A Round-up of Argyle News
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
The Pilgrims played a surprise game against Dutch champions Feyenoord at their training facility in Rotterdam today. Adjacent to Feyenoord's stadium, Argyle fought out a respectable 0-0 draw against a strong side, but unfortunately for the trevelling fans, it was behind closed doors.
The hosts fielded Danish International striker Nicolai Jorgensen, last year's top scorer in the Eredivisie, with 21 goals. Also in the Feyenoord team was experienced full-back Miquel Nelom, twice-capped for the Netherlands; recent big-money signing Sofyan Amrabat, a Moroccan international, the brother of Watford player Nordin; and numerous other players with first-team experience.
"Feyenoord had been in Austria," Derek Adams said. "We contacted a number of teams in the top division to see if we could get a game, and Feyenoord were one of the ones that got back to us. Giovanni van Bronckhorst wanted to get a number of his players some game time. We needed a game, and it was a good competitive match for us.
"It was a good day all round. We changed in the stadium, were looked after well by Giovanni van Bronckhorst, his assistant manager Jan Wouters and Bas van Noortwijk, the team manager. We went to the training ground to play the game. They have very good facilities, and the players enjoyed pitting their wits against a team that have just won their championship a couple of months ago.
"We played against a team that will play in the Champions League this season. A number of the players that played today will play in that competition. It was another step up from the Cardiff match, which is important at this stage of the season. We needed to keep possession of the ball when we had it, and create chances – and we did that. We had the better opportunities in the 90 minutes; three very good opportunities that we could have scored with. Defensively, as a team, we performed very well. On both sides, I was happy with how the day panned out."
In his second trip to the Aparthotel in Delden, the Netherlands, David Fox has spoken of the contrast in visits. "It's a different feel this time," he said. "Last time, it was all about getting to know the lads and getting used to how the manager works. Now, I know how things are, and I make sure some of the newer lads coming in can settle as well as I did, and to make them feel welcome, just like the lads made me feel welcome last year. The core of the group from last year has stayed together, which is good. We all get on well together - we're a year down the line - and the new lads have taken to that, as well. It's more of a settled bunch of players this pre-season. I think there were only three or four lads from the season before.
"There's no hangover this year, like there was last year. Everyone's buoyant – and the club is used to winning games. The club has won a lot of games over the last few seasons, and it's important we carry on that momentum. It's a good habit to have. Hopefully we can get a good start and see it snowball from there.
"It's a great facility here. Everyone is together, eating together. The training pitch is in good nick; there's certainly no excuses for the players."
Sonny Bradley ended Friday night's pre-season game against Cardiff City with a broken nose. He explained after the game: "I went to win a header, running full pelt, and their central midfielder just stepped inside, and I ran straight into the back of his head", before casually adding, "I've just broke my nose.
"I've broken it a couple of times so I knew what it was straight away. I just got back on. It hurts, but the adrenaline rush gets you through. I think if I wasn't playing football; if I was standing still and someone headbutted me in the face, it would be a different situation. I suspect tonight it will be throbbing."
Bradley is relishing his new challenges this season. He said: "I'm fully aware that I have to be on it because if I am not then I can easily lose my place, with Ryan Edwards, Yann Songo'o, Jakub Sokolik and even Jordan Bentley pushing to get into the first team. That's the way I want it. I don't want to turn up to training thinking my place is secure. If I don't perform to my best there is a quality player waiting to take my place. That's good for me and good for the squad."
Bradley has been in the wars in pre-season. A toe injury sustained in training kept him out of many of Argyle's warm-up matches, but he said: "I feel good. I was looking forward to a couple of games next week but they've been called off, which is disappointing. I came back fit and strong from the summer. Even though I missed a week, I was still fit, and managed to maintain my fitness. It's all good." As for his broken nose, he said: "We still have two weeks of training, and before we know it, we'll be at Peterborough. As long as I am 100% for that game, that's all that matters. It was frustrating, but I'd rather do it now and treat it. If it happens the week before the season that is worse."
