A Round-up of Argyle News
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Greens on Screen's Daily Diary is a compilation of Argyle news, with help from these and other Argyle-related sites.
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Also included on the three most recent days, facts from Argyle's history.
Argyle have been drawn to face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium in the FA Cup third round. The tie is due to be played on January 3rd. Paul Sturrock said: "I'm absolutely delighted. It is a huge bonus for the players, and for the club as a whole - a huge bonus. We will be pitting ourselves against one of the world's top sides on their own patch in one of the world's best stadiums. It is games like these that players dream of playing in, and they do not come round that often. We'll enjoy the day. I asked for a big daddy in the draw, and I got one. I've just watched Histon beat Leeds, so you never know what might happen. We have got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. The very least the club will get from this is a little financial windfall, which, in this day and age, is important. The match at Arsenal isn't until January 3rd though and we've got a lot of big league games to go before then. It would be nice to go into the match at the Emirates with some wins under our belts."
Paul Sturrock will attempt to do some mind-reading this week, following the home defeat by Blackpool. "No manager can legislate for what happened out there," he said. "How do you change a team that played like last Saturday? The important thing is that we get to the bottom of it. It is a mental approach that we can't afford to keep bringing here." No player typified the difference in performance more than Rory Fallon. Sturrock said: "The worrying aspect is the change in Rory over one or two games. He is a big cog in the works of Plymouth and when he doesn't function, we have to relate to other things. MacLean came on and won more headers than Rory did all game." Despite the loss, Argyle are still eighth in the table, and Sturrock added: "People have clung a point to us and we are not ourselves out of the fray yet. We live to fight another day. The annoying thing is that we should have had three points today, be over the 30-point mark, and be flying. Instead, all of a sudden, we are going to Doncaster and we have to dig out a result again."
Argyle lost 2-1 to Blackpool at Home Park, the goal scored by Paul Gallagher after 67 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Clark, Summerfield, Folly, Gallagher, Fallon, Mpenza. Subs – MacLean, Mackie, Noone, (not used – Timar, Paterson). Attendance - 9,969
Paul Sturrock is very hopeful that Emile Mpenza will be available for today's game against Blackpool. "He'll be given every opportunity," Sturrock said. "Had he been fit in midweek, I might have been persuaded not to play him. Coming back to fitness has been a slow process for him since he has been here, and, in that kind of scenario, if you play a lot of games in a short period of time you can blow out very quickly and not be available for the next game. If he had been fit, he would have been involved, but I might not have started him." Paul Gallagher was restricted to a 34-minute substitute appearance at Southampton by an Achilles tendon injury, but he too is expected to be available to start today. "Paul has had no reaction to playing on Tuesday, so, fingers crossed, he should be OK," Sturrock added.
Paul Sturrock believes Marcel Seip will lead by example after taking over as the club's stand-in skipper. Asked about Seip's credentials as a captain, Sturrock replied: "He tosses the coin well – he won the toss the other night! I think he's one who will lead by example through his performances, rather than being a good talker." Seip has become captain only seven months after being fined and put on the transfer list by Sturrock for refusing to be a substitute for a home defeat by Charlton Athletic in April. Sturrock said: "It just shows you I don't hold any grudges. If you were to hold grudges like that, you probably wouldn't have any players left so, in the end, you have got to be appreciative that people make mistakes. As far as I'm concerned, it's water under the bridge and it's a new era."
Argyle are unbeaten in four games going into today's match against Blackpool. The visitors, on the other hand, have lost their last four matches, but according to Paul Sturrock, winning will not be a simple task. He said: "The expectation levels have rocketed, as usual. If you were to talk to an Argyle fan at this minute, he's expecting to walk in and see us 3-0 up after five minutes and, basically, have free-flowing football all afternoon. What I would say is the Championship does not allow you that kind of scenario. If you don't play 100 per cent to your values – by that I mean attitude and workrate – it's going to be very difficult. I envisage a very tight game today."
Damien McCrory came on as a substitute in the Republic of Ireland under-19s 2-0 defeat by France on Wednesday
Karl Duguid has backed Argyle to continue their fine form in his absence. When asked whether the team can extend their unbeaten run of four games he said: "There is no reason why not. I came off after 15 minutes and the first half display on Saturday was very good. We did get pushed back in the second half but that is going to happen when you are playing a very good side like Cardiff. Dave Jones said it was their worst performance but we played very well. We got a good point away from home again at Southampton, and they are a good footballing side. We have got a home game against Blackpool this weekend and there is no reason why we can't keep that home form going now. The team has been doing well and you want to be part of that. I'll still be around the place and keep in with the lads. Yoann came in and did very well on Saturday and the other night, and he can hopefully continue doing that. We see it day in, day out on the training field and it is a chance for him to step up. I have seen him in training and we all know he has got something in there and the manager must know because he has had him at a few clubs now. There are others not playing as well. If you look at the squad, it is a decent squad. I've gone out but you put Yoann in, and you've still got Walts on the bench. People that come in have done well and that can only be good for the football team. It means you have competition and you know that when everyone is fit, the Gaffer has got a good squad to pick from." Duguid is understandably disappointed to have picked up an injury, which looks likely to rule him out of the festive period. "I am gutted," he said. "Obviously you want to play every game. I have played every minute of every game so far and that is probably what made me want to go out against Cardiff. It was in my mind all the time. It was my aim to play as many games as possible when I first signed. I didn't train on the Thursday because I felt it a bit but I did the whole session on the Friday, and there was no problem. I jumped for a header and, as I came down, I landed on my left foot and caught the calf. It's football and you get injuries. They have said four to six weeks but we'll just monitor it as it goes. If you are a quick healer, then it might be quicker. We are not going to push it. If you do that, you can end up being out for another few weeks. It is healing well but you might get another setback. It is fine at the moment. I am just walking at the moment and I've been on the bike as well. I can't put any pressure on because that will harm the tear. I am no different to anyone else. I am terrible when I'm injured and I don't think Maxi is going to like me being in there with him. I have never pulled my calf before. The worst injury was my knee and I was out for about 18 months. I had a screw in my knee and they decided to take it out after a year. If they had taken it out after a few months, I would have been back fit. That was the worst time. It is a long time out but you expect to get a four-week injury in a season. If you get through a season without an injury, you've done very well."
Craig Noone is edging closer to his first start for Argyle. Paul Sturrock feels that fitness is the only thing keeping him out of the team and said: "He is quite close to a start and he is bursting for it. He had no pre-season with us and he is all of a sudden playing in the tempo of the Championship, which he has never been close to before. You could see him labouring back the park a couple of times late on in that game in midweek. He was blowing a bit when he came back in."
Shane White has joined Truro City on a month's loan
Paul Sturrock was unable to bolster his squad before the deadline for loan signings at yesterday. Sturrock had wanted to sign a right-back and a central midfielder to increase competition for places. He said: "It would have been nice to have coverage at right-back and in the centre of midfield. I had a real think about things and I did put out feelers for two players but they were knocked back." Sturrock hopes that in the absence of Karl Duguid, one of Yoann Folly and Simon Walton will rise to the challenge. He said: "We have one or two other midfield players and it's really time for them to come to the show. I didn't want to go out and make a panic signing, plus there is the budget to consider too, which is a problem for us at this minute in time." Mat Doumbe has played the last five games at right-back, with David McNamee sidelined and the only other options open to Sturrock are Chris Clark or Jim Paterson. Sturrock said: "Right-back was the key area that I felt we had to do something about, but McNamee is not far away, fingers crossed." Sturrock had mixed thoughts about Doumbe's display against Southampton but, overall, he has been satisfied with his performances. "I have already mentioned to him that his throw-ins could possibly be the worst in the league," he said. "But he was outstanding in the second half the other night. There's an old film called The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – well, that was Mat encapsulated in 90 minutes on Tuesday. But, over the piece, he's growing into the position. I think he would be the first to admit he will never be the best user of the ball, but he makes up for it with the pace he has got, and the way he travels with the ball. He's also starting to relate to his winger now about overlapping him and giving him the ball. You have to remember he's learning the position because he has only played at right-back a few times." Folly will continue to partner Luke Summerfield in the centre of midfield tomorrow. Sturrock said: "In midweek, I thought him and Summers were very disciplined and really worked hard to keep the shape of the team. I know there is more in the laddie, but I think people have seen glimpses over the last couple of games of what I signed him for." Meanwhile, Paul Gallagher and Emile Mpenza are both set to be fit for the visit of Blackpool
Ashley Barnes and Dan Smith have joined Blue Square Premier side Eastbourne Borough on loan until January 3rd. Paul Sturrock said: "They have gone to Eastbourne for a month. I felt it was better that two of them go, rather than one."
Graham Stack has joined Blackpool on a month's loan. He will be on a 24-hour recall and will not be eligible to play in Saturday's game at Home Park
Yoann Folly is hoping Paul Sturrock will give him the opportunity to prove himself in the next few weeks in the absence of Karl Duguid. "I have not started many matches since I joined Argyle, but that is football – you have just got to be patient," he said. "Sometimes you have to wait for your chance to come. I have been waiting patiently and when the chance comes, like it did against Southampton, it is up to me to take it. I just hope I did enough so that I will be picked to play on Saturday against Blackpool. Tuesday night was totally different to the reserve games in which I have been playing in – the pace was so much quicker. You need to try and get up to the pace of the game as quickly as you can. But I think it always takes two or three games to get up to the right pace and to get the fitness going. I would now like to just get a few games under my belt. That will help me fitness-wise and help me be a bit more confident on the ball – it just goes with the game. I would like a run so I can show the manager and the supporters what I can do and what I can bring to the team." Folly feels Argyle's performance at Southampton was worthy of at least a point and believes that if the team continue to work hard, then there is no reason why they cannot maintain their place in or around the play-off positions. "It was a good point for us at Southampton – one we worked really hard for," he said. "We produced a good defensive performance and we kept a clean sheet, which is always good. It is a difficult place to come to because of the way they play, but I think we did really well to come away with a draw. We didn't start as well as we would have liked to in the first half, but we improved in the second half. We were a totally different team and we created some chances as well and that was pleasing. We are trying to get on a run of games and to get some points. We had a good win last Saturday against Cardiff, we got a good point on Tuesday night and then back home against Blackpool on Saturday, we will try and get another good result. Three good results in the space of a week would be really good for the team. We are on a bit of a run now and just off a play-off position. It is important for us to try and keep it going and get as many points as we can because I think it is going to be tight come the end of the season. Two or three wins in a row and you go up and two or three defeats and you can easily go back down. It is important for us to maintain our good results by trying to win as many home matches as we can. At the moment, things are looking good. We just need to try and build on our second half performance from Tuesday night and keep working hard."
