruled out of the game against SK Ceske Budejovice and probably the Portsmouth game next Wednesday. Argyle hope to have goalkeeping cover tomorrow with the help of their opponents who seem favourable to allowing the Greens to use one of their keepers
After four and a half days' of hard work Argyle's players had an afternoon off yesterday. In the morning the regulation two hours of work on the training ground were completed and then, after lunch, the players were given three options: rest, play a round of golf or take a trip by cable car up to the summit of Krippenstein, the Alpine peak above the training camp, followed by a tour of Dachstein ice caves, deep inside the mountain. Stevie Crawford, Steve Adams, Lee Hodges, Keith Lasley and Blair Sturrock were among the golfers, whilst Marino Keith, Ian Stonebridge, Lee Makel (who is recovering well from his ankle injury), Nathan Lowndes and David Worrell chose the jaunt up the mountain, joining Paul Stapleton, Bobby Williamson, Gerry McCabe, Ian Leigh and most of the fans who have travelled here with the official club trip
Bobby Williamson admitted fatigue had been a factor in Argyle's defeat on Tuesday night. He said: "I thought we competed better in the second half and we didn't show them as much respect. The players all felt better as the game went on and that shows it probably was down to the training this morning, but we have got to do this. This is why we are here. We have got to get the sessions in and we have got to try to get guys on the park. Mickey got another hour on Tuesday and so did Crawford as well, so we are getting these guys' fitness levels up." Stevie Crawford said: "German sides are always well organised and we probably didn't play to the standard the manager is wanting us to in the first half. We were sloppy, we didn't hold up the ball up front very well and we got punished at the back, but there were some quality finishes as well. Having said that, it was a tight, narrow park and it maybe didn't suit the style of play we are looking to do. The boys finished strong, which was a plus point, and there were a couple of dodgy decisions that went against us, when on another day they might have gone for us. Hasney put in a great free-kick to make it 3-2 when the referee never had his arm up for it to be indirect. It's still early days. As long as we are match-fit for Millwall that's the main thing, but it's never nice losing games."
Steven Milne is undaunted by the prospect of fighting for his place this season. "There are a lot of strikers here but I think you are going to have competition wherever you go," he said. "It's good for the club and it probably makes you try that bit harder. But I'm going to be right behind whoever plays. I'm not going to be thinking 'I'm not playing so I don't want them to score.' The team always comes first. I'm sure the manager will pick who deserves to be in the team." Stevie Crawford also arrived at Home Park this summer and Milne rates him very highly. "I have played against Stevie a good times up in Scotland and he's a good striker," he said. "I'm looking forward to training with him and playing with him. I'm sure we could do well if we play together and, also, he will do well for the team." Milne has been striving to impress during pre-season. "I have enjoyed it a lot," he said. "It has been good to spend time with all the boys because I don't know them that well. It has been a good experience to be out here. There are good facilities and it's a nice place all round. It has been hard training but it's pre-season and we have still got to get some fitness. We have double sessions most days and three games to play, so it's all going to be for our own good. The first game I played I didn't feel sharp at all but you just gradually get more and more into it. I have scored four goals, but these kind of games are for sharpness and match fitness. That's the main thing. The team is just getting to know each other. There are a lot of new signings and we need to know how each other plays." Milne is convinced Argyle can more than hold their own this season. "There are a lot of good teams and a lot of good grounds we are going to be visiting," said Milne. "I'm not too sure of the standard because I have been in Scotland all my career. Some of the other boys will know more about that. I think we should be aiming as high up as possible. I'm sure we can do that. Me personally, I'm not thinking of relegation. I'm thinking more along the lines of getting into mid-table if we can. There are a lot of strong squads but we have strengthened ours and we are looking quite good. I'm confident about the season ahead. It's the first time the club have been in this division for a long while. People will see the name Plymouth and think 'they were in the Third Division a few years ago' They might under-estimate us, which is good for us I suppose. We will take any advantage we can and do as well as we can."
Argyles annual Open Day will take place on August 1st. Starting at noon, and running for four hours, the Open Day will also see the launch of the club's exclusive official diary of last season's title-winning success, You Can't Buy Days Like This, as well an action-packed glossy magazine, 90 Out of 100, which is a unique photographic record of the campaign. The players will take part in a light training session from 12.15pm and will then be available to sign autographs from about 1pm. There will also be many other attractions
Tickets for Argyle's game at Cardiff on August 13th will go on sale next week. Green Members will be able to buy their tickets from 9am on July 27th; White Members from August 2nd and Pilgrim Members from August 4th. Any remaining tickets will then go on sale to non-members from August 6th. 1,500 terrace and 500 seating tickets are available, priced at £20 adults and £17 concessions (under 16 and over 60) seated, £18 and £14 standing
Argyle are sending three teams to play at Torpoint Athletic's Community Football Funday on Saturday. The under-17s, a Select XI and a Veterans' side will all be in action at the Mill. Admission for all three games is £4 for adults (£2 concessions) and the programme of events is: 10.15am-1pm: Adult and child Soccer Skills Challenge, 2pm: Torpoint II v Argyle Under-17s, 4pm: Torpoint v Argyle Select XI, 6pm: Torpoint Veterans V Argyle Veterans
Bobby Williamson was not in good humour after last nights defeat: "I thought the referee was shocking," Williamson said. "If I could report him, I would. I know it's only a friendly match, but it's disappointing when the boys are three-nothing down and they've given everything they've got in the second half to get back into it. They got back into it, Friio's got a good goal, and then the referee disallows a direct free-kick. The referee never had his hand up to signal that it was indirect. Hasney puts it in the back of the net and then he says it was indirect. I don't see why it was indirect in the first place - it was a foul outside the box. Then Savo was running right through the middle and the referee pulls it back for a free-kick for us. That was disappointing too." Williamson was also unhappy with the state of the pitch at Eben. "It wasn't good enough for professional football," he said. "It was only about eight yards from corner flag to penalty box. On pitches like this, players are going to get close to each other and it can get a bit rough at times. If the park is bigger, it's harder for players to get to each other and it opens out a bit more." Williamson was not seeking to blame the referee or the pitch for the defeat, however. "No excuses," he said. "Wacker are a good team and they took their goals well. The players felt they'd let themselves down a bit, though. Defensively we were poor. You learn more about your players when we get a game like this. We have learned a lot of lessons tonight and, hopefully, the players will take that on board as well. I felt we competed better in the second half and didn't show them as much respect as we did in the first half."