Despite the unforeseen circumstances outside of Argyle's control, Derek Adams fully expects that his side will benefit from the club's trip to the Netherlands. The Pilgrims travel to Delden today for a schedule of rigorous training and important bonding. "I'm looking forward to it," the manager said. "It's a place I know well and the players enjoy going there. It's a fantastic facility for us to go and prepare for the season ahead. We've got two weeks now until the start of the season and we've done a lot of hard work at home. We go there to bed down what we're looking for from the team for the start of the season."
Unfortunately, both of the club's scheduled matches in the Netherlands, against FC Emmen and FC Twente, have been called off, leaving the boss rethinking his plans. Adams is as frustrated as anyone with the cancellations, but is focusing his efforts on ensuring his team and the fans have some more competitive football to enjoy before the new season begins. "There's nothing much that we can do as a football club," he said. "We've arranged the games against good opposition. There's obviously an issue with getting permission to play the games in Holland. It's difficult, but we've got to try and solve the problem. We'll try and do that in the best way we possibly can, and we'll try and benefit from the week. The fans were looking forward to going out there and see their team play on foreign soil. There's nothing that the football club can do about that. We can only apologise for the situation that we've been put in. We feel sorry that's happened and we obviously have to try and solve the problem from a first-team point of view. I'm still working on different aspects with the people I know in Holland, and we'll wait and see if I can get anything finalised. We'll probably not know until next week."
When asked if he may look to arrange a game in England after the tour, Adams said: "We'd probably try that as well, yes. That is a possibility. But it's not something that we're looking at at this stage. We're trying to concentrate on a game in Holland. We would want to have a game between now and the start of the season, and whether it's in Holland or it's in Britain, we'll have a game."
Derek Adams was pleased that his side stood up well to their stiffest test of the summer against Cardiff City last night. "It was a good workout," he said. "I was obviously able to use 20 players tonight. It was good to get the new players coming onto Home Park. I think it's very important; some players haven't played here before. They don't know what the surroundings are like. With two weeks to go, I think that's probably beneficial to us, rather than starting the following week. It was just about getting match fitness again. They gave us a test, without causing us too much trouble. Over the 90, it was a slow-paced game. It was probably played in quite a testimonial fashion at times, and probably not the way that both managers wanted the game to be played, but that's the way it panned out."
Adams also gave an update on the injury status of three players who missed the game, beginning with Ryan Taylor, who is set to rejoin the side for the trip to Holland over the weekend. "He's progressing well. He'll start training with us on Sunday," said Adams. "Jamie Ness is progressing well. He's starting to build up his progression. He won't travel with us to Holland; he'll stay back here and train with us when we get back. He'll be with the physio department back here. Gary Miller had a knock on the ankle, so we didn't risk him. He'll be fine for Sunday's trip."
Plymouth Argyle Football Club has announced the start of a process to refresh its board of directors, nearly six years after James Brent's Akkeron Group bought the club. Two of the existing directors, David Felwick and Peter Jones, will step down, to be replaced by two new directors who will each be invited to serve an initial three-year term. Simon Hallett, who joined the board in April 2016, has been appointed to the role of Vice-Chairman with immediate effect. James Brent remains Chairman, and Richard Holliday, Tony Wrathall, John Morgan stay on as non-executive directors. CEO Martyn Starnes is also a director.
The intention is to have the new board structure in place by October, with David Felwick and Peter Jones retaining their association with the club as associate directors. James Brent said: "The Board and I are incredibly grateful to David and Peter for the significant contribution they have made to our club over almost six years. They have both provided wise counsel and constructive challenge during recent good times and the really difficult first two years following the club's exit from administration. There is considerable evidence that Boards which refresh their membership regularly and are diverse are much more effective than ones which do not. Diversity is even more important as we seek to grow membership of the Green Army with a particular focus on women and families."
Supporters and the general public have a chance to see the latest plans for the Mayflower grandstand redevelopment and associated developments at Home Park this weekend. Argyle and Akkeron Group begin a public consultation today between 1pm and 4pm in the Players' Lounge, and project director Tony Hopwood and architect Richard Cord will be on hand to answer questions and talk about the plans. The consultation – in support of the club's forthcoming submission of a planning application for the project – reopens at 10am tomorrow and runs until 1.45pm.