Paul Sturrock felt his side's lacklustre first-half performance in the draw at Southampton last night was down to their weekend victory over Cardiff. "I just felt that too many of them thought it was just going to happen tonight after the performance on Saturday, and we nearly paid the penalty for it," he said. "I was very disappointed with our start, and the first-half performance. I think it was after the Lord Mayor's Show - a few of them had a mental problem today. We've just come here and walked out on to the football pitch and forgotten all the things we were good at. We were 30% down on our work-rate in the first half. After rattling a few cages at half-time, we at least made it competitive in the second half. We had several chances. The second half was more like us. We let them dictate large parts of the first half when we should have come here and done what we did in the second half. The team as a whole has done its job defensively; offensively, we allowed them too much space and time on the ball in the first half; second half, we were more in their faces and we stole the ball earlier." Argyle started the game without both goalscorers from the game against Cardiff. Sturrock said: "Emile went over his ankle on Monday. It's getting better but I couldn't afford to take chances. Gall was another one I was taking a chance on, but I was so upset with the first half that I took a chance. That could have backfired on us. I'm hoping Emile, with treatment, will be okay; Gall's come through and said he didn't feel anything; Nooney's needing another lung - he's absolutely gubbed in there. That freshness of the two subs coming on - the positiveness - was a great benefit to the team."
Karl Duguid's calf injury looks set to rule him out until after Christmas, and may force Paul Sturrock into the loan market before the transfer-window closes on Thursday. "Duguid's out between four and six weeks," Sturrock said. "I took a wee chance on him on Saturday after he had a wee niggling knock for two or three days. It will be a blow because he is the captain of the team and has shown an amazing standard of performance for not playing very often in the centre of midfield. We are going to miss him." Yoann Folly and Luke Summerfield combined well against Southampton last night, and Sturrock added: "I thought Yoann and Summers had a very strong game tonight. The two of them, as a pair, were very disciplined in their performance." Asked whether he would be looking to bring players in as cover Sturrock said: "I'm talking to one or two. I'll have to wait to talk to the chairman and the board about it, but we can't leave ourselves short over the six weeks, especially when the transfer-window closes on Thursday. We'll wait and see. We're over budget, pure and simple, so I'll have to get on my prayer-mat and see how that works on the chairman. I'd like to put two or three players out on loan to balance the books, but it's going to be difficult in a two-day span."
Argyle drew 0-0 at Southampton. Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Mackie, Summerfield, Folly, Clark, MacLean, Fallon. Subs – Gallagher, Noone (not used – Walton, Timar, Paterson). Attendance - 14,895
Southampton will be aiming to build on their impressive win at Reading on Saturday and Paul Sturrock expects them to be formidable opponents this evening. He said: "They were exceptional as an attacking team and defended en masse at the end of the game. "It shows you how hard it's going to be for us. Confidence will be oozing out of them because not many people go to Reading and get a result. We know this game is going to be a very difficult one for us, and we have got to be ready for the challenge." Southampton have sold many of their most experienced players in recent months and called upon talented youngsters from their academy. Sturrock said: "As the boy Noone has shown for us, a young player who has a carefree attitude is a dangerous player. We are probably going to have six or seven of them playing against us, who are desperate to do well." Southampton's home record this season is one win, three draws and five defeats, and Sturrock added: "Like us, they have also had problems with their home form and they will be wanting to get back on the rails with it. So it's a very difficult game for us and we have got to approach it in the right way. The approach will be the key to whether we come back with a result or not."
Paul Gallagher believes Argyle sent out a statement of intent to the rest of the Championship with their win over Cardiff City on Saturday. He said: "Everyone was fantastic on Saturday and I think a lot of clubs will sit up and have a look at us now. "They have seen us on TV and will think 'Plymouth are a decent team and have got decent players.' When you have got people like Rory, Emile, Steve MacLean and Chris Clark, you have got to watch them. It's not just a one-man team. It's a team effort. I think people thought we were going to struggle after the Norwich game, but the lads have shown their character and stuck together. We have got that belief and confidence in us now that we can beat anyone we play. Confidence was at a low when we played Norwich and then we just went on an amazing run, and that's what we are trying to do again. Anyone can beat anyone else in this league, as you have seen." Gallagher was recalled for Argyle's win against Cardiff despite being suspended the previous weekend. He said: "I thought I might have been on the bench on Saturday because it's difficult to change a winning team. I want to play every game and it was my own fault for getting a suspension, but I'm back in now, I have scored again and I'm happy again. It has been a good week." Argyle will be aiming for a third consecutive win when they face Southampton, and Gallagher added: "It's going to be a tough game, but our away form has been fantastic this season and, hopefully, that will continue tonight." Gallagher's goalscoring exploits for Argyle have seen him hit the headlines, but it seems as though his future will be away from Blackburn Rovers. He said: "I haven't been happy at Blackburn, and I'm just getting the happiness back and my love for football again. I would probably say I might have to move on, but in football you never know. We will soon find out. I just want to be settled, playing football and enjoying it again, and that's what I'm doing. The manager here has given me the chance to do that, and they are a great bunch of lads and it's a great team spirit, which every player wants to be involved in."
Chris Barker was not surprised to see Emile Mpenza play so well in the win against Cardiff City. He said: "He's training every day and he's getting stronger and fitter. He hasn't played in the Premier League for nothing. He was a big player at Manchester City and, hopefully, he can start doing it for us." Mpenza was released by City at the end of last term and spent the pre-season training on his own. Barker said: "It's so hard if you do miss any of the pre-season because you are so far behind in terms of fitness, and it does take time to catch up. Hopefully, he's getting there. He played well on Saturday." Barker also praised the contribution of Paul Gallagher to Argyle's defeat of Cardiff. "He's a great player and brilliant to have in front of you," he said. "He's always wanting the ball and he creates so much. Many wingers don't like coming back and defending, to be honest, but Gall does do that. He works hard and you can see that in the Pro-Zone stats. He's one of the top two or three who do the most running in a game, and when he's on the ball he can create anything." Argyle are seventh in the table, but Barker is not getting carried away by that. He said: "There is a long way to go. Let's get to 50 points and we will take it from there."
Karl Duguid has been ruled out of the game at Southampton tonight because of a calf injury and Paul Gallagher is also doubtful. Paul Sturrock said: "Karl won't make it and Gallagher is travelling with us because he's close, but if he's not right I won't take any chances on him either. In trying to keep a settled team on Saturday, I gave Duguid his opportunity and, all of a sudden, he's coming off. We will learn from that." Asked about Yoann Folly's chances of being in the starting line-up tonight, Sturrock said: "He has got a reasonable chance, but I have got other options as well. I was happy with Folly on Saturday. I thought he came in and did a very good job. So far, his standards away from home have not been the best – for example, at Ipswich Town last season. He had a big hill to climb after the disappointments of last season, and I think he has worked tirelessly to win my affections. He deserved his opportunity on Saturday after the way he has played for the reserves and, to be fair to him, he grabbed it with both hands." Sturrock has hinted he will try to share the workload around, rather than relying on the same set of players during a busy period. "I'm contemplating one or two other changes tonight because it was a very hard game on Saturday for the whole 90 minutes," he said. "We have got three games in a week and I'm trying to make sure that everybody who plays has got engines." Meanwhile, Sturrock has not ruled out bolstering his squad before the deadline for 'emergency loan' signings on Thursday. He said: "There are one or two areas I would like to make sure we had lots of cover for over Christmas and New Year."
Simon Walton has been included in the Argyle squad for the game at Southampton tonight, due to Karl Duguid's injury. Paul Sturrock said: "Walton is travelling and he is in the squad, and the lad is under the microscope. We have had a lot of discussion over the last few weeks and I have come to a decision about him. It is important now I spend a lot of time on the training ground, and I am going to be scrutinizing his fitness and his weight. We did it at the start of the season and I will be checking it again, and revamping it." Sturrock was given an insight into the Walton conundrum when Manchester United coach, and former Pilgrim, Warren Joyce visited Home Park last week. Joyce was actually checking on the progress of Craig Cathcart but as a former coach of Walton at Leeds, he had some valuable information for Sturrock. "Warren Joyce was his youth coach at Leeds and he marked my card big time on the subject of the boy," he said. "This boy was the British Champion for 400m at 15 years-old. He was as quick, which is hard to believe, as Aaron Lennon. He has had several injuries with his hamstrings and he had a broken leg, and I think we got the bottom end of Walton - there is a lot more to come from him. It is my job now to stand over this boy and remould him, rekindle him. Somebody has to do it. His career is in the embers and ashes at the minute - it is not a raging fire. He has shown from tapes I have watched of him as a young boy that he is an exceptional talent. One other thing is that the high percentage of his career has been at centre-half and he was converted late in his career. He actually played here last season at centre-half for QPR and played very, very well. That gives me another option and string to my bow. We have been revamping a football team and it is very difficult to individualize, but I will be individualizing him now. You don't want to be Simon Walton for the next two months."