Argyle lose 3-1 to SV Wacker Burghausen, David Friio scoring Argyle's only goal. Both Hasney Aljofree and Steven Milne have goals disallowed. Argyle: McCormick, Worrell, Aljofree, Doumbe, Gilbert, Friio, Norris, Adams, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Lasley, Keith, Milne, Connolly (not used - Larrieu, Hodges, Lowndes, Stonebridge)
Lee Makel has been ruled out of Argyle's game tonight but Bobby Williamson is hopeful he could be fit for the final match of the tour. Williamson said: "He's coming along but tonight is too soon for him. Hopefully, he will be able to feature in the last game. It's frustrating for him, especially as it's pre-season and he will miss a lot of the hard work. Players hate it, but they know it's necessary. They pull each other through it and that's important. It's great for team bonding and gets the spirit going. It's difficult for injured players, especially if it's just the one guy. I think there were a couple of them working the other day but now he's on his own. He has been doing a lot of cycling and he has been in and out of that river, which is doing his head in, I would imagine." Nathan Lowndes has resumed training and could play at some stage tonight. "I haven't spoken to the Ian Leigh but Nathan has been running about and taking part so I presume he's fit enough for selection," said Williamson
Bobby Williamson is aware that tonights opponents will provide Argyle with their toughest test of the pre-season so far. He said: "The games coming up are going to be a wee bit harder for us and it will be interesting to see how our fitness is shaping up, but it's looking good just now. We want to be tested. There is no point us playing against so-called easier opposition and running away with it. We want to see where our frailties are and we want to be able to work on them. That's the aim, and I'm sure we will be getting tested in the next few weeks."
Paul Connolly is determined history will not repeat itself tonight having been sent off against Wacker Burghausen a year ago. "I keep getting reminded about it by the boys all the time," he said "It was a bad time, plus Paul Sturrock just laid into me in the changing room afterwards and made me feel the size of a pea. I had a nightmare in the other two games as well because my confidence was completely gone. If you look at the pre-season I had, I think I did well to bounce back after that. It has made me a better person and I'm more experienced now. There's no chance I will be diving in tonight and getting a red card again. Hopefully, I have learned from that. I know it was stupid of me to get sent off the last time we played them, but I remember they were very niggly. It was a sort of Germany against England type of thing and I got sucked into that. I would like to have a good, solid performance tonight and come through the 90 minutes injury-free and get another game under my belt." Connolly's impressive displays last season saw him rewarded with a new three-year contract, along with Luke McCormick. "It's nice to have our futures secured for a few years but I can guarantee we will not be sitting back now," he said. "We will both be working hard. There are a lot of players up and down the country who would think 'I'm happy now' but there is no chance of me and Luke doing that. We have got some great games this season and there is no worse place than sitting on the sidelines watching." Connolly is enjoying his second visit to Obertraun, even though the players have been worked very hard. He said: "It's great to be back out in Austria again. It's class. You have only got to look around you. It's unbelievable. It's a very nice place. The games are good, the weather is good and the food is good. I can't speak too highly about it."
Paul Stapleton has no doubt that the cost of sending the Argyle squad on their pre-season tour is money well spent. "The facilities here are first-class," he said. "This place is tried and tested by both Bobby and his predecessor Paul Sturrock. It's got great scenery and good air and it's so important that the players come to a training camp like this. They're working, eating and living together. I never really realised the benefit of that when I was on the board under Dan McCauley, when Kevin Hodges was manager. Money stopped us going anywhere and we didn't go on any tours in that period. We just accepted it and got on with training, but having seen how the squad integrated over here last year and this year it's made me realise the importance of coming away. It gets the players out of their normal routine and, as we proved last year, it's successful. Let's hope it's as successful this year." Stapleton was keen to thank the fans for the part they have played in helping to acquire Argyle's new players: "We set a preliminary budget for this season soon after Bobby arrived as manager," Stapleton said. "We had to try and think ahead for the new season in a higher division. Then, as the season-ticket income mounted up, we were able to look at the budget again. We've had the benefit of such a great number of memberships and we've been able to increase the manager's wage budget. We haven't gone mad. That's not our style, but we did increase it and Bobby has brought all these players in within that revised budget. There's still a bit of leeway there, as well, because you never know what you might need during a season. Bobby has done well, he has signed five players on free transfers, all players that he knew from the Scottish Premier League. They already look like they're going to fit in well. We had a good squad already and we've added to it with five quality players and done so within the budget. We're well pleased with that. Getting Stevie Crawford, a current Scottish international striker, to come down to Plymouth really says a lot for how far we've come. Not so long ago, when we were a mid-table Third Division side playing Exeter and Torquay, if we as a board had told the fans that we were going to sign a Scotland striker they'd have thought we were from Mars or somewhere. But that's what has happened to this football club - and there's no reason why we shouldn't progress further. I just hope the fans stay with us and bear with us, though, if there are some dodgy periods. I'm not saying there will be, but there are going to be some battles at Home Park this season, and there will probably be some battles where we give our all but don't quite manage to do it. If that happens, we want the fans to say: 'They did their best, great game, I'll be back next week'. That way we'll get somewhere."
Nathan Lowndes resumed training on Monday but was not allowed to head the ball - no doubt ruling him out for the Wacker game. Lee Makel is still struggling with the ankle injury that saw him replaced in Saturday's victory and has not resumed training. An ultrasound on the ankle has directed his recovery actions. Graham Coughlan is another player who had to miss training on Monday morning with shin trouble and could miss selection.
Stuart Yetton hit a hat-trick and Chris Zebrowski the fourth as Argyle's youth team beat Liskeard Athletic 4-0 in a friendly at Lux Park. Stuart Gibson said: "We must now go back to the training ground and work on the weaknesses and continue to work on the good points."