The planning application will include both the new Grandstand redevelopment and wider development on sites adjacent to Home Park, including an ice-rink. Argyle chairman James Brent said: "What we're presenting over the next couple of days are full plans, not just for the grandstand but setting that in the context of Higher Home Park and an additional piece of land that we that we have agreed, subject to planning, so people will be able to see the total picture. The grandstand is clearly the core feature within it, but it also includes the proposed new ice-rink for Plymouth and an additional piece of land which runs alongside the front [side] of the Life Centre, so there is a commercial development plan for that site.
"There will be lots of plans, lots of pictures and I'm really keen to take lots of questions. I'm hoping to spend a bit of time on Saturday with the consultation, being able to answer questions myself, personally, as well. I'm very much looking forward to it."
The chairman added: "Clearly we're operating within a budget, as everyone will understand, and if we had a higher budget, we would no doubt have even better facilities. But, within the budget, I think we've got a really good solution and it does create the balance that we sought to achieve from day one of preserving the history of Argyle and respecting the history of Home Park in terms of the facade, the shape of the Leitch building, and so on. But, at the same time, providing modern facilities that families, and supporters generally, deserve in the 21st century."
Tomorrow at 2pm, following the consultation process, the Argyle Board of Directors will be staging a Fans' Forum in the Green Taverners' Suite, during which fans can quiz the Pilgrims' hierarchy on the grandstand and other club issues. For supporters who cannot make the forum, the club is planning to make it a Facebook Live event on facebook.com/plymouthargylefc.
Argyle have heard this afternoon that their pre-season match against FC Twente, scheduled for next Friday, has been cancelled. The local Mayor had previously granted permission for the game, which was to have been played at the Dutch club's training ground, but he revoked it earlier today after consulting with local police. This included a review of fans' behaviour at the Pilgrims' game against MVV Maastricht last year. The authorities also noted that some Argyle followers have, in the past, detonated smoke devices in stadiums, which has been a problem in Dutch football.
With the team scheduled to fly out on Sunday for their week-long training-camp at Delden in the Netherlands, there is no time to find an alternative venue. A similar fate recently befell Argyle's other Dutch fixture against FC Emmen, leaving the Pilgrims with no match during their pre-season trip.
Argyle suffered their first and last defeat of the pre-season tonight, by the only goal of a very close game against Championship side Cardiff City. The visitors' winner came just four minutes after Argyle's five substitutions at the start of the second half. Argyle: Luke McCormick (Robbert te Loeke 82); Oscar Threlkeld, Ryan Edwards (Jakub Sokolik HT), Sonny Bradley (Jordan Bentley 82), Aaron Taylor-Sinclair; Yann Songo'o (Cameron Sangster 82), David Fox (Antoni Sarcevic HT); Lionel Ainsworth (Gregg Wylde HT), Graham Carey (Alex Fletcher 82), Joel Grant (Ruben Lameiras HT), Jake Jervis (Nathan Blissett HT). Attendance: 5,021 (495 away).
Derek Adams emphasised the importance of the experience gained by the young Pilgrims who assisted some of his senior players last night. Argyle recorded their biggest win of the pre-season campaign so far - a 7-0 win over a Devon FA squad - and ended the game with 11 teenagers on the pitch, with nine academy players getting game time during the evening. In a further plus, injured duo Sonny Bradley and Jakub Sokolik returned to the fold, the latter getting his first pre-season minutes, in an evening full of positives for the Argyle boss.
"I was delighted tonight," Adams said. "We had a mix of senior and younger players and they all acquitted themselves very well. It's important that the younger players get the benefit of playing with the senior players. Tonight it's about sharing a dressing room with them, it's about sharing a pitch with them, getting to know what the game is about. It is important, as a first-team manager, that we understand and younger players coming through, and coach them as well. We've been able to help them the way that we coach them at first-team level.
"There was a lot of good movement and good play. They all came into the first team environment, and it is important that they play faster than they do in under-18 football, and they did that tonight. Every one of them showed a terrific attitude. Cameron Sangster, who has been with us for the majority of pre-season, from the under-18s, has done really well again. He's one that, if he keeps on developing, will do well."
The game served not only as a build-up match for the new season, but as an exhibition and fundraiser for the Devon FA's chosen charity of Childrens' Hospice South West.