Shane White and Ashley Barnes are having a three-day trial with Stevenage Borough, which could lead to the pair joining the Blue Square Premier club on loan
Damien McCrory has taken a break from his loan spell at Port Vale to represent the Republic of Ireland under-19s at a tournament in Malta. McCrory started the first game, a 2-0 win against Malta, on Friday and was an unused substitute when Ireland beat Liechtenstein 1-0 on Sunday
Karl Duguid suffered a recurrence of a calf strain on Saturday, which had ruled him out of training in the build-up to the visit of Cardiff. Paul Sturrock said: "We gave him a fitness test yesterday morning and we thought he would be okay." Yoann Folly came on as a 16th-minute substitute for Duguid and Sturrock added: "I was pleased for Yoann because he has waited a long time for his opportunity. He was very solid in his approach and very workmanlike."
Paul Gallagher hopes to shake off an Achilles injury to play at Southampton tomorrow. "Hopefully, I will be okay for Tuesday," he said. "I had a problem with my Achilles when I went on loan to Preston last season and I had to have an injection in there. Touch wood, it won't be as bad as that. My foot just got trapped under the kid's body when I tackled him near the end, and my Achilles got caught. It's pinching at the minute but, with a bit of treatment, hopefully I can make the Southampton game."
After Yala Bolasie was loaned to Rushden and Diamonds on Friday, Paul Sturrock has confirmed Shane White and Ashley Barnes could also be about to leave Home Park on loan. He said: "It's very important we get out on loan as many of our development players as possible. White and Barnes could be going somewhere on Monday or Tuesday. We have just got to confirm it."
Paul Sturrock was delighted with the patience shown by his team yesterday and now hopes they can take confidence from a vastly improved home display. He said: "Apart from the Wolves game on the first day of the season, when we played very well, it was our best home performance in the first-half. People knew their jobs and I was very, very pleased. I am obviously pleased with the result, which is vitally important to us. Hopefully, the confidence will come oozing back into them now. The players showed the patience that was needed and it was nice to play better than the last couple of games at home. We have shown that we can mix it with the best and we have done it consistently." Emile Mpenza opened the scoring after being earlier denied by the Cardiff goalkeeper. "He could have scored a couple before that, but the goalie's had a couple of decent saves," said Sturrock. "He definitely showed a sharpness that has been missing in his game and a willingness to run, which I am pleased about, and he linked up very well with the rest of the team." Gallagher's performance was equally influential and justified Sturrock's decision to bring him back into the team after a suspension. Sturrock said: "There was a lot of thought because the team had done very well, but he is our top goalscorer, and he creates things for other players as well. Everybody seems to think we played 4-3-3 but, to be fair to Gall, he drifted into the right areas and caused a lot of concern to the Cardiff back four because they couldn't really get to him. We had a discussion about it and did some work on it the other day, just to make sure he knew his job. He is a good player and we have given him a bit of a license to play. He has handled that very well and he has been very thoughtful, tactically, when the other team has the ball. He is a very thoughtful player on the ball and the rest of the players responded to that, and gave him a lot of ball." Gallagher limped off with 15 minutes remaining, and Sturrock added: "He has got his foot under ice and we won't know until tomorrow, or even Monday. Now, the food for thought is how ready he will be for Tuesday and will we freshen things up?" Yoann Folly was also singled out for praise after he came on as an early replacement for the injured Karl Duguid. "I am also pleased for Yoann Folly because he has waited a long time for his opportunity and he was very solid in his approach, very workmanlike, and I was pleased with his contribution," said Sturrock. "Karl has got a calf strain that he had the other day. He missed a couple of days of training and we gave him a fitness test yesterday morning, and we thought he would be ok. He jumped for the ball early on and went over on his ankle." Despite all the positives, Argyle still had to cling on to the three points. "It was the usual Argyle - hang on to what we've got - and it could have cost us dear," said Sturrock. "Second half, we have got to give credit to Cardiff. They came out and bossed the game, and changed their system. They brought Chopra back a bit deeper, which caused us a lot of concern. We were claiming their goal was offside, but that's football. They are a good side and they had a few boys missing today. They have got players who have played in the Premier League and players aspiring to play in the Premier League, and they were a very hard nut to crack."
Paul Gallagher marked his return from suspension with the vital second goal in the 2-1 win over Cardiff City. Gallagher also picked up the PFA Fans' Player of the Month award for October. "I am thrilled to bits," he said. "Playing football gets you rewards like this and all I can say is thanks a lot to the fans for voting and it will be on my mantelpiece tonight. If you ask any footballer and they are not playing in the team they can play in, and they're not getting a fair chance to play, you lose that little bit of hunger, which you should never lose. I wasn't playing. I was going to training knowing that I wasn't playing at the weekend, and it gets in your head. You start feeling sorry for yourself. I was grumpy around the house. Since I came here, I have got that hunger and happiness back, and I'm thrilled to be playing football again. Gallagher admitted he was a little surprised to win his place back after missing the victory at Coventry. "Football is a funny thing," he said. "I always think that you should never change a winning team and I had that in my mind. The manager's put me back in and I repaid him with a goal." Chris Clark played a big part in Gallagher's goal, deceiving Cardiff 'keeper Tom Heaton with a deep cross. Gallagher said: "I thought he was going to stand it up at the back post because their right-back wasn't the tallest. As he's played it, I saw the 'keeper struggling and thought I'd take a gamble, and, thankfully, it dropped for me. As a striker, you need to be in front of the defenders to score goals. I didn't know what to do really with the celebration. I put it in with my studs, and I got carried away. Scoring goals is the best feeling in the world and I want to score more." Emile Mpenza had given Argyle the lead two minutes earlier and Gallagher was full of praise for the way he combined with Rory Fallon. "Those two worked really hard and we have got Steve MacLean, who has got that touch of class about him," he said. "Emile played really well today. He has vision and awareness, and he showed that grit with his goal when a lot of people would have given up." The win lifted Argyle to seventh in the table, and Gallagher added: "When I first came, I spoke to the manager and I liked what he had to say, although, after the Norwich game, I thought 'what have I done?'. Ever since, we have been on a tremendous run. We've got that team-spirit back and lifted confidence, and all the boys are shining. Every club needs team-spirit. We all get on fantastic and do things together. You need that in any football club and we have got it in abundance here." The only downside for Gallagher was the bruised foot that saw him limp out of the game with 15 minutes remaining, and makes him a doubt for Tuesday's trip to Southampton. He said: "I did it against Charlton as well. I've got a whack on the top of the foot and it is badly bruised. I caught it again today and, touch wood, it is not serious. Our away form is probably one of the best in the league and, if we can get something at Southampton, and then beat Blackpool here, we will be right in there."
Argyle beat Cardiff City 2-1 at Home Park, the goals scored by Emile Mpenza after 39 minutes and Paul Gallagher (41). Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Clark, Summerfield, Duguid, Gallagher, Fallon, Mpenza. Subs – Mackie, Folly, MacLean (not used – Noone, Paterson). Attendance - 11,438
Argyle will be seeking their first home win in three attempts when they take on Cardiff City today. Paul Sturrock said: "I'm looking forward to the game, for the simple reason that the quicker we can sort out our problems at home the better. Cardiff are a good quality team and have got a great bench, which I think will enable them to be a top six side all season. They have taken Routledge this week, so when they have a problem they go out and get real quality to come in – people who have played in the Premier League. They have an exciting squad of players, and although I think the injuries to Ledley and Whittingham will be a blow to them, they have Paul Parry and Routledge to fill the holes. Dave Jones is an excellent manager and he's always there or thereabouts. To get Cardiff to the FA Cup final last season was a great achievement, and I do feel he will get the best of his troops this year, but hopefully not today." Sturrock insisted the earlier kick-off was not too much of a problem to cope with. He said: "We just move everything forward a wee touch."
Craig Noone has been tipped for Premier League stardom by his former manager at Southport manager, Liam Watson. He said: "I'm staggered nobody up here in the North West signed Craig. He's going to be a big star and will play in the Premier League. He's a terrific character but has what I call the X Factor – a rare ability to make something happen in a game."
Yala Bolasie has joined Rushden and Diamonds, the club he started his career with, on loan until January 3rd. Bolasie was also offered the chance to sign for Austrian First Division club Sturm Graz, as well as Hoffenheim from the German Bundesliga
Paul Gallagher is expected to be recalled when Argyle play Cardiff City tomorrow. Paul Sturrock has several options to consider and said: "Yes, it's a dilemma because there are certain people in the team who haven't let themselves down in any way." Argyle's last game at Home Park was the 2-2 draw with Charlton Athletic on November 8th, when Gallagher played wide on the left of midfield. However, Gallagher was not an influence on the match until he was moved into a more central position in the closing stages. Sturrock said: "He has played more games on the left than he has at centre-forward in this league, so he has got that in his armoury. But we don't seem to get the ball to him enough when he does play there. The one that has disappointed me a wee bit is that his best performances have probably been away from home. I think it's when we have been away from home, other teams have sat back and given us that 10 yards which he lives in. But when we are at home they play further up the pitch." Emile Mpenza made his first start for Argyle against Coventry last week. When asked whether it would be unfair on Mpenza to leave him out of the side against Cardiff, Sturrock said: "Was it unfair to take Steve MacLean out last week? You have to take into account the opposition, style of play and different centre-backs. Sometimes you have just got to go with your gut feeling on the right pairing. I thought Emile was the right person to play last Saturday, and he didn't let me down in any way. He was actually much sharper than he has shown in the past. His linkage was the best on the pitch so he came to the show a wee bit. Do I keep him in because of that, or do I bring back my top goalscorer, or do I try to accommodate Emile and my top goal scorer, and MacLean maybe, and Rory maybe and Mackie maybe? We are going over ground that is going to be decided over the next 24 hours." Sturrock said last week he was considering playing a more attack-minded formation for home games and seems intent on carrying that out. He said: "That's what is in my thoughts at this minute in time. We have to come up with something that is going to win us a good percentage of our games at home. Away from home, it's potential championship-winning form. The problem is our home form has been very erratic. It's important we try to get a settled formula that enables us to win football games here."