Despite playing on Saturday Argyle's squad faced a gruelling training session on Sunday morning, David Friio admitting: "I have never felt this exhausted - I have also never worked so hard after playing a match the day before." Paul Wotton though, led by example: "I love this, bring it on again tommorrow," said the Captain
Keith Lasley enjoyed Argyle's first tour game yesterday. "It's all about fitness at this stage of the year and I think most of the boys got a good work-out on Saturday," he said. "That's the main thing. We are still aiming for that first league game against Millwall. Pitches in pre-season are normally quite sticky, but that one wasn't. It was slick on the top and you could move the ball around well, and that definitely helps us because we like to get the ball down and pass it. It was really warm in the first half and I was sweating quite a lot. I just tried to take as much water on board as I could. Fortunately, it cooled down a wee bit after half-time and the boys felt better." Lasley is making his first visit to Obertraun and has been very impressed. He said: "The facilities are excellent and what a beautiful place as well. The scenery is breath-taking. I'm looking forward to the rest of the trip and the games we have got coming up." Lasley admitted pre-season had, so far, been very physically demanding. "It has been hard, but that's pre-season," he said. "You need to get it in the bank and it sets you up for the season well. Touch wood, I have had no injuries and I'm just looking forward to the season. I was told before I came down they were a good bunch of boys here, and I'm starting to settle in really well. I'm looking forward to moving into the area and getting myself really settled, but so far it has been excellent. The boys have been first class." Lasley started on the right-side of midfield against Bad Aussee but later played a central role. He also had a run-out on the left-side of midfield against St Blazey. Lasley said: "At the end of the day, it's about getting games and getting as many minutes as you can under your belt. I'm happy to play anywhere. I will play where the manager wants me to play. It's down to him."
Bobby Williamson was pleased with the efforts of his players yesterday - but not so happy with the way in which Nathan Lowndes sustained a head injury. "The lads showed a good attitude and there was good tempo to the game," he said. "That augurs well. It's another 90 minutes. Quite a few of the lads got 90 minutes under their belt. Quite a few of them got 45. We'll be working them very hard tomorrow again and push them to the limit. Some of them that played today will miss out in Tuesday's game, so they'll be given two sessions tomorrow." Williamson was displeased at how Nathan Lowndes was injured. "Nathan took a knock to the back of the head," he explained. "It was a ridiculous challenge. The lad made no attempt to get to the ball. It could have been a lot worse. The other disappointing factor was there wasn't a doctor on hand, although the hospital is close by. But I still think there should be a doctor at every game and that wasn't the case. Nathan has had a couple of stitches in the back of his head, which will give him a bit of discomfort. He's going to be laying on his face as usual!" Williamson was more concerned about Lee Makel, who limped off with an ankle injury. He said: "Lee Makel has got a bit of bruising and we will see how he is over the next couple of days. He indicated he couldn't go through the pain barrier so we took him off. "We aren't going to push guys through the pain barrier in these types of games and they can suffer longer term damage." Peter Gilbert made an earlier-than-expected return from a leg injury and Bobby Williamson said: "It was good to see Gilly getting a run-out at last. I'm pleased about that. He trained this morning and then we thought we would give him some running in the afternoon. He did a few 100-yarders - 15, I would think - and we thought 'well, we will push him again later on this evening and see how he comes through it.' Hopefully he's okay." Williamson tried out a 4-3-3 formation for the last half-an-hour, with Stonebridge, Milne and Sturrock up front and Friio, Hodges and Lasley in midfield. "We changed the shape of the team to accommodate our strikers and we left three in the middle of the park, which made it harder for those guys," he said. "But they showed a good attitude and good temperament for the game. That will augur well for them, and us. I wouldn't have any hesitation if I felt it was the best formation for us to get a result. It's just giving them our ideas of how we want them to play. Keith Lasley came in and played central and Hodgie played to the right, where he can open up and play diagonal balls with his left foot, which he's very good at. We want to get Friio a wee bit further forward, between their midfield and the defence, so he can link up and create, as he did with Keith Lasley's goal." David Worrell started the match at left-back before returning to his more usual right-back role when Gilbert came on. Williamson said: "David can play either full-back position. We will maybe try Paul Connolly at left-back as well and see how he adapts to that."
Argyle beat Bad Aussee 4-0 in their first tour match, the goals coming from a Marino Keith double, Steven Milne and Keith Lasley. Argyle: Larrieu, Connolly, Coughlan, Wotton, Worrell, Makel, Adams, Lasley, Hodges, Lowndes, Keith. Subs - Stonebridge, Friio, Sturrock, Gilbert, Milne (not used - McCormick, Aljofree)
David Friio believes the tour to Austria will be invaluable for building team spirit among the players. "Most of the players have been here for a long time now," said Friio. "It's the first time we have brought in five new signings. That's a bit unusual for us in the last few years, but they are doing well. All of them are good lads. I think they were a bit surprised by the team spirit down here and I think they are enjoying it. They are like us. They are training hard and we can see on the pitch they are doing really well. We had a good squad last season but we needed more quality for the First Division." The arrival of Mathias Doumbe means there are now three Frenchmen at Home Park. "It's good to speak French with him, but he speaks good English as well so it's not a problem for the lads," said Friio. "Whatever the nationality, it's on the pitch that you show what you can do. I think he's one of the quickest centre-backs I have even seen. During pre-season he was in the top three in the running, which is unusual for a defender, but that's good. He's a really fit lad." Friio is pleased to be back at Obertraun: "The training facilities are great, the food is good and we sleep well," he said. "It's quite far away from anywhere else so we have to stay all together, and that's good for the team spirit. When you go on tour it's a chance to gel together, and it was perfect last year. We have trained really hard in the past two weeks. Now we are going to get match fitness. It's going to be a rotation because we have got a big squad and at the end of pre-season everybody will have played their part."
Bobby Williamson has admitted he is now closely monitoring each of his players. He said: "That has happened from day one actually. There was just a bit of kidology going on there. Every time a player crosses the white lines they are being judged. I haven't come down hard on anybody yet, but as we get closer to the starting day I will be emphasising the fact that I think they could do better, or they are doing well. Some have already impressed me, and others can do more. The players have got to keep working towards their peak fitness and on their performance levels to be in the line-up for the start of the season."
Argyle arrived in Austria last night with Bobby Williamson keen to emphasise the all-round benefits of spending nine days abroad together. "Fitness, more than anything, is the target, and bonding," he said. "Getting the guys together on a daily basis is what matters. When they're away together, they're in each others' faces morning, noon and night. I think it's important for players to get to know each other and for me to get to know them better, and for us to try to concentrate on working on what we're trying to put into place for the start of the season. Pre-season is a long time - a month without any meaningful games, just working hard on a daily basis. So taking the players away from their home environment to another environment which is very nice and with good facilities is refreshing. When they go back they'll face a couple of high-profile games before they start the season. Hopefully this trip will help them."