Derek Adams was happy man after his team's sixth win inside 12 days last night in their hardest test yet, against National League opposition. "It was a good performance from us," he said. "We're delighted because we have stepped up the opposition. We scored a couple of goals – and probably could have scored a couple more – and kept a clean sheet, so we have got to be happy. I don't think Luke had any saves to make in the game, which is good. The back four did well and the two in front."
Nearly 1,800 supporters attended the game, including over 800 Greens, and Argyle had to overcome stubborn opposition from the Gulls' players and local conditions in an otherwise hospitable environment. Adams said: "It's a brilliant stadium. I always like coming here. The pitch is always in immaculate condition, so is the stadium itself. It's well equipped and they probably should be in a higher division.
"It's difficult because the pace of the pitch is quick, and the ball is different and it slides across the surface. They use a different ball; it's a slicker ball in this division than we use. It has got a bit more gloss on it than the ones we use. It's totally different to play with, compared to the one that we use in our league."
Argyle continued their successful pre-season run this evening with a thumping 7-0 win over a Devon FA representative side at County HQ in Newton Abbot. Argyle fielded a mixture of old and new, senior pros and aspiring juniors, with the goal tally shared by Lionel Ainsworth (2), first-season professional Alex Fletcher (2), development player Alex Battle and apprentice substitute Sam Ryan (2). Argyle: Michael Cooper (Max Childs 80); Jordan Bentley (Harry Hodges 80), Jakub Sokolik (Harry Downing HT), Sonny Bradley (capt, Elliott Crawford 65), Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Ryan Law 65); Cameron Sangster (Luke Jephcott HT), Dan Rooney; Lionel Ainsworth (Sam Ryan 58), Alex Battle, Joel Grant (Billy Craske 58); Alex Fletcher. Attendance: 391.
Argyle's 100% start to pre-season continued with a 2-0 victory against Torquay United at Plainmoor this evening. The goals came from Graham Carey, a fine strike in the 34th minute, and Joel Grant near the end. Argyle: Luke McCormick; Gary Miller, Ryan Edwards, Yann Songo'o, Gary Sawyer; Antoni Sarcevic, David Fox; Gregg Wylde (Joel Grant 74), Ruben Lameiras, Graham Carey; Jake Jervis (Lionel Ainsworth 74). Attendance: 1,780 (815 away).
Following Argyle's training ground renovation, captain Luke McCormick gave credit to the board of directors for funding the project has he feels has given the team an advantage. He said: "The training ground is in fantastic condition. It's something that really deserves a mention and will help us this season. It makes a huge difference. All of a sudden now we are walking out to the training ground and it's like 'right, we are here to work.' Those little percentages count, so I think the management, as well as the chairman and the directors, deserve a huge amount of credit for putting the funds in to be able to give us that as players. We appreciate it. We work so hard Monday to Friday, preparing for Saturday. That really is where all the work goes on so for that investment to go into it helps us no end. And it's only right for a club of our size. It will give us platform, I think, to really push on now."
Marc McCallum has rejected a contract offer with Plymouth Argyle in favour of a return to his hometown club Forfar Athletic. The 24-year-old was offered a new deal by manager Derek Adams at the end of last season, but after a campaign which yielded just two substitute appearances McCallum has returned home.
Derek Adams was delighted with his side's latest victory, a 4-0 win at Weston Super-Mare. Adams said of his squad: "I thought it was an excellent performance for us today we maybe should have scored a few more goals but it's about upping the level and we did that. We have got a lot of good attacking players. That came, not only from the midfield, it came from the full-backs, as well, and defenders coming out with the ball. Overall, we were happy to control the game and do as well as we have. The better opposition you play, you have got to be careful how far your full-backs go forward. You saw that with Weston – their full-backs went too high and allowed us to nick the ball and play through them. I'm delighted. We have got a lot of good competition for places; I think that is going to be important as the season comes to a start.
Gary Sawyer has welcomed the fact that every player will need to fight for their position at Argyle this season and nothing is taken for granted: "It's exactly what you want. I think it's going to help everyone. If you are in the team you need someone to push you, and if you are not in the team you need to try to push someone out. It's a massive bonus for the football club to have two people in every position. Obviously, we are all together as a group of boys, but you want to put the shirt on in that first game of the season and you want to keep it from there. Everyone has got to work hard, which they are, and it will be fight for every position to make sure you are starting come the first game."