Craig Cathcart has returned unscathed from international duty this week. Northern Ireland under-21s victory over Scotland was televised on Sky and Paul Sturrock was among the viewers. He said: "I cringed when he made the last three tackles, but he trained yesterday morning with no reaction. I watched the whole game and he was very competent – and he was captain as well." Krisztian Timar could return to the Argyle squad tomorrow after missing the last two matches because of a medial knee ligament injury. Sturrock said: "Krisztian has come back in and trained. He has done some ball work yesterday, so we will wait and see how he is." Sturrock also revealed that Chris Barker and Emile Mpenza had dropped out of training on Tuesday because of slight injuries, but both took part in yesterday's session. However, another player is still nursing an injury from training on Tuesday, although Sturrock would not name him. "I would rather keep that to myself," he said. "Emile and Chris Barker had niggles earlier in the week but have come back into training."
Marcel Seip hopes to celebrate signing a contract extension with a win against Cardiff City tomorrow. Seip, who could have chosen not to re-sign with Argyle and leave on a free transfer next summer, said: "I'm happy to have signed for another two years. I have got a little bit more security now." The contract extension does not guarantee that Seip will remain at Home Park until 2011, however, and he said: "The way I see it, if a club wants you it doesn't matter if you have got two years on his contract or none left. If you just keep playing well, they are going to come in for you anyway. I'm not worried they are going to hold off. If they really want me, they won't mind paying some money to Argyle, which would be good for the club." For the time being, Seip is excited about Argyle continuing their development in the Championship. He said: "Every year is probably going to be the same with Argyle, with people not knowing what to expect because, in the end, we are not the richest club in this division. We are doing well this season and we are only three points away from the play-offs positions, so you don't know where it's going to lead. If we go on a good run again, then we will be right up there." Seip admitted he was settled in Plymouth and said: "I like the town and my girlfriend is from here. I love it here to be honest." Asked how he saw his long-term future, he added: "You never know. I stayed at my former club for five years. I'm 26 and this is only my third club so it's not like I'm one of those players who moves after one year." Seip's pairing with Craig Cathcart has been one of the most impressive aspects of this season for Argyle. Seip said: "You have to know each other – it was the same last season when I played a lot with Krisztian. After a while, you get to recognise the strengths of each other's game and then you can build a good partnership. He's only 19 and he's already a good player. If he can be consistent I think he has got a nice future ahead of him." Argyle's last two home games have ended in a defeat and a draw so Seip hopes they will fare better when they take on Cardiff. But he said: "If we are not on top of our game, in this division you are not going to win. We just have to look at our own game and hope we can do well. I think we have to do better at home. We have struggled at home, but away we have picked up so many points."
Jermaine Easter has joined Colchester United on loan. Easter had been on loan at Millwall but his first-team chances became limited so Argyle invoked a 24-hour recall clause to bring him back to Home Park, before he joined Colchester until the New Year
Michael Dunford has said that Argyle will be watching closely home supporters response to the reduced rate pricing for Saturday's game with Cardiff City. "The board is always amenable when it comes to making games at this football club affordable to fans," he said. "But we have to be realistic and fair to all our supporters, including season ticket holders, at the same time. On the pitch, our team are in the top 10 in the Championship. But unfortunately we're in the bottom three in terms of home support. Obviously, we're hoping Saturday's admission pricing will give us a gate better than 11,000. But these are difficult economic times, we know that. And when Argyle fans are facing two home games in week, it's difficult for them to spread the cost. We understand that, so that's why we've made every effort to make Saturday's game more affordable. But we couldn't afford to repeat the level of Saturday's price cuts – it just wouldn't be feasible economically and it would devalue our season ticket policy. Next week against Blackpool we've made an offer to season ticket holders, where they can buy one extra ticket and get the other one free. We're doing our best, but it's a tough time, despite our club doing well in the league. For the Cardiff game, because it's on TV and we're the home team, we will get £60,000 compensation for loss of revenue. The bottom line, though, is we're trying to compete against clubs with twice our level of support. The level of our home support is a concern rather than a worry to us."
Argyle Reserves lost 5-0 at Bristol City in last night's Combination Cup game. The result means Argyle cannot now qualify for the semi-final stage. David McNamee went off injured in the first half. Argyle: Stack, McNamee, White, Sawyer, Paterson, Marin, Folly, Walton, Bolasie, Smith, Barnes. Subs – Brett, Mason
Craig Cathcart is viewed as a 'hot prospect' by Manchester United, according to Mark Sullivan, a Plymouth-born reporter and presenter for United's television channel, MUTV. Sullivan said: "Sir Alex Ferguson will always keep tabs on all of his loan players. He's really good like that. Even if they are away on a season-long loan, the manager always keeps informed on how everybody is doing. I know from what the coaching staff and people say in Manchester that they all feel Craig has got a really bright future in the game. He's definitely a hot prospect, so tabs will always be kept on him. United are delighted Craig is down here and doing well. I know there have been good links with Argyle in recent seasons, with Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Lee Martin. It's nice for United to have a club where they can send someone and trust he will be looked after in the right way and given a chance. I think that is what Craig has got here at Argyle." Cathcart's loan to Argyle takes him through until January, when Sturrock is expected to try to extend it for the rest of the season
Craig Cathcart played for Northern Ireland under-21's in their 3-1 win over Scotland under-21 last night
Chris Clark has highlighted the importance of teamwork behind Argyle's successful start to the season and believes everyone in the side at Coventry on Saturday played their part in the win. He said: "I think it was all credit to the full team. Obviously, Nooney deserves so much credit for his goal. But we have done it so often now where we have defended really well, kept our discipline and come away with a good win. The game opened up. Coventry were pushing on again and I think you are going to get chances when you are away from home to hit them on the counter attack. The chances were there for us, and it was good to see the players who came on did so well. It was a real team performance. Coventry put us under a lot of pressure to begin with, but I think we dealt with it well. They didn't create too many clearcut chances. We got more into the game as it went on and it wasn't surprising when we scored." Argyle's defence meant Romain Larrieu was rarely tested and Clark thinks the credit for that should be shared around. He said: "When you are defending it starts with Rory and Emile when they are up front. Obviously, the defenders have got a lot to do – headers to win, tackles to win – but that goes right across the midfield and the forwards. That's how we are doing so well." Craig Noone's goal was his first for Argyle and Clark said: "He's left-footed but he comes inside as well. He likes to go at people and he's quick. Everyone was pleased for him. He trains really well and it was good to see him scoring." Emile Mpenza made his first start for Argyle against Coventry and Clark added: "I think Emile did well, although he tired towards the end. Steven MacLean did so well in the previous two games and it was probably hard on him not to be in the team. But he came on and did well. It shows we have got players in the squad who can come in and fit in well. We work together. Emile is experienced and has got good movement, actually." Clark spent most of the game against Coventry concentrating on defending, rather than attacking and getting in crosses. That was because City right-back Isaac Osbourne was pushing forward so often. Clark said: "Sometimes it's just the way game goes. Jamie (Mackie) was probably getting more of the ball than me. The previous week against Charlton, I was getting more of the ball. It just depends how the opposition set up and if you can do a job defensively, which I have enjoyed doing. If you can stop the other team playing, it's part of playing in the midfield."
Paul Sturrock believes Jason Puncheon is better off getting regular first-team football with MK Dons rather than playing for Argyle's reserves. He said: "We are over the top with wingers as well, with Noone, Marin, Smith and Bolasie. They can't all play at the same time, so it's very difficult to get match fitness. With Punch, it's on a 24-hour recall and, basically, he's better off playing football games than not playing." Asked whether there had been any talks over a possible permanent move for Puncheon, Sturrock said: "No, that's not an issue at the minute." Puncheon is one of three Argyle players currently out on loan, the other two being Jermaine Easter and Damien McCrory. Sturrock said: "We have had the three of them watched once, and we are having them watched again in the next two weeks, so I'm getting assessments back. Punch is supposed to have done quite well, but Jermaine has been unfortunate. He got himself sent off and missed three games and hasn't been able to get back in the team again. That's not great for him, but I think the boy McCrory has played every game so far. They are very pleased with him."
Paul Sturrock hopes Simon Walton can now fully focus on improving his form after turning down the chance to join Crewe Alexandra on loan he. "I appreciate the situation with Simon," said Sturrock. "He has just had a baby and his partner is going to move down here, and then he travels away to Crewe. I had to give him the option because of the lack of games and people are fighting for match practice. He wants to fight for his place and there is a learning curve for him." Sturrock believes some of the problems Walton has endured in his career stem from his early start in the Leeds United first-team as a 17-year-old. "There are things in his game and a naivety to his game, which has been generated by being in the first-team too early," Sturrock said."The backbone of his upbringing and development has been missed, and that is where he stands at this minute. I am totally committed to turning his head to the things I need for him to do for the team. We had a chat after discussing the Crewe scenario and we are starting tomorrow with the reserve game at Bristol City."
Krisztian Timar has been ruled out of Hungary's squad for a friendly against Northern Ireland in Belfast tomorrow by a knee ligament injury
Paul Sturrock has been pleased with the progress of Gary Sawyer on his return to training following a long-term hamstring injury. Sturrock said: "Gary has missed near enough the whole season, so it's very difficult for him, all of a sudden, to be up and running. But I do feel he's progressing every day I watch him."