Bobby Williamson intends to rotate his squad as much as possible during the build-up to the League campaign, which means that few of those that started against Torquay United will be on the pitch at kick-off tonight. "It was difficult for the players who came on in the second half against Torquay to get into the game," he said, "so they'll start at Bad Aussee. That's the way we'll try and alternate it throughout the pre-season matches." Neither Peter Gilbert nor Steven Milne took a full part in training last night due to minor injuries, and they may play no part tonight
Lee Makel will be suspended for the first two games of the season. Makel was booked 11 times for Livingston last season term. Bobby Williamson, who had been unaware of the suspension, said: "I've just found out that Lee is suspended for the first two games of the season, so I've been told. He's gone over the threshold in Scotland which carries on down here. He never mentioned that when we were having signing talks! He may find it difficult to get back into the team, hopefully, if we get a good start. I rate Lee very highly, otherwise I wouldn't have brought him to this club. It will make my selections easier, but I just don't hope we don't get caught with any injuries now. But if the other guys can stay fit, they'll now have a head start." David Friio is also suspended from the first two games and will be missed, according to Bobby Williamson: "I was impressed with Friio's first-half performance against Torquay," Williamson added. "I thought him and Lasley combined well at times and posed problems for Torquay."
Peter Gilbert is fit enough to join the tour to Austria. "Peter will be joining us," said Bobby Williamson. "He had a fitness test yesterday and he came through it. He had another session today. Saturday may be too soon for him, but he'll have plenty of time over there to catch up on his fitness. Hopefully, he will be featuring in the last two games - if not the last one - and then the two games when we come back from Austria." Argyle tour squad: McCormick, Larrieu, Connolly, Worrell, Wotton, Coughlan, Doumbe, Aljofree, Gilbert, Hodges, Norris, Capaldi, Friio, Lasley, Adams, Makel, Evans, Crawford, Lowndes, Stonebridge, Keith, Milne, Sturrock.
Argyle centre of excellence defender Ryan Moon has been called up into the Wales under-16 squad. John James believes Moon more than merits his inclusion. "He's a big, strong centre-half," said James. "He has got great feet and a good attitude. He eats, drinks and sleeps football and he's a very dedicated lad. We think a lot of him and we are very pleased for him."
Bobby Williamson insists he is only concerned about his own players, and not the teams they would be facing in Austria. "I don't know anything about them and I'm not particularly interested in them either," he said. "I'm totally focussed on our guys; watching them and seeing them develop and how their fitness is." Williamson has been to Obertraun once before, when he was the manager of Kilmarnock, and admitted the facilities were superb. "I'm looking for fitness more than anything, and getting the guys together on a daily basis," he said. "I know they are together on a daily basis here, but when they are away together they are in each other's faces morning, noon and night. I think it's important for players to get to know each other, and for me to get to know them better. We can concentrate on working on what we are trying to put into place for the start of the season. The facilities are tremendous, and it's a lovely place, which is a bonus. As long as the facilities are good enough, that's the most important thing, but the surroundings are beautiful. It will be great for the fans who are going out there. I think they will enjoy their time." The majority of the Argyle squad went to Obertraun last summer: "They know what to expect, but the training will be a bit different from what they are used to," said Williamson. "The last two weeks we have been working solely on what they have done in previous years, but that will get thrown out of the window in Austria. My ideas will be starting to come into the fore and, hopefully, it will be an enjoyable experience for them. You always want to win matches but, as I have said, it's about getting fitness up to a level that will sustain throughout the season. We have got to make sure everybody is up to that peak fitness." Williamson will encourage his players to make the most of the facilities at Obertraun: "It doesn't matter how hard you work football players, they will still want a game of tennis or something else, which adds to their stamina," he said. "They are more than welcome - if they are fit enough - to go and use the other amenities on hand."
Stevie Crawford has thanked his team-mates for the warm welcome he has received at Argyle. "The chairman and the manager told me they were a great bunch of lads, and they are," he said. "It will take a little bit of time to get to know one another on a personal level, but that will not be a problem. They have given helping hands already, whether it's where to move to or anything they can do for us. On the football side of things, we haven't shaped up on the training ground yet so that will take a few more sessions, and games as well, to pick up bits and pieces, like where boys are wanting you to run or what movement they are wanting you to do. But we have got a lot of games to play between now and the start of the season and things like that don't just come overnight." Crawford has been impressed with the way the players all pull together: "There's nobody wanting to be bigger than the club," he said. "They all work for each other, and I think that has contributed to their success. I'm no different. It's circumstances that we like working in north of the border. It's great to see nobody escapes any dressing room banter and there's nobody too big to take it as well. The signs are good that when the going gets tough, which it will at some point next season, the boys will all be pulling for each other. It definitely helps when there is a team atmosphere like that." Crawford admitted the start of pre-season training had been very physically demanding. "To be fair, we have had the ball out most mornings, but all the hard work has been done in the afternoon sessions," he said. "I think it showed on Saturday, with the two or three chances I had myself in the second half, where you would normally be a bit sharper. It's early days in pre-season yet, and the sharpness will come. The main thing is getting match-fit for the Millwall game, and not to peak too early. Millwall are the only team I have played for down here so to play them the first game of the season will mean just that little bit more to me. It will be a hard game. They've have made a few good signings and they have got a good player and manager in Dennis Wise. But we have got a lot of hard work to do between now and then to make sure we are all ready come August 7."
Steven Milne and Ian Stonebridge did not take part in last nights game due to sore hamstrings. Bobby Williamson said: "We had a training session in the morning and afterwards they did say they had tightness in their hamstrings, and there was no way we were going to take any chances with them."
Argyle beat Torquay United 2-1 in tonights friendly at Home Park, the goals coming from David Norris after 17 minutes and David Friio (31). A crowd of 4,119 turned up to support Dave Smiths testimonial. Argyle: McCormick, Connolly, Doumbe, Coughlan, Worrell, Norris, Friio, Lasley, Capaldi, Evans, Crawford. Subs - Larrieu, Wotton, Aljofree, Dickson, Adams, Hodges, Makel, Sturrock, Keith, Lowndes. Following the game Bobby Williamson said: "It was a good occasion for Dave Smith and I hope he has raised a few bob. It's all about fitness at this time of year and making sure you come through games unscathed. There will be a few tired legs but I don't think we have picked up any injuries, and I hope Torquay haven't either. There was a lot of nice football played and defensively we looked reasonably strong. I think Torquay had one shot across the face of the goal in the first half, but apart from that there wasn't a lot to trouble Luke McCormick. In the second half, both teams made that many substitutions there were always going to be openings. They exploited that on occasions and, unfortunately, we conceded a goal, but it's not terribly important at this time. The emphasis is on fitness."