Argyle's 100% start to pre-season has continued with a 4-0 victory over Weston-super-mare. An early goal from Ruben Lameiras fired Argyle into an early lead and a Jake Jervis brace saw us 3-0 up at half-time. Argyle had to wait late for a fourth but it came in the end from an unlikely source- right-back Gary Miller with a cross-come-shot that nestled into the corner. Argyle: te Loeke(McCormick), Threlkeld, Edwards(Bentley), Songo'o, Sawyer, Sarcevic, Fox(Miller), Ainsworth(Carey), Lameiras(Blissett), Grant(Wylde), Jervis(Fletcher).
Argyle are in talks with FC Emmen after their pre-season friendly against the Dutch side was unexpectedly called off by the town's officials. Emmen Mayor Eric van Oosterhout decreed on Wednesday that the game, long scheduled for Tuesday, July 25, could no longer take place as arranged. Mayor Van Oosterhout told FC Emmen, after consultation with local authorities, that local police would have their hands full that day with a butterfly market and cycling race in the town. A club spokesman said: "While we understand the mayor's decision, we are disappointed to have to revise the detail of our visit to Holland at this late stage. We are working with officials at FC Emmen, who share our disappointment, to see if an alternative venue or date can be accommodated. We will keep supporters appraised of the situation as it develops."
The academy side of Chelsea will visit Argyle in the group stage of the newly devised Checkatrade Trophy, joining Yeovil and Exeter in our group. Fixtures times and date will follow in due course. All Academy Under-21 sides will play all their group phase games away from home, meaning Chelsea will meet Argyle at Home Park.
Argyle's winning tart to pre-season has continued with a 5-1 victory at Buckland Athletic in the fourth game of the week. Two goals apiece from Nathan Blissett and Ruben Lameiras were complimented by Joel Grant with Buckland getting a goal sandwiched between Argyle's third and fourth. Argyle: Te Loeke, Miller(Edwards), Bentley, Taylor-Sinclair(Songo'o), Jervis(Grant), Sangster(Sawyer), Fox(Threlkeld), Carey(Lameiras), Wylde(Ainsworth), Blissett(Sarcevic), Fletcher. Sub: McCormick.
Derek Adams said of the players who got a run out during the game: "Nathan Blissett did well for us last year – he scored a number of important goals for us after coming in January – and he's taken his goals well, even though he was only on for a half. He's been through the pre-season and trained every day, which is important. He's done really well. From my point of view, he's fitted in really well with the group, as have all the new players. It's good to see. Ruben Lameiras is 22 years of age and he's got a long career ahead of him. For me, we've got a very good player on our hands – a talented individual, he can go both ways. We also had the likes of Lionel Ainsworth and Joel Grant, when they came on, and we had Jake Jervis and Gregg Wylde on the wings, as well. It's a lot of pace and creativity in those areas. Jordan Bentley and Alex Fletcher got 90 minutes, which is good for them, and Sangster has come in and performed well for a 17-year-old. I was happy with him, the way that he played; he was just getting a bit tired towards the end. He's had a hard period of time, so we just need to assess him and see where he goes from here but he has done exceptionally well, being in and around the first-team. We got most of the players a good bit of the game and it was just about getting the legs turned over. As we go on, it's going to get more difficult for us and that's what we want. Weston's a step up from what we have been playing just now."
Argyle's pre-season schedule has continued with a 2-1 win over Tiverton Town at Ladysmead. Argyle went behind early on in the game after Oscar Threlkeld gave away a penalty but goals from Sarcevic and (from the bench) Blissett saw Argyle go home with a win. Argyle: McCormick(Te Loeke), Threlkeld(Miller), Edwards(Bentley), Songo'o(Taylor-Sinclair), Sawyer, Sarcevic(Fox), Carey(Sangster), Ainsworth(Jervis), Lameiras(Fletcher), Grant(Wylde), Taylor(Blissett).
Derek Adams said of the game, first of Tiverton's goal: I didn't think it was a penalty, to be fair. I thought it was a good tackle from Oscar. It was a good run-out. We obviously got a lot of game time for the players tonight, so it's just about getting the legs going again. Overall, it's another 90 minutes on the road. It was difficult at times because the challenges were flying in, and that's what happens sometimes when you come against opposition like this.