Karl Duguid has adjusted to life in midfield seamlessly and Paul Sturrock is delighted with the progress made by the man he named as the new Argyle captain on his debut. "He is a six or seven out of ten every week and they are invaluable," he said. "It is not very often you can say Doogie has had a bad game. He is always there and he and Clarky have been very consistent performers. The other type players can be hot and cold, but those two have been a steadying influence to the team. He has got a goal threat to him as well. He has a great engine and has settled into centre-midfield, where he has not played on a regular occurrence before. If you were to watch a game now, you wouldn't think he was a stranger to the position. He has been very settled in there."
Paul Gallagher missed the weekend win at Coventry through suspension and with Emile Mpenza, Rory Fallon and Steve MacLean all in form Paul Sturrock has a big decision to make before the game against Cardiff. He said: "The kind of quality player that Gallagher is means you always miss him because he has got the attributes to benefit the team. Now, the decision-making is whether or not we bring him back this Saturday and there is a lot of deliberating to be done. Steve was excellent when he came on and really, really helped us for the last 15 minutes, when he kept the ball and ran into channels. I had a long chat with him today and he is showing the right determination and attitude. All we need now is the icing on the cake with the goals that are in him. We have some permutations now and trying to keep everybody happy is very difficult because they all feel that they should be in the team."
Marcel Seip has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Home Park until 2011. Paul Sturrock said: "Marcel has signed a new contract with the club and everybody is very pleased. His standard of performance this season has been excellent and you don't want to lose that type of player. He wanted to stay here. There was the haggling with the agents, as there always is, but we have come to terms now and we are very pleased everything has worked out. Last year, the scenario at the end of the season didn't really help things but he has come to the show. He has worked very hard at his game and his partnership with Cathcart has been excellent. He has adapted to the whole scenario and, if you were look back on the last eight games, he would be one of your top three performers." Next on the list for contract talks is Rory Fallon. "This is a start and it is vitally important," Sturrock added. "I am now having a chat with Rory and we are in negotiations with him and his agent. Rory has been very important as well and we want to sort something out with him very quickly. We will then look down the list at the other players."
Jason Puncheon's loan spell with MK Dons has been extended until the end of December
Craig Noone's celebrations continued this morning as he toasted his 21st birthday after scoring the winner at Coventry. "I was absolutely delighted," he said. "I got the ball towards the outside from Marcel's through-ball. I went round the defender, cut inside, went to shoot, then cut inside again, hit it with my right foot and was lucky enough to beat the keeper. I was over the moon. I didn't know what to do, to be honest. I've no idea what was going through my head. I just ran away in shock. I couldn't have asked for it at a better time, really, what with my birthday. It was the best present I could have possibly got. It was totally unbelievable and a few people have said that it was meant to happen." Noone was originally brought to the club as development player, but has certainly made his mark. Yet he is happy to learn from his manager in his bid to become an even better player. He said: "As the gaffer said, I've certainly got a long way to go. I know he said I gave away a good four fouls in the time I was on, so I need to work on that part of my game. In the meantime, I'll just continue to work hard and hopefully get in the team again. About four months ago, I was still working on the roofs, but now I'm down in Plymouth, away from Liverpool, so I can just concentrate on my football."
The defeat of Coventry on Saturday was typical of many away wins during Paul Sturrock's time as Argyle manager. Asked about his assessment of the victory, Sturrock said: "Very honest and hard working. We had a good shape and did all the right things. This squad of players roll their sleeves up and give everything they have got. That's the kind of team we are, and it wins football games. We have had one or two poor performances away from home – as well as some decent ones – but I wouldn't have said this was a poor one. We created several chances in the game and our goalkeeper only had to make one save in the 90 minutes. There was a lot of pressure on us, obviously, because we sat back, but the substitutions definitely turned the game." Craig Noone was sent on in the 68th minute for Jamie Mackie, and Steve MacLean replaced Emile Mpenza soon afterwards. Sturrock said: "I thought Steve MacLean was fantastic when he came on. He did all the right things. That's what we are. We are a squad of players. If we get it right, they work their tails off and they get results." Mpenza made his first start for Argyle against Coventry and Sturrock added: "I thought Emile showed all the touches. He never gave the ball away, he had a shot in the first half and he linked us up. I think there is a lot more to come, but I was pleased with him." Rory Fallon finished the game with his head heavily bandaged after a collision with Scott Dann in the closing stages. Sturrock said: "Rory did some good work in our box and their box. He does a lot of dropping back into the hole, and it's quite exciting now because we have got Gallagher to come back. So there is a lot of pressure on people in the team to perform so that they keep their place, and Rory is one of them. I would like to have another player of Rory's ilk. He's about 6ft 3 at the minute, but at this rate he will be 5ft 7 by the end of the season!" Sturrock admitted Argyle had been rocked back by a fast start from Coventry. He said: "I thought they were very lively early on in the game, and if they had got a goal then we could have had problems. But the longer it went on the more jittery they became and the crowd got edgy as well. We are hard working – we are not pretty. And I would rather be hard working than pretty."
Simon Walton has turned down a loan move to Crewe Alexandra. Argyle had agreed a temporary move, but Walton chose to stay at Home Park. Crewe manager Steve Holland said: "We tried to sign Walton from Plymouth, but he decided that he didn't want to come here. Plymouth were happy for him to come, but Simon decided against it."
Craig Noone did not see his winning goal against Coventry hit the back of the net. He said: "All I was thinking about was going towards the goal. I went past the right-back and went to shoot, but then cut inside. It came onto my right foot and I just thought, 'Hit it'. I didn't see it go in the net, I just heard everyone shouting and screaming. It was amazing." Noone had two other chances to extend Argyle's lead in stoppage time, but could not convert either of them. He added: "I got a bit of stick off the lads for that, but they are all made up for me."
Argyle's under-18's won 3-1 at Oxford United on Saturday, the goals scored by Matt Rickard, Liam Head and Joe Mason. Argyle: Brooks, Leonard, Brett, McCaul, Hodgkinson, Gerring, Edwards, Moseley, Head, Mason, Grant. Subs - Sawyer, Young, Rickard (not used - Trott, Troupe)
Craig Noone had an eventful game at Coventry yesterday, scoring the winner, wasting two other chances - including in front of an open goal in injury-time - and getting stuck into a few tackles. "Nothing fazes the laddie at the moment," said Paul Sturrock, "but he's had four fouls so he doesn't understand that side of the game - you've got to let people like that loose and let them get on with it. He drove down the outside, put crosses into the box, and that's an important thing for us. I've watched him in the reserves and he does have that. Andy King went and watched a game because somebody had recommended somebody else, and this wee laddie kept catching his eye. He came back enthusing about this boy, raving about him. I went with Andy's thoughts. Next minute, he's playing in the Championship, so it's kind of a fairytale story. His first question to a friend of mine that he was staying with was: 'Do we get actually get paid in the close season?' It's unbelievable: he's gone from being a tiler, getting up at 7 o'clock in the morning, to having six weeks off in the summer and getting paid for it. We're very pleased for him. He's a hard-working boy, desperate to do well. Nooney will find his level. Whether it's this level is in the lap of the gods. He's got to work and work and work. But he always seems to come to the Show. He always seems to want the ball and get into exciting areas for you. Long may it last."
Paul Sturrock praised Luke Summerfield for his influential part in the victory over Coventry. "Luke gets a lot of chastisement at Home Park but, away from home, he's been excellent for us this season," he said. "He's going to have good and bad games because he's young. I think people have to respect that he's in development. We are moulding him and I think he is going to be an excellent player for us. He's got a lot of pressure. There's a lot of people who are critical of him at home and that preys on his mind. Anybody coming off a football pitch to jeers...it can't help him. That's disappointed me. We've got a good player who's on the up and up, and we've got to keep working on him."
Argyle won 1-0 at Coventry City, the goal scored by Craig Noone after 87 minutes. Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Clark, Summerfield, Duguid, Mackie, Fallon, Mpenza. Subs – MacLean, Noone (not used – Folly, Paterson, Marin). Attendance - 18,528
Romain Larrieu is getting 'better and better', according to Kevin Summerfield. Larrieu has successfully battled against cancer over the past couple of seasons and Summerfield said: "I wasn't here when Ro was first diagnosed and he had to go through all the problems. I think Ollie and the rest of the guys got right behind him. His health is of paramount importance. He had a lot of help from the football club, as he did when there was a repeat scenario just after we came back. He's a quiet guy, especially for a goalkeeper, and he just gets on and does his job. He appreciates being here and what we do for him, and I think the guys who have been here since 2000 appreciate what he has done for the football club. He's not one iota of a problem at all." Larrieu has made a total of 225 appearances for Argyle since arriving in 2000 and Summerfield continued: "We have asked him to do a few more things in terms of his game lately. He has always been one who seems to grow once he has played three or four games. There were a couple of things early on this season but everybody makes mistakes and goalkeepers are no different. He has done really well for us and he's getting better and better." Meanwhile, Summerfield insisted Argyle had prepared as best they could for the trip to Coventry despite the wet weather this week. He said: "The weather conditions were horrendous. There was laying water on the pitch. We didn't do the coaching we would normally do on a Thursday because people end up standing about, and it was the last day you wouldn't have wanted them standing around. So what we decided to do was make the most of it, get them out and make sure every one of them on the training pitch was working all the time. We probably cut the session down by about 20 minutes or half-an-hour."