Bobby Williamson has welcomed the change to FIFA's substitutions rule. He said: "Before, I would have only been to pick 17 players but now I can use as many as I want, which is much better. These games are for players' fitness and gearing up for the season."
Bobby Williamson has urged Argyle fans not to draw any conclusions from his team selection for the friendly against Torquay United. "I don't think they should read anything into any of the pre-season games about what the team's going to be," he said, "and neither should players. We're going to have to lose six players for every game in these pre-season matches and we'll rotate it that way: six will miss out tomorrow night but they will play on Saturday, six will miss out on Saturday, but they will play on Tuesday. That's the way it's got to be. It's dictated to us by UEFA. People will though. Whoever gets picked tomorrow night, people will say 'That's the first-choice goalkeeper'. I can assure everybody that's not the case at the moment. I'll just pick one. Maybe I'll toss a coin, I don't know. I will only be playing one goalkeeper. I would have liked to have had another goalkeeper on the bench to give them 45 minutes each, but that's not going to be the case. The goalkeepers will alternate in these friendly matches until we have to make a decision who gets the starting slot." Williamson and Leroy Rosenior have come up with an arrangement which will ensure that both clubs can give the maximum number of players a significant run-out: if, after using six substitutes, either side suffers an injury which necessitates the player leaving the field, the opposition will reduce their number accordingly. Williamson said: "It's an exercise to get as many players as possible playing. Unfortunately, we are going to have to leave six players out of the squad, which is not ideal. I'd like to get three on after 45 minutes and another three on after an hour. I did want to get six on at half-time, but we've got to keep some back in reserve just in case we do pick up an injury early in the second half. We'll take a chance, and if a Torquay boy gets injured after all the substitutes have been used, we'll take one off and keep it a level playing field, and vice-versa. These games are for players' fitness and gearing up for the season. Fans will come along and judge people and expect us to win, but that's not why we're doing it. Obviously we want to keep winning games but you learn from your team if you suffer a defeat, and if you can suffer your defeats in pre-season and learn from them, hopefully, you'll take that into the season." Williamson is relishing the local derby: "I look forward to every game, whether it's a friendly, a league game, or a cup match," he said. "I enjoy being part of it. I'm honoured and privileged to be manager of this club and I'm looking forward to it. There are a few players at Torquay who have played here and will want to show their old fans how good they are. Our guys are going to do their best to get their fitness levels up."
Peter Gilbert may now not be fit in time for the pre-season visit to Austria. He has not trained at full tilt, nor played in any of the friendlies, since picking up a leg strain, and Bobby Williamson will not take him abroad if he cannot participate in any of the tour's games. "We'll have to monitor his fitness during the course of the week," said Williamson, "and, if I don't feel he's ready to play matches, he won't be going to Austria. It is concerning. I don't want to be silly with him. We want him to take his time and to nurture his way through it, but it is a concern that he's not doing what everybody else is doing. It places the chances of him starting the season in jeopardy. He's been working, but he's not been working flat out. Until he's flat out with us, I can't gauge his fitness to see whether he travels to Austria."
Argyle are not however, short of cover at left-back. Tony Capaldi has played there for Northern Ireland and Hasney Aljofree, Lee Hodges and David Worrell have also played there in the past. Williamson got his first glimpse of Capaldi at left-back at St Blazey. He said: "I thought he did reasonably well and I wouldn't have any hesitation in using him there. Davie Worrell and Hodges can play at left-back, and so can Aljofree as well. He has played there plenty of times in his career."
Lee Makel is excited by the prospect of playing his first home game for Argyle tomorrow, as well as looking forward to the Austrian tour. "It's always nice to play abroad, against teams from other countries, so I'm looking forward to that. But I'm looking forward to the Torquay game as well. Hopefully, it will be my home debut and I will have a good start for Plymouth, because I want to do really well for the club. I think all the boys are looking forward to playing in front of their own fans and just getting a touch of the ball and seeing how things go." Makel believes all of Argyle's new recruits have the ability to be a success this season. "First and foremost, they are all very good players" said Makel. "Stevie scores goals for fun and Keith is a good midfield player who likes to link up with attack. Mattie is a really good defender and Stevie Milne is a young lad who can score goals as well. I'm sure the gaffer has done his homework on them and I think, in time, they will be good players for Plymouth." Makel has also been impressed by the players who were already at Home Park: "Obviously, they must have done really well to get two promotions in three seasons," he said. "They are a good bunch of lads and from what I have seen in training they have got good ability as well. It's going to be hard for us this season, we all know that, but we are all looking forward to it."
Matthias Doumbe has thanked the Argyle squad for making him feel so welcome at Home Park. "I felt OK with my team-mates out there," he said. "They are a really nice bunch of lads and have made it easy for me to fit in. I have found a place to live and I'm moving in this week. Ask me in one month how I'm settling in!"
Argyle are hosting a four-team under-18 tournament later this month involving Blackburn Rovers, Crystal Palace and Cardiff City. The first two games will be on July 29th, both with 7pm kick-offs. Argyle will play Cardiff at Blaise Park, St Blazey, while Blackburn take on Palace at Kimberley Stadium, Saltash. The two losing sides will meet each other at Lux Park, Liskeard, on July 31st at 11am. The winners will play at Home Park later in the day at 5.15pm, after Argyle's pre-season friendly against Southampton
Argyle's scholarship players for 2004/05 are: Clay Bond, Ryan Dickson, Liam Drew, Dean Evans, John Hoyles, Scott Laird, Brinton Nute, Chris Reski, Daniel Rose, John Routledge, Mark Robotham, Kenny Schofield, Luke Summerfield and Chris Zebrowski
Bobby Williamson, John Blackley and Gerry McCabe were all at Lux Park to see Argyle defeat Liskeard 5-1 in tonights friendly. Ryan Dickson opened the scoring with further goals coming from Lee Makel, Chris Zebrowski and two from Stephen Milne. Argyle: Schofield, Drew, Routledge, Nute, Laird, Rose, Hodges, Makel, Dickson, Stonebridge, Sturrock. Subs - Zebrowski, Summerfield, Martin, Hoyles, Milne.