"They trained this morning and they played tonight. We had a lot of good movement and passing, but we're not up to speed as yet. I thought we might've done 45, but they didn't quite exert themselves enough in the first 45. They were at half-tilt in the first half, so we just gave them a wee extra 15 minutes. We've got another game tomorrow night, so we used everybody tonight."
Adams said of the notable absence of Sonny Bradley: "He had a toe injury after this morning, so that's why he was out today. It happened this morning; he went in for a tackle and it was blocked. Hopefully he'll be available by the weekend."
Luke McCormick spoke about the 'huge' significance of talismanic midfielder Graham Carey opting to sign a new contract with Argyle, citing the impact his presence has around the club. He said: "It's huge for us. Absolutely massive. He's been a fantastic player for us. Over the last two seasons, he's been our go-to guy. He's the one, as we know, who can turn a game. We always felt there was a chance he wouldn't go, but for him to say 'I want to do it with you this season, lads' says a lot for what he thinks of the club, the place and his loyalty to the manager. We want to build on what we've done last season. Keeping Graham Carey is a big part of that. The new players who come in will be lifted by that. The players who were here last season are lifted by that."
Derek Adams has confirmed that Argyle are looking for another striker to compliment their squad for the coming season- but said that he did not see one arriving within the next week, explaining: "I don't see it happening any time in the next week. We are looking for another striker. We are looking for two more players. We have got three strikers on our books just now, with Ryan Taylor, Nathan Blissett and Alex Fletcher. We need one more just to give us that extra competition."
On the pitch and off it, Luke McCormick believes Argyle have positioned themselves well to be a serious contender in the 2017/18 League One season. The skipper said: "The boys are coming together nicely. A good load of boys have come in who have really added to the group, off the field as well as on the field. I think, so far, it's been a good start to the campaign. I think you're already looking around the place and thinking 'yeah, we've got a really good group again', which is a huge thing. It's important to have a good group and we've been fortunate in recent years; we've always had one. It looks we're going to have a good group again. The boys have come in they've added to us in terms of their quality on a football field, but also their characters and stuff like that. It gives us a good base to start the season off, and things like that help you through. The gaffer's clever. He does his homework on players; not just their footballing ability, but how they're going to fit into us as a group. From the first day we were in, everyone was starting on the same page. No-one's playing catch-up, so that's good. The fitness levels have been good. The attitude's been really good, from the first day up until today. There's plenty of positives going on and we're looking forward to a good campaign in League One.
"The training ground's in fantastic condition. That's something that really deserves a mention and will really help us this season. It makes a huge difference. All of a sudden, we're walking out to the training ground and it's like 'right, we're here to train.' Those little percentages count, so I think the management, and obviously the chairman and directors, the people who've funded it, deserve a huge amount of credit for putting the funds in to give us that as players. We really appreciate it. We work so hard Monday to Friday, preparing for Saturday. That's really where it all goes on. So for that investment to go into it helps us no end – and it's only right, really, for a club of our size. It'll give us a platform, I think, to really push on."
Derek Adams gave his lowdown of the two Saturday games, explaining why he gave a full 90 minutes to second year apprentice Cameron Sangster: "We're only back just over a week into pre-season and the quicker we can get going, the better it is going to be for us; today, we've got a majority of them 90 minutes so we're already ahead of the game now. We have done a lot of good work for Saltash and Plymouth Parkway, and it's been a beautiful hot day. It's very important that we remember where we come from. We've had a busy day getting about and we've seen a lot of supporters today, and helped two clubs that are looking to progress. The first game of the season is always difficult because of the temperatures but, from my point of view, I was delighted with the way it went."
"They are looking good and have combined well with each other, which is the main aspect to start with; then, it's about bedding into the squad and getting to know each other on the field. They have shown, today, that they have got very good ability. At this early stage, it is just about getting a touch of the ball, getting back into action. As we get closer to the time, we'll try to bed things down and that will probably be round about the Cardiff game."
"We'll have two goalkeepers. Michael Cooper will be the third-choice. Cameron's done really well in the training we have had so I had no qualms about putting him into the first team today," said the gaffer. "He's very good on the ball; he's only a youngster but very composed. There are players who are ahead of him age-wise and experience-wise, but he's showing good attributes to do well."