Argyle's away form this season has been a huge success and Kevin Summerfield believes there is a different type of team spirit when they travel away. "We enjoy the camaraderie we get when we go away from home," he said. "The way we play the game probably suits away form better than home and it is something we have got to address. We have tried to change a few things in recent games but we still need to be better at home. We appreciate that and we are working on it. We are a decent away team. Nobody will ever run over the top of us and we will go there full of confidence. We have got to deal with whatever the other team puts out, whether they are playing well or indifferent. It is up to us to play as well as we can to get the result that we need. However they come out, we have just got to deal with it. We are expecting them to come out firing, just like Sheffield United - they play the same way and it will be a really tough game. Coventry played really well against Birmingham and they probably epitomize the league as much as anybody in that mid-section. If you take the top four out and the bottom four, everybody wins one then loses one. You could probably lump together about 18 teams in the bracket of playing really well one week and struggling the next. In certain places you go, you know that crowd can become fickle but I wouldn't know whether that would be the case at Coventry. Their fan-base has always seemed to be really good in the times I have gone there, although, to be fair, they've always beaten us."
Argyle must overcome the absence of the suspended Paul Gallagher when they take on Coventry City tomorrow. Kevin Summerfield admitted Gallagher had been hugely influential since arriving from Blackburn but insisted it was an opportunity for whoever replaced him to become a regular in the first team. Summerfield said: "Until we turn out tomorrow, I don't think we will know how much we are going to miss him. Hopefully, after the game, we can say we haven't missed him at all. It's up to whoever comes in and takes Gall's place to produce a performance. To be fair, he has been really influential since he has been here. He's a terrific lad and is great in the dressing room. He has got an unbelievable work ethic and he will be missed because he's a character as well." Summerfield stood in for Paul Sturrock at the pre-match Press conference because the manager was recovering from a procedure to remove an ingrowing toenail. Summerfield would not be drawn on whether Emile Mpenza would make the starting line-up tomorrow. "We haven't decided the team yet," he said. "Paul wasn't in yesterday because of his injury problem. He has got an ingrowing toenail. Well, he had an ingrowing toenail. He hasn't got it any more! Emile has come on and scored a goal last weekend. We have got to come up with a team that we think is going to do best in the game." Coventry lost 2-0 to Crystal Palace last Saturday and Summerfield added: "We have got to deal with whatever the other team put out. Whether they are playing well, whether they are playing indifferently or whatever, it's up to us to play as well as we can to get the result we need. However they come out, we have just got to deal with it, but we are expecting them to come out firing. We think it will be a really tough game." Coventry's defeat by Palace came only five days after an impressive 1-0 win at Birmingham City. "They probably epitomise this league as much as anybody," said Summerfield. "If you take the top four or five out and the bottom four or five out, everybody else wins one and loses one."
Argyle will be short of defensive cover against Coventry tomorrow because Krisztian Timar and David McNamee are both set to be unavailable. Timar is still sidelined by a knee ligament injury, which ruled him out of last Saturday and McNamee will be absent because of a non-injury related issue. Kevin Summerfield said: "Krisztian has had a knee ligament strain since last week and hasn't trained with us. Unless he goes to Lourdes overnight, I don't think he will come into consideration – but you never know. David has been unable to train with us this week. He has got an issue that he's having to deal with back up in Coventry. He has been up there for the last few days." Summerfield would not comment any further on McNamee's unavailability and added: "He hasn't trained with us since the game against Sheffield United, so you can take it he will not be involved."
Emile Mpenza does not speak much English, but spoke to the media yesterday courtesy of the translation skills of Romain Larrieu. He said: "I hope to start against Coventry because I have scored a goal now. I had expected to have given a lot more than I have, so I want to show to everyone what I can actually do." Mpenza's equaliser against Charlton came in the fourth minute of stoppage time, and he said: "I really enjoyed that moment because it hasn't been easy for me since I came to the club. I haven't had many opportunities to play, and to get a goal has given me an extra bit of confidence." When Mpenza arrived at Home Park he was short of full fitness and then was briefly sidelined by a knee injury. Mpenza admitted the past couple of months had been very frustrating for him and said: "It's true, it has not been easy at all. I didn't expect this kind of situation, but I have kept going. I hope my opportunity is going to come very soon now." Mpenza has been impressed with the standard of the Championship, but thought it was more physically demanding than the Premier League. He said: "You need to be fitter because not so much time is spent trying to build up the play. You get a few passes in the Premier League, but here it's a frantic pace." Mpenza's knee injury flared up after he played as a substitute at Derby County on October 18. He was not involved in the next four matches, and said: "I was trying to get in as much training as I could to catch up and I think the knee injury flared up for that reason." Even though Mpenza has struggled to make an impact at Argyle, he has still enjoyed the experience of being at Home Park. He said: "The only aim in my life is to play football. I have played higher up before, but you are always learning and I take every day as it comes."
Training has been a victim of the weather at Argyle this week. Torrential rain has rendered Harper's Park barely playable and the coaching staff have been at pains to avoid players standing around in the cold. Kevin Summerfield said: "It makes a difference to what we do when it is horrendous because you won't do the normal things you would do on a Thursday. People would end up standing about and it was the last day in the world when you would want to stand about. We made the most of it and made sure everyone on the training pitch was working all the time."
Paul Sturrock is considering selecting different line-ups for home and away matches after growing increasingly concerned at his teams inconsistent home form this season. He said: "The problem I have at the moment is solving the difference between our home form and our away form. We seem much more comfortable away from home. That is due in part to our not being what you would call the greatest offensive team. And when you're at home, you have to take the initiative to go forward. So it's coming around to me contemplating having two different teams again. That would mean three or four personnel changes for when we're home or away. I'd love not to do that, but it's starting to rear its ugly head that I'm going to have to do something along those lines. That would mean me putting out more offensive-type players at home. We've had some very good results away from home. But when we bring these players back we find they're better suited to defending than being offensive. So, that's something I'm going to have to look into. We've got two weeks now and obviously we're working on what we're going to do away from home. I'm going to start looking at structuring things and getting ideas in people's minds about what we're looking for at home. But I'm very close to coming up with this." Sturrock also believes supporters' displays of frustrations with Argyle personnel at home is in marked contrast to the support of the team on the road. "We've got to be positive in our approach – I think everybody was disappointed at how things transpired on Saturday," he added. "And that draw probably felt like a defeat to the fans – it was the worst sort of scenario. This season the away fan-base has been fantastic and to be fair, the home fans were very good on Saturday. But I think that some of the individual abuse the players have taken is not helpful. To cheer when one player is taken off – whether you have an opinion or not – is, I believe, unacceptable."
Paul Sturrock has responded to criticism about his use of substitutes this season. He said: "I have had many letters lately about certain aspects of management, especially substitutions, and this interests me. I'm delighted to get the letters I get because, at the end of the day, fans pay their money and should have a say. As far as substitutions are concerned, if you are 1-0 up with eight minutes to go, you don't put the subs on and you lose two goals, people say in hindsight 'you should have put the subs on.' If you are 1-0 up with eight minutes to go, you put the subs on and we lose two goals, people say in hindsight 'what did you put the subs on for?' Basically, I think people have got to understand that managers are between a rock and a hard place. Fans have the huge benefit of being able to make decisions at the end of a football game, where managers have got to make decisions through a football game. If there was one game, maybe, where I should have given some more time to one or two players, it was Sheffield Wednesday at home when we were 3-0 up. What I would say to people is keep the letters coming because I enjoy reading the comments." Sturrock also admitted there had been criticism from fans in the Mayflower during the game against Charlton. Near the end, there seemed to be angry exchanges between the coaching staff and some supporters. Sturrock said: "I didn't see that because I was watching the football pitch. But there was a lot of derogatory remarks going on behind me, which has been there for a long time. Even from the last time I was here. The last time I let loose on a couple, and I promised myself not to do that this season. Again, people pay their money and they can opinionate as much as they want. But there is one thing I will say. My coaching staff are allowed to opinionate as well, and I think that's important for supporters to appreciate. It's not just a one-way street here. If you want to give vent to your frustrations and everything else, my staff who are standing there should be given the right of reply. At times, even I might turn round and give a retort for the simple reason it's a two-way street. I think there are too many fans at times who vent their frustrations and feel they shouldn't get anything back. They should be appreciative that it's an emotional game. We are hyped up because it's our livelihoods and they are hyped up because it's the love of their team."
Paul Sturrock had to abandon his training plans due to horrendous weather conditions yesterday and the planned reserve game at Bournemouth also fell victim. Sturrock said: "We took the first-team out to relax and regenerate, and for the rest to get some tempo back in the gym. I was hoping to work individually with some of the players who haven't played today but that was taken away from me. I have got a lot of individual stuff planned out, even with the ones who played on Saturday, and, hopefully, the weather won't affect us. It would be nice to get out on a grass pitch." The weather once again raised the question of a new training ground, although Sturrock conceded that no grass pitch would have been playable after such a huge amount of rainfall. The other thing on his agenda today did go ahead, and the subject of an all-weather pitch was part of the monthly Board meeting. He said: "A training ground would make no difference to the weather - all pitches would have been off today. We are working very hard and it was discussed today in the board meeting. We have got to move with the times and go in the right direction as far as the football team is concerned. An all-weather pitch would be a great benefit and there is a lot of work going in. The important thing is to get it on the tracks. We have got to find somewhere and push and push to get it. The training ground is as important as the football pitch. You have got to have all the facilities in this day and age. A lot of teams in the Championship have got real top-drawer facilities. They have been in the Premiership and spent their money wisely. We haven't been in that scenario, so we have to beg, steal and borrow, and try to go in the right direction."
Damien McCrory has had his loan spell at Port Vale extended until December 31. Paul Sturrock believes it is invaluable experience for him, and said: I have got no problems about him staying there. I always wanted him out for three months anyway. He's proving me totally right in that it's a great benefit for young players to go out on loan. They have been giving him rave notices in several positions and I think he will be a more rounded player when he comes back."