Peter Gilbert missed Saturdays friendlies due to a slight injury but is expected to play in Wednesdays game against Torquay United. Bobby Williamson said: "It's just a niggle, he will be fine. We will see how he is on Monday and take it from there."
Stevie Crawford was pleased to score his first Argyle goal on Saturday. He said: "It was probably the hardest chance that I had. It's nice to hit the back of the net, albeit there should have been a few more. Hopefully, in another four or five games the sharpness will be there and I will take more chances. Marino Keith has done excellent today and I know Nathan Lowndes from up the road. I have heard a lot of good things about big Mickey Evans so there is nobody going to take places for granted, and that's the way it should be. We have got to make it as difficult as possible for the manager. The good thing that comes out of that is, hopefully, the team will do well and we will get the right results." Marino Keith was pleased to get the first game out of the way: "It was difficult for everybody," he said. "I think it was a fitness exercise at the end of the day. We have done a lot of hard work during the week so everybody has been feeling a bit fatigued. I think we got out of it what we came here for. It has been full steam ahead every day. Hopefully, we will see the benefit of that in the next few months."
After the game against Plymouth Parkway Stephen Milne said: "I was obviously pleased to get the goal. But at this stage of the season it's all about fitness and getting 90 minutes under your belt. I missed the same chance earlier but I just went to put it low and in the far corner. My legs were a bit heavy at the end. It has been a hard week but it's good to get the work in. I came down here as I knew the manager and Plymouth is a nice place to live. Everyone has been really friendly here. Also, this is a really strong league with a lot of top class players."
Gerry McCabe praised the youngsters in his line-up after yesterdays game. He said: "Paul Connolly on one side and Brinton Nute on the other did very well, with Shelley continually finding plenty of space to get his crosses in, while Brinton did not look out of place. The youngsters who came on in the second half all did well, and it is good for them to come on with the first-team lads and it will not do them any harm. With what we saw today, the club have some good young boys here." McCabe also praised new boys Matthias Doumbe and Steven Milne. "Doumbe is a strong lad who is good in the air and has great pace. He has a lot of attributes and he is an ambitious lad, that's why he came to Plymouth. Milne is a good finisher and it was nice to see him get the goal. He was disappointed with his earlier miss. Today was purely and simply about fitness. We have done the hard work in training but you have to get the boys out with the ball. There is still a long way to go before the season starts." He added: "There was a bit of rivalry in the dressing room - they were calling ours the B side. But it's about all the players getting the same amount of time on the park. The lads have shown a tremendous attitude in training and today was good for their fitness. Now it's all about doing the hard work so we are fit when the season starts."
Bobby Williamson was pleased with the first work-out of pre-season yesterday : "The results are not terribly important at this time of year. It's good for Marino, he has hit the back of the net and Stevie got a goal but, as you have seen, they were running on empty near the end. We had a double session yesterday when they did a lot of running to build up our fitness. Our four strikers all got 45 minutes today and, obviously, we will try to get them more time on the park as pre-season goes along. There's a massive competition for places up front this year so it's vital for everybody to play to their capabilities. Obviously, goals are a big thing, but it's early days for everybody. You have seen out there today there's still a lot of work to be done, getting the sharpness and the touch back. But it's good to get a couple of goals to start things off."
Argyle won both of todays friendlies, 3-0 at Plymouth Parkway and 4-2 at St Blazey. At Parkway the goals came from David Friio, Lee Hodges and Stephen Milne whilst Marino Keith scored a hat-trick and Stevie Crawford the fourth at St Blazey. In Cornwall Bobby Williamson said: "We haven't started any sharpness training and you could see that today. We expected that. I was pleased Marino got a hat-trick. It will be good for his confidence. I'm also pleased we came away with no injuries." Back in Plymouth Gerry McCabe said: "It was a good work-out. The first game for the lads is always about getting the fitness up. You can train as hard as you can during the week, but this is where you get your real fitness. I was pleased. Obviously the touch isn't there – it's early days - but we've got another three or four weeks to get them ready. All the work we're doing at the moment is the endurance work. We've got plenty of time, when we start working with the ball, to get their touch - and it will come because they have a great attitude in training and I thought the attitude was great today. These games are just a step for your fitness. They'll be plenty more games, and, hopefully, by the time the season comes, we will be fully prepared." Team v St Blazey: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Aljofree, Capaldi, Norris, Adams, Makel, Lasley, Keith, Stonebridge. Subs – Laird, Evans M, Crawford (not used – Hoyles). Team v Plymouth Parkway: Larrieu, Connolly, Wotton, Doumbe, Nute, Martin, Friio, Hodges, Sturrock, Milne, Lowndes. Subs – Summerfield, Evans D, Dickson (not used - Routledge).
Scott Laird has again been selected for the Scottish Under-17 side. He is part of the squad that will take part in a tournament in Finland next month
Bobby Williamson and John Blackley will take half of the first-team squad to St Blazey this Saturday, while coach Gerry McCabe takes the other half to face Plymouth Parkway. The teams for the trips are; Agryle v St Blazey: McCormick, Worrell, Coughlan, Capaldi, Norris, Aljofree, Makel, Adams, Keith, Lasley, Stonebridge, Crawford, Evans.M, Laird, Hoyles; Argyle v Plymouth Parkway: Larrieu, Connolly, Wotton, Doumbe, Nute, Martin, Friio, Hodges, Sturrock, Milne, Lowndes, Dickson, Summerfield, Routledge, Evans.D
All five of Argyle's summer signings are expected to make their first appearances for the club tomorrow. Bobby Williamson has been pleased with the way the five signings have integrated into the squad. "I didn't think there would be a problem, and there certainly has not been a problem," he said. "They are all professional footballers and in this game you do move around a lot. They are no different from anybody else." Williamson will be at St Blazey tomorrow but he will let coaches John Blackley and Gerry McCabe take charge of the two sides. The manager also reported no major injury problems after the first full week of training. "It's the first game back for the players and I'm not looking for a lot from them," said Williamson. "I don't expect them to be be playing at their peak at this moment in time. It's just to try to get their lungs working and get a game under their belts. Training has been fine. We have done a combination of ballwork and running. We have mainly done ballwork in the mornings and running in the afternoons. We have had a couple of wee niggles and strains but I'm sure they will be okay."