Antoni Sarcevic spoke of his pride at being handed the Argyle captain's armband for the game at Plymouth Parkway, being selected for the honour ahead of Graham Carey or Sonny Bradley. Sarcevic said: "It was a big surprise when I walked in the changing room. It's a massive honour and one I'm proud of, even in pre-season, to captain the boys and a club like Plymouth Argyle. They're a good bunch of lads and they've settled in. They're a good bunch to be around and I'm sure they'll help us to a good year this year. We've been back a week now and it's been a really tough, gruelling week. The lads were feeling it, but there's nothing compared to match fitness. A good 90 minutes is what we all needed."
Derek Adams spoke positively on the fitness of Graham Carey in spite of the latter missing part of the beginning to pre-season due to becoming a father again to a baby girl. Adams also confirmed Jamie Ness and Jakub Sokolik did not play in either game due to injuries keeping them out. He said: Graham Carey was on the track on Friday afternoon. We have been on the running track Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week, so we have had a busy schedule. It has all been endurance work. We do the ball work in the morning and we run in the afternoons."
Carey himself said, of his return to action: I found it quite tough. I trained the first few days then I've been off. I did a bit up the road, some fitness work, but it's still not the same as training. I was blowing a bit in the second half, but I'll catch up and I'll do some extra sessions. It was tough, it was hot. For the first game of pre-season the weather didn't really suit us," he said. We were getting tired quite quickly with the heat and the pitch was a bit sticky, but all in all it was a good run-out for the boys and valuable minutes under our belts. Parkway played really well. There was some nice phases of play from them, give them credit, they deserved their 1-0 lead. In the end we had a bit of quality to score goals."
Argyle's first pre-season friendly of the summer (and indeed the day) was won by two returning faces. After the Greens secured the contract of Graham Carey last week, it was he who scored two goals to turn the game around after hosts Plymouth Parkway took a 1-0 lead. A rare right-footed effort from Gregg Wylde saw the game put beyond doubt: a 3-1 win for Argyle. Argyle: te Loeke, Miller, Edwards, Bradley, Taylor-Sinclair, Sarcevic, Sangster, Ainsworth, Carey(Jephcott), Wylde, Taylor. Subs: Ryan, Battle, Crawford, Cooper, Law.
Argyle's later game also was won by a two goal margin- this time a 2-0 victory over Saltash United. Argyle were unable to break down the hosts in the first half but goals from newbies Joel Grant and Ruben Lameiras made things comfortable by the end. Argyle: McCormick, Threlkeld, Rose(Hodges), Bentley, Sawyer, Songo'o, Fox, Jervis, Lameiras, Grant, Blissett(Fletcher). Subs: Cooper, Craske, Purrington, Downing.
Two of Argyle's Checkatrade Trophy group stage opponents have been revealed. but we will have to wait until Wednesday, July 12, to learn the final Academy Club, to be added. Exeter City and Yeovil Town are the clubs confirmed to be joining Argyle in Group D, but we must hang on to see which of Brighton, Chelsea, Fulham, Reading, Southampton, Swansea, Tottenham or West Ham will be joining us when we will see the order of fixtures also.
Graham Carey explained to fans why he decided to stay at Argyle following the promotion to League One rather than move further afield. The Irishman said: "It's great to be back," said Graham, "The way the club was communicating with me over the summer: they weren't too pushy; they gave me time to think; gave me time with my family, because they knew that my partner was expecting. They weren't overly pushy, I am very thankful for the way they handled it over the summer, and I am delighted to be back. In my career, I've usually moved on after two years or so but I thought it was the right time for me and my family to get a bit of stability. It wasn't really a tough decision at the end of the day. I went to watch Carl McHugh play at Motherwell and I see that made it into the papers! I was laughing. To be honest, for the first three or four weeks, I didn't really think about football or offers or anything like that.
"It was more the last two weeks it all came together; the gaffer and the club put forward an offer that I couldn't refuse and I'm really grateful for them for doing it. I think back to Grimsby away at the end of the season, the way the fans were towards me at the end of the game and stuff like that. They're the kind of things that you keep with you through your whole career and hopefully I can repay them again this year and have a successful season.