Paul Sturrock is sure that his players will rise to the challenge of coping without Paul Gallagher at Coventry this Saturday. With Gallagher serving a suspension Sturrock said: "It's a blow, but it will give somebody else an opportunity. The essence of life now is to make sure that Gallagher does not play again until the end of the season. It's that kind of scenario."Sturrock will consider Emile Mpenza's claim to be on the pitch after his equaliser against Charlton. Sturrock said: "He has been waiting for his chance for a long time, and he was in the right place at the right time. He seems to be that kind of player. He's a penalty-box player, and maybe that's something we're missing at the moment." Steve MacLean may have done enough to keep his place and Sturrock added: "Steve has come back into the fold and has grabbed his chance. That's what I'm looking for."
Argyle's FA Youth Cup third round tie against Fulham will take place at Home Park on December 2nd
Paul Sturrock has called on Simon Walton to start showing what he is capable of. Walton became a father for the first time on Friday, when his partner Nicola gave birth to a baby daughter, Poppy. Sturrock said: "It's a big thing, your first kid. I told him to stay up there at the weekend and then he was going to travel to Bournemouth to play for the reserves. Walts is going to have to come to the show now. I want to do bits and pieces with him to clear his mind on what I'm looking for. I think that's important and, hopefully, he will get on with it."
Paul Gallagher picked up his fifth booking of the season against Charlton and will serve a one-match suspension next weekend
Emile Mpenza scored a last-gasp equaliser against Charlton on Saturday and Romain Larrieu believes the only way is up now for the striker. He said: "It was his only touch of the ball, but it still changed the game. I'm chuffed for him because he needs a lift. He would have loved to have played more than he has and this might be a sign for him that the only way is up from now. Obviously, you are down when you're not playing. Everybody wants to play. He has come to play and he wants to score goals. He hasn't started a game yet, but he has already scored a goal. He should be happy with that and take it from there. I think that's what he will do." Mpenza scored after a free-kick taken by Larrieu was nodded down by Rory Fallon. Larrieu said: "Rory was up against two good centre-backs, especially Hudson, who I think is decent in the air. But Rory more than held his ground and he won that one. It fell nicely for Emile and he just hit it first time. It was a great finish. It wasn't even half-a-chance. He had one minute to do something, and he did. That's what you want. It's a great thing for the team to know you have got people like that, who can come in and change the game. It's the first time we have come back into a game after going a goal down." Argyle were 1-0 up until the 86th minute, when Kelly Youga headed home from a corner. Larrieu was adamant the goal should not have counted because he was fouled as he tried to catch the cross. He said: "One of their players pulled my shirt. I felt like I had managed to put him behind me and when I started to make my move towards the ball – which I thought I was going to catch – he just dragged me back. From where the referee was, he must have seen it. I can't believe he hasn't seen it, or he wasn't looking at me when he should have been looking at me. I had caught most set pieces at that point, so he should have been looking at what I was doing. I don't know what the linesman was doing either. I couldn't even see who had done it because I felt like he was behind me." Charlton then took the lead in the second minute of stoppage time with a penalty awarded after Fallon was penalised for pulling the shirt of Hudson. Larrieu said: "It was a penalty. I think Rory slipped. It was really slippery out there towards the end after all the rain in the second half. As he slipped, I think he grabbed the guy's shirt. It wasn't to foul him, he didn't want to fall. But the referee was a yard away and he had to give it." Larrieu also paid tribute to the Green Army. "The noise from the stand was definitely better," he said. "We did feel like we had people behind us, and that was a really good feeling. It's true, like the gaffer pointed out, that we need a 12th man at home, like every club has, and we felt like we had it today. We are on the right path. We just need to keep digging in, keep the away, and keep working on our home form."
Paul Sturrock will put plenty of effort into finding a solution to his sides inconsistent home form. He said: "We've had poor start to the season at home - away from home, we've been on of the form teams - and trying to get us back to winning ways at home is something we are going to have to work hard at. We did work hard at it this week, and I think you saw some benefit from the work we have done. We've now got two weeks before our next home game, so it's important we get it right. The quicker we start winning back-to-back games here, the better it will be for us. I pride myself on that we're normally a solid, working unit, and, for the last 20 minutes, we seemed to drop off. When we score first now, we go to deep, taking ourselves into our box, and start to do zany things and run ourselves out of positions. If I was a neutral watching the game, I'd probably say a draw was a fair result. I don't think we did enough and I don't think they did enough. Our goalie had a couple of decent saves, but there were a lot of half-chances things around their goal, especially in their half, that we might have done better with. We were actually round their box an awful lot in the second half, a lot of counter-attacking stuff which got ourselves in the right areas. I thought Clark played very well. You have got to give credit to the other team's manager. He went chasing the game and very nearly came out with three points."
Paul Sturrock experienced a range of emotions as Argyle drew with Charlton Athletic yesterday. He said: "I'm a wee bit disappointed because we had been quite comfortable through the second half, apart from one save from Romain. But the wind and the rain got up, all of a sudden they have changed their system and brought some more forward types on, and the next minute they are battering our door." Charlton drew level at when Kelly Youga headed home from an 86th-minute corner. Larrieu was livid, however, because he thought he was fouled as he attempted to catch the cross. Sturrock said: "There was definitely tugging on. He was going to take the ball, and then he couldn't move." Charlton then took the lead in stoppage time when Andy Gray converted a penalty. Sturrock said: "It was a definite penalty. Our player has slipped and had a slight panic about what the boy was going to do with the header, and it has cost us. At least he has put his hand up and admitted that it was his mistake." Argyle were only seconds away from their fourth home defeat of the season when Emile Mpenza struck. Sturrock said: "I'm pleased for Emile because he has come here half-fit, and I believe he has carried this knee problem for a long time. He had an injection in the knee, which took him out of the squad for a couple of weeks, and now he's back. In the reserves' game the other day there was more life about him, which had been missing in the past. The last couple of days are more like the Emile everybody saw at Manchester City, and earlier in his career. Hopefully, that goal will give him confidence and it now gives me food for thought for next Saturday. While the team were winning, it was very difficult to roll the red carpet out for him. In the end, I have got to be fair to every player at this football club." Mpenza had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds when he scored, and Sturrock added: "He always seems to have a chance when he comes off the bench. It's something we are maybe missing, but I would say his general play has been the disappointment for me. His energy levels have been down on the standards I would expect. But there is light at the end of the tunnel now and, hopefully, he will gain confidence from that goal. I have got to decide whether I can merge him into the side now." Sturrock played a 4-4-1-1 formation against Charlton, but there was a recall to the starting line-up for Rory Fallon, which meant Paul Gallagher moved to the left-side of midfield, where he was largely ineffective. Sturrock was asked whether he thought he could get the best out of Gallagher in that role and he replied: "No. Paul Gallagher, for the cause, went and played in a position today he doesn't prefer, although he has played it a lot. It was important to try to put three forward type players on the pitch, and I went for his use of the ball and his guile on the left of midfield. In the end, when he went back through the middle again, I thought he did very well because he just floated off the front. I had to play on the left wing for about six months one season because the team needed me to play out there. Gall was quite happy to go out there, but I don't think we saw enough of him. We didn't give him enough service, but he's quite prepared to work his tail off up and down the pitch. Sometimes players have got to go and do things they don't like doing, and I'm very pleased Gall has shown a professionalism about that." Sturrock revealed Krisztian Timar had not been available for selection because of a knee injury he suffered in training on Thursday and also that he opted for Craig Noone on the bench after his recent impressive performances for the reserves. He said: "Marin had a wee back injury. He probably would have been fit, but I just felt Nooney merited coming in."
Argyle drew 2-2 with Charlton Athletic at Home Park, the goals scored by Mat Doumbe after 37 minutes and Emile Mpenza (90). Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Cathcart, Seip, Barker, Clark, Summerfield, Duguid, Fallon, Gallagher, MacLean. Subs – Mpenza, Noone, Mackie (not used – Folly, Paterson). Attendance - 10,716
Damien McCrory is set to have his loan spell at Port Vale extended until January. Vale manager Dean Glover said: "I spoke to Paul Sturrock on Thursday to try to set up a deal that will allow us to take Damien until January because I think he has done very well for us. All being well, it can all go through next week." Sturrock said: "Damien has had some glowing reports while he has been there, so he hasn't let himself down."
Argyle have been drawn at home to Fulham in the third round of the FA Youth Cup. The tie must be played by December 13th
Paul Sturrock believes Argyle are at an important crossroads in their season as they prepare to take on Charlton Athletic today. He said: "It's a big game for us. We are at a crossroads in the season. We can kick on from this, but only with three points. If we were to lose again it would be three defeats out of four and all the negative side of it comes flooding back. So it's vitally important we get the proper result, but it will be a difficult game. We have got to be very positive in our approach. We have got to get in their faces and make it hard for them. They have got quality players who can hurt you individually, but we have got to be a team and come up the goods and get the victory we need. Charlton weren't on what you would call a fantastic run when they came here last season and I think they nipped us late on. It's vitally important we start churning out performances. If you win your home games and you take 20-plus points away from home you normally have a good season. We have got 11 away from home, which is good pointage for this time of the season, but we have only got 10 from our home games." Sturrock must choose between Craig Cathcart and Krisztian Timar as the centre-back partner for Marcel Seip this afternoon and when asked who he would pick said: "It will be a difficult one." Craig Noone could be added to the squad after another impressive display for the reserves on Tuesday as could Yoann Folly and Emile Mpenza. Sturrock said: "I think the boy Noone has definitely put himself in the frame. Yoann Folly had a competent game and Emile showed a sharpness and a willingness after his knee injury." Simon Walton will not be considered however, as his fiancee is close to giving birth to their first baby. Sturrock said: "I think Walts has got a few other things on his mind at this minute in time."