Argyle have been drawn away to Yeovil Town in the first round of the Carling Cup. The match is expected to be played on August 24th. Bobby Williamson is relishing his first Westcountry derby: "I am disappointed we are not at home, but we are obviously looking forward to it. I am sure it will stir up a lot of interest and be a passionate affair. Derby matches are unique. We'll probably go in as favourites, but in the bookies' minds, not ours. We will give them as much respect as if they were a Premiership side."
Argyle paid more than £30,000 in agents' fees in the first six months of 2004. The figure is revealed in a new report from the Football League and is the first time the total amount of money paid to agents by clubs has been revealed. Peter Jones today insisted the agents' fees the club had paid out in recent seasons had been "money well spent." The report shows that Argyle made 10 player transactions in the first six months of 2004. Five of them were new registrations and transfers, four were updated contracts and one was a loan transfer. The total amount paid to agents by Argyle was £32,376 - the third highest total among clubs in the Second Division last season. It is not revealed how many of the player transactions involved agents' fees and what they were individually. Jones said: "My feeling is that while we have spent a bit of money on agents in the last few years it has been money well spent. The evidence of that is the way the squad have pulled together on the pitch. It's wrong to assume it's a waste of money. Agents often bring you a player you might not have known about. The classic example is the agent who brought David Friio and Romain Larrieu over to this country. What value have they been to this football club over the last three years? We had absolutely no problem in paying that agent. He did all the work in bringing them over from France. I think it's fine as long as you have a proper, clear working relationship with an agent."
There have been a few minor changes to Argyle's Austrian tour itinerary. The game against SV Bad Aussee, on July 17th will now kick-off at 7pm. The second match on July 20th will be now be against SV Wacker Burghausen and will be played at Eben, 50 kilometres from the training camp at Obertraun, and will kick off at 5pm. The final game will be against Czech team Ceske Budejovice on July 23rd will now be staged at Bad Goisern, kicking off at 6pm
Argyle have added another friendly to their pre-season fixtures. An Argyle XI will play Liskeard at Lux Park on July 12th (kick off 7.30)
Argyle's game at Cardiff City, originally scheduled for August 14th, will now be played on Friday August 13th and will be shown live on Sky
Argyle have announced the admission prices for the friendlies against Portsmouth and Southampton later this month. Tickets for all areas of the ground will cost £12 for adults, £8 for senior citizens and £4 for under-16s. Tickets are available to season ticket holders now and will go on general sale from July 12th
Season ticket holders have until tomorrow to book their seats for the Dave Smith testimonial match against Torquay United on July 14th. Bobby Williamson is hoping for a decent crowd, he said: "I remember Dave, both from his time with Plymouth but also from his spell in Scotland. Hopefully, he will get a good turnout on the night. I know he's still putting something back into football by coaching kids in Plymouth, which is great."
Bobby Williamson believes defender Matt Villis can only benefit from his loan spell with Torquay United and Williamson also admitted he wants Stewart Yetton and Marcus Martin to get first team experience elsewhere to continue their football education. "I feel their chances of playing in our team just now are limited," said Williamson. "We have got a strong squad this year. We feel that Matt has gone as far as he can go reserve-team wise. It would hold him back if he has got to play more reserve football next year. The natural progression is for Matt to be playing first team football and Torquay can give him that opportunity. It benefits everybody. It gives Torquay a good young player and gives Matt an opportunity to play first team football and we still keep him on our books and, hopefully, he will progress. He has got potential for the future, most definitely. The way I have always judged young players is 'has there been a progression from the previous year?' All the indications have been that he has progressed. We want players who can identify with the club and have come through the ranks, but with us stepping up a division and adding to the squad his chances of first team football next year would have been limited. Torquay is not very far away so he's handy and we can always nip along and keep an eye on his progress."
David Friio insists fitness could form the backbone of any success this season. "It is a new challenge and will be a new experience," he said. "We've done really well these past three seasons, because of our pre-seasons I think. Other managers say we're a very fit team. I don't think anybody likes running, but you have to do it and everybody's working hard to be right for the new season." Friio and his team-mates reported back for pre-season training on Thursday, along with five new faces. He said: "Paul Sturrock used to bring in one or two new faces, but this is the first time we've had five. It's different, but good. We needed fresh blood and we are looking forward to the start of the new season. After two months on holiday, it's always good to be back. Two months is a lot, but that's the good thing about England. In France you only get four-to-five weeks off, but in England you have time to go on holiday and see your family. You have plenty of time, so when you come back you can't wait - the only problem was the weather! I've been a professional footballer for 11 years and it's the first time we've trained pre-season in the rain!" He added: "I feel fresh and I'm looking forward to the new challenge. We have a new manager, even though we know him from the end of last season and a new assistant-manager. It's nice and refreshing. My first impression of Gerry is that he's very nice and very, very fit. We had two very hard days and he was with us, running the whole time - that means everything. But he's as difficult to understand as the other Scots!"
Bobby Williamson has confirmed that his squad has a clean bill of health as pre-season gets serious. He said: "We've had no problems so far - everybody's fine. There's no niggles or strains, so I'm pleased." The manager refused to comment on what specific work would be done now in training as the team begins to take shape. "We will be incorporating more ball work in the next few days, but I'm not talking about it further publicly," he said. "We invited the Press down on Friday, but that's it." Williamson is happy with the size of his squad, saying: "I'm pleased with the squad. I'm not looking to add any more to it. We've got competition for places, but the players we've brought in will have to work very, very hard to dislodge some of these guys. The guys we've brought in will have to earn the right to play." Gerry McCabe was introduced to the players at training on Thursday and Williamson said: "You need coaches and Gerry's a capable coach. We've worked together for a long time and know each other inside-out. I know how Gerry works and he's a guy I can trust. It's all coming together nicely. The players have come back in not bad shape, but the lads are very professional and it's not been a long close season to be honest. We're just trying to keep the good work and momentum going. The club has had a couple of fantastic seasons. Let's hope we can have another one this year." Williamson refused to set any clear goals for the forthcoming season: "The Millwall game is all we're looking to and getting three points, then we'll take it from there, we're just getting back into it and it's hard work. We're trying to get an edge on the competition, but you'll find most teams are working very, very hard at this stage of the season."
Argyle's commercial director John Britton is leaving Home Park to start up in business himself. He said: "I have found it a privilege and a pleasure to have worked at Argyle during such good times in the club's history. It has been exciting for me to see Argyle grow, both as a club and as a business, and I am more than confident that will continue." Paul Stapleton said: "John has brought a lot of energy and ideas to Argyle, and contributed fully to the club's recent successes. We are grateful that his expertise has helped the club move forward. Knowing John, I have no doubt that his new business venture will be an unqualified success. John, of course, departs Home Park with our very good wishes for the future."