"Pre-season really starts when you get the first game under your belt and you can just look forward to playing games and getting your fitness. The first week and a half is always tough on the track and doing all the tests, but it served us well the last couple of seasons. No-one would doubt that we have been one of the fittest teams in the league over the last couple of years. It's just the way we train and work hard.
"The way the manager's brought in players this season has added to that togetherness. He recruits players on ability, but he also does recruit them on how they are; their demeanour. Being where we are in the country, you need to have a good group of players, and you've got to get them to gel because we do travel a lot. I think his recruitment this season has been great. It keeps everyone on their toes, but I think the main thing is he kept pretty much the starting 11 from last year, which not a lot of teams do when you get promoted. Players move on for whatever reason, but I think it was important to keep the core group together and add a good bit of quality - and I think he's done it."
New goalkeeper Robbert te Loeke has revealed he is determined to force his way into the Argyle first team and has not signed to merely be a number two, saying: "My aim is to play. Of course, it's always difficult when the number one goalkeeper is the captain as well. I didn't see a lot of videos from him but knowing the results from last year he must have done a really good job. We are professionals so you have to compete. The best will play. If it's Luke, it's Luke and if it's me, it's me. I will do my best and try and do everything. It's all I can do. Everybody really gets behind the team here in Plymouth. My first team in Holland had about 10,000 fans. After that I played for FC Dordrecht which is a bit smaller. Maybe 4,000 fans there. Last year I played for one even smaller. So when I saw the pictures of the stadium here I thought 'Wow – that's really cool. I have to play there'."
Argyle's League One fixture against Southend United will now take place on Good Friday, March 30. It was previously scheduled for the following day. The game, which will take place at Home Park, will kick-off at 3pm.
Ryan Edwards may be only 23 years of age but he has said that that will not prevent him being one of the loudest leadership voices from the heart of Argyle's defence next season. The defender drew upon his previous experiences with Morecambe, explaining: "You've got to help your team-mates out and at centre-half that's vital. You've got to be a leader no matter how young you are and no matter how little I know people. At that position, if you do anything wrong it's a goal, so you've got to talk and stand up to be counted. There is no guarantees in football. Once you get the shirt you've got to do everything you can to keep it, so that's what I'll be doing when I get my chance. I'll do everything I can to keep that place because everyone wants to play.
"There's going to be disappointments, but you've got to do what you've got to do to look after yourself and the lads around you. It's a big move. It'll help me a lot. It's the next level, which I'm ready for. The fan base is huge compared to where I've been playing. I've got loads of great messages on social media and there was too many to reply to. I just had to like them all."
Derek Adams is not getting carried away by Argyle's encouraging close season period but instead insisted his primary League One objective was to simply remain in the division next season. He said: "My aspirations is to stay in the division first and for most. We have been out of the division for six seasons now. If you look at those who got promoted last year, they were all able to stay in the division. None of them were able to make the play off positions and that shows you what a good league it is. League One will be tougher this year. Look at the teams that have been relegated from the Championship and look at the teams that have been promoted from League Two. It's a strong, strong division. There will be more football played in League One. I think that there are more teams which are football orientated and in League Two there were a number of teams who were more direct and that is my opinion from my point of view. It's going to be a competitive division. One that we're going to enjoy. We've got a very good fixture to begin with, away at Peterborough and the players will be ready for that."
Argyle have so far signed 8 players in the close season and Adams has said that two more will be necessary before Argyle complete their summer business. He said: "I think that's important. Not just for the football club but for the players as well. The new players coming into the football club and being able to get a preseason under their belt and to really progress from there. We've probably got a maximum of two more to come in. That was always the project at the end of the season. We've been able to get ourselves a very good squad. Taking freshness into the squad is always important. We have the nucleus of the squad from last year with us and it's about adding players to that squad and taking in players that have competed at a good level. You always look to where you can strengthen. We've done that particularly well. We've got strength and depth in the squad; we've got competition for places all over the team and that's important because we need to push everyone on."
"It's important to have freshness within your squad to prevent becoming stagnant. We've been able to add fresh new players who have played at a very good level, they are hungry and they want to do well. They are able to challenge the players that were already here last season. The new players are all staying together, which I think is important at the start; and then they will go and find their own properties. We will then go to Holland and have a training camp there and that's when it will all get bedded in."
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