Rory Fallon wants to reclaim his place in Argyle's front line but will not kick up a fuss if he has to wait for a recall to the first team. "It's a team game," he said. "The way we play is hard-working, we've have a had a lot of travelling to do, and everyone needs to be able to work to the standards that are needed. I had no complaints. He is the gaffer, I'm a player, and I do what he tells me to do. When you lose your place, you try and get it back – but hopefully you get some rest out of it. I'm just looking forward to Saturday's game, if I'm playing or not. I'm a team player, so it doesn't matter to me. I still do all the right things and prepare properly. If the gaffer wants me to play, I'll play." Asked if he was feeling the benefit of the break from the starting line-up, Fallon replied: "Yes, definitely. In training, I felt I've been able to offer more help to the midfielders. I've been able to do more hard work. A lot of my game is hard work and dedication and giving 100 per cent. That's what we all have to give, and everyone in the whole team has to be pulling their weight." Fallon allows Argyle to play more high balls, but he insists that they are not a one-dimensional team. "I don't want it up to my head, I want it played up to my feet," he said. "It's usually only when we're in trouble and we need the out-ball that I get it played up to my head all the time." Fallon watched more than half of each of Argyle's two games in Sheffield, before coming off the bench. "Football is a funny game," he said. "You can play the worst game you can play, and still win. Or you can play well and lose. I'd rather play badly and win. I don't care what anyone says, it's all about winning. It isn't about taking part, it's about winning. We're not in this game to look good and lose. We're here to win." If Charlton are victorious at Home Park today, they will become the fourth club to beat Argyle at home this season. "When we go away, teams attack us a lot more, so we can counter-attack them," Fallon said. "Teams come here and sit back, which makes it a lot harder. They get everyone back, like we do when we go away. We just have to try something different when that happens here." However Charlton play today, they will face a battle. "You can't put a price on desire and will to win," Fallon added. "Sometimes skill is not enough."
Paul Gallagher has admitted he feels more of a marked man as opposing teams try to contain him. He said: "Other clubs have seen our results and we have beaten quite a lot of good sides, so it's not just me they are concentrating on, it's the whole team. But I do feel like I have been marked a bit more." Paul Sturrock suggested after the defeat at Sheffield United that Gallagher was tired after playing five times in 15 days, and he did not disagree. Gallagher said: "We have had a lot of games in a short period time and I don't want to make excuses but all the travelling has been difficult. Quite a few of the lads were feeling tired, but now we have only got games on a Saturday for a while, so we get a little bit of time to rest and prepare properly." Asked about the back-to-back trips to Sheffield, Gallagher replied: "It's like we live on that bus! It was a long week, but as a professional footballer you know you are going to have to travel to play games. You have got to prepare properly for those games and I think we have done that. Some of the results show that. I did tell the manager I felt tired, but I want to play every game – as every footballer does – so you try to put that to the back of your mind. Playing all of those games in a short period of time does take it out of you, but we have had a rest this week and everyone is itching to get back playing." Argyle had won three successive home matches before losing to Ipswich Town on October 25, when Gallagher had an early chance to open the scoring. He said: "I should have scored to make it 1-0 to us, and it probably would have been a different story, but they got the first goal and just took the momentum on. We did look all over the place against Ipswich. Every ball was dropping to one of their players. Hopefully, we will be back on song tomorrow, like when we won all of those games earlier in the season. We need to get back to doing what we do best." Argyle were fifth in the table after beating Sheffield Wednesday but since then they have won two and lost three of their last five fixtures. Gallagher said: "It has been lose, win, lose, win and lose, so hopefully it will be a win tomorrow. We know Charlton haven't been doing that well, but their luck could change, so we have got to do the right things to make sure we get a result. This is a hard league and people can beat anyone on their day." Gallagher has been named PFA fans' Championship player-of-the-month for October
Craig Cathcart put in some impressive performances as he kept Krisztian Timar out of the Argyle team, but that run in the side ended last Saturday, when a severe headache kept him out at Sheffield United. Cathcart said: "I got to the ground and my head was busting me. I just thought I wasn't going to do myself, or the team, justice, so I told the manager. It was disappointing for me because there is plenty of competition in defence, especially with Krisztian missing out and Doumbe coming back. But, hopefully, I have done enough in the games before that to stay in the team." Cathcart has also had 'flu but he said: "I have got a bit of a cough but I think it's on its way." Charlton visit Home Park tomorrow and Cathcart believes they will be tough opponents. He said: "I think it will be quite difficult, even though they are near the bottom of the league. They need a victory, like we do. I think they will give 100 per cent, so we will have to match and, hopefully, being at home will give us an advantage to get a win."
Paul Sturrock has called on the Green Army to play their part when Argyle play Charlton Athletic tomorrow. Sturrock is concerned that criticism from the fans at certain home games this season has had a detrimental impact on the team, but, does not want his comments to come across as an attack on the supporters who have stuck by the club. He said: "I'm not, in any way, asking anybody who pays their money not to vent their frustration. What I'm saying is if things don't go well, that they vent their frustration at the end of the game and not during it. We are all here trying to get three points. When the teams are read out before each home game, the announcer says 'number 12, the Green Army' and there is a huge roar. Yes, the fans are our 12th man. What I'm trying to say is that they should be a great benefit to us." Argyle are 12th in the table going into the game. Sturrock said: "I want to reiterate to the fans again that we are not the finished article. We are trying to come up with something different for at home, because obviously we have benefited from something different away from home. I'm pleasantly pleased with the way things have transpired since the fifth game of the season. I would say the last 10 have been better, and we are looking for more improvement every game." Sturrock certainly expects an improvement over the dismal display against Ipswich. He said: "In that game, after two or three bad passes or when we lost the first goal, I believe there was a lack of backing. And I do believe there was an apprehension running through the football team because of it. I ask the fans again to give their total backing to the team through the 90 minutes. If things haven't gone well, then vent their frustrations at the end of the game. I would like to think we are all in this together and we are going down the right road. We haven't set the heather alight at home this year, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it." One player who has been a target for criticism has been Luke Summerfield but Sturrock has been impressed at the strength of character he has shown to overcome that. Sturrock said: "It has been difficult for young Summers because, firstly, he's the coach's son and there is always a debate about that. And, secondly, he's young and there is a hot and cold scenario to his game. But he has proved he's a strong character because there have been games where, stupidly, the fans have cheered when he has been substituted. That doesn't help anybody's confidence, but there have been other games where he has been one of our top performers, which shows he has got strong will. We have persevered with Summers and I think we have reaped the benefits."
Paul Sturrock has revealed that David McNamee is set to miss the visit of Charlton because of a leg injury. Sturrock said: "He has got a tightness again and we are going to get him scanned today. He seemed to pull up in the game on Saturday, not long after he went on." Mathias Doumbe is expected to play at right-back
Argyle's goalkeeping crisis is likely to be eased within the next few days. Paul Maxwell is optimstic both Graham Stack and Lloyd Saxton will come off the injured list within the next few days and said: "They're both coming along well and we're monitoring their injuries on a daily basis. Stack has been seen by a specialist about his hand injury, which had been bothering him quite a bit Fortunately, nothing's really shown up, although we're obviously we're going to monitor his progress over the next couple of days and see where we are. There's no pressure on him as he could tell me on Saturday morning that his hand is OK. Lloyd's injury is in his wrist, but again that's improving all the time. But it's down to the two players to decide whether they're ready to play. But I can't see there being any problems." Maxwell was also upbeat over striker Emile Mpenza, who suffered a head injury in Tuesday's reserve match. Maxwell said: "He had a couple of stitches in the head injury. Again, it's nothing serious – and he should be back in training today."
Krisztian Timar has been called up to the Hungary squad for their friendly with Northern Ireland on November 19th
Argyle reserves lost 4-1 to Southampton in the Combination Cup game at Home Park yesterday, the goal scored by Jamie Mackie. Emile Mpenza was substituted at half-time after a clash of heads with Jeffrey Imudia and needed a couple of stitches in a head wound. Argyle: Chenoweth, White, Gerring, Sawyer, Paterson, Bolasie, Walton, Folly, Noone, Mackie, Mpenza. Subs – Smith, Barnes (not used - Brett, McCaul)
Gary Sawyer has described his injury-plagued first three months of the season as 'a nightmare'. Sawyer, who played for the reserves yesterday afternoon, said: "It's nice to get 90 minutes under my belt. That's a positive for me. Obviously, I'm not happy with the score of the game, but that's just one of those things. I'm on the road to recovery and I need a few more of these games to get myself up to the pace, but it's pleasing I managed to get 90 minutes in. It has been a nightmare really. It was worse when the team were losing because you want to get back out there and help them. But then the team started doing really well, which takes the pressure off you to rush back. It gives me more time to get fully fit because the last thing I want to do is go back in and break down again." Sawyer played in Argyle's final pre-season friendly against Dundee United, but was substituted in the second half. "It was the hamstring to start with, and I had that sorted with the operation," he said. "Then I had to have three stitches in my shin after a tackle on the training ground, and that's what I'm struggling with at the moment. The hamstring is as good as it can be for the time being. It's just the shin now." Sawyer was troubled by the hamstring injury at the end of last season, and Paul Maxwell hoped it would settle down during the summer. Instead, it flared up again at the start of pre-season training. Now, though, Sawyer has been assured he has finally overcome the injury. He said: "I will have to keep working on it, but that will be me putting in the hours in the gym. It has been signed off by all the doctors, so it's fine. It's just that I have got to put the time in and get it right. It's up to me really. It has been very frustrating because you want to be playing. Everyone wants to be playing, and I'm no different." Sawyer admitted he would consider a loan move should he return to full fitness and not get a first team call-up. He said: "If I'm fully fit and they aren't ready to put me in, it will be something I will look at, but it would be a very short loan spell. I would say I'm around 75 per cent fit at the moment. It was pleasing to