Argyle today confirmed Matt Villis' loan move to Torquay United. Bobby Williamson thinks the move suits all parties, he said: "They want him, he wants to go, and I want him to go."
Bobby Williamson yesterday admitted 'the hard work starts now' as he welcomed his squad back for the first day of training. "I think they're all excited about getting back into it," he said. "But once they're back into it, I'm sure they will be dreading it, as it's going to be hard work. Players, nowadays, know they have be superbly fit to try and get an edge on the opposition. That said, you'll find most teams working very, very hard at this stage, as I do believe it holds you in good stead for the remainder of the season. At this time I'm not reading too much into it all. Once we go to Austria, that's when I'll be looking at everyone's fitness and how they actually play. After that we'll shape up from there." Williamson also expressed his delight at linking up once again with Gerry McCabe: "It's all come together nicely. I've known and worked with Gerry for a long time, so he's a guy I know I can trust. Together with Sloop and Maxey they're guys I know I can work with. I know they're good at their job, so things are looking up."
New Argyle coach Gerry McCabe was very happy at the first day of pre-season training. "I'm pleased to be here," he said. "I've known Bobby a long time and we always said maybe one day we'd go in together coaching, and meet up again, and that's what has happened. Bobby had obviously sampled the scene down here when he asked me to come. He told me all about the place and asked me if I would be interested in coming and I said, 'of course I would'. I'm just happy to get the training started now and I feel at home." McCabe insisted no player will be an 'automatic choice' this season: "The thing about Bobby is he'll give every player a chance and if someone comes in and does well, he'll stay in. Bobby is as honest as the day is long. He tells you things straight and he'll be like that with the players. I think he'll get the maximum out of them. The players can see his sincerety and his honesty, and he'll try and do his best for them and the club. That's the way I think you get the best out of players, on and off the field. That's good for competition. There'll be no automatic choices. We've got a bit of competition now with the players Bobby's brought in and that can only be good for Argyle. The SPL's a hard league. The new boys have all done well there, and that says a lot about them. That's why Bobby's brought them here. They're a good bunch of lads and they've seemed to mix well with the rest of the players. The boys are keen to work hard and get started, and that's the main thing. They know it will be a difficult league, but they'll want to prove themselves down here as well." McCabe added that Williamson is focussing purely on the first game of the season and refuses to get ahead of himself: "First of all, what we'll do, is worry more about our own team than the opposition. But Bobby's ambitious - very ambitious. I think we all are and that's why we get on so well. We've got an aim to bring success wherever we are. We always say we'll give it our best shot. We work hard and try and get the best out of where we are. You're always going to have ups and downs in football, but hopefully we'll have more ups than downs. Obviously we have our differences and we have our wee arguments - but that's part and parcel of it. I respect Bobby and I think he respects me. I've got an enthusiasm for the game, as he has, and we just bounce off one another. We've had a really good working relationship for the last eight years and had a bit of success with Kilmarnock. And I think we did a marvellous job at Hibs, under the circumstances, with the young boys we had. We'll be as passionate as the fans are about Argyle. We know it will be difficult, but we'll work to try and get it right. Hopefully we'll get a response from the players and if you get 100 per cent from the players, you can't ask any more."
Paul Wotton believes every player will start pre-season with 'a clean slate' under Bobby Williamson. He said: "Every single player has got to prove themselves to the manager and that's the way it should be. Everyone will be starting with a clean slate and trying to impress him. Everyone wants to play. I'm sure pre-season will be very competitive, which is good for the team." Williamson only took charge of Argyle for the final three games of 2003/04 and Wotton said: "He didn't really stamp his authority on training last season, but I'm sure he will now. I'm sure he's got his own ideas and we'll see them in the first couple of weeks, and also meet Gerry McCabe." Wotton added: "Like everyone with pre-season, I don't enjoy it, but it's a fact it has to be done. If you get a good pre-season, it makes the season a lot easier. I'm not a bad trainer - I usually keep myself half-fit. It's just a case of getting back into it. After the first couple of weeks it gets easier."
Argyle have changed the kick-off time for their August Bank Holiday game against Nottingham Forest. The match will now start at 8pm
Matt Villis is to join Torquay United on a season-long loan deal
Gerry McCabe was today officially introduced as Argyle's new coach. "He's a guy I've known for a long, long time," said Bobby Williamson. "I was working it out the other day and it's actually 25 years, which makes me feel old, but thankfully not as old as he looks." When asked about McCabe's qualities Williamson joked: "If anything bad happens to me, something worse happens to him – you need somebody about who is like that! No, Gerry's a good coach. He's got the qualifications you need to work anywhere in Europe; he's a guy I trust and we've had a good relationship over the years. Hopefully he can add something to us." McCabe revealed that the pair's partnership had always been planned. He said: "We played together and always kept in touch when Bobby's career took him elsewhere. We were at the coaching courses in Scotland together and we always said one day we might be able to team up, and that's what happened." He also said he had little hesitation in moving to Plymouth. "Football's football, wherever you go," he said. "I know it's a bit of a jaunt, especially if you're traveling with John Blackley, but I'm pleased that Bobby's asked me to come along and join him."
Ahead of next week's two friendly fixtures Bobby Williamson said: "It's just a good chance for a few players to get match fit and it gives them all a chance to get some valuable time on the park. It will be an introduction for some players to the fans and a chance for fans to see what they can offer. Hopefully, they won't be judging too early. A lot of players get written off by supporters and yet a couple of months afterwards they say, 'he's a lot better than I thought'. Argyle supporters are passionate, but I'm sure they will welcome the players." Williamson said: "Every club goes through this same procedure each season. I do believe it's the right time to add players to the squad, when everyone's on a level fitness-wise, and they all have the chance to work hard and stake a claim. To be honest, I'm not too concerned about how the opposition are. It's just about players getting match fit. That's what I'm looking for. Results and performance are not important at this time. I'm trying not to get too excited too early - it's for the fans to get excited. I'm just looking forward to doing the job on a daily basis."
Tickets for Argyle's opening two home matches of the season - against Millwall and Sunderland will go on sale on July 19th. The club today released dates on which tickets will go on general sale to non-members for all of their league games in 2004-05 and the details can be found here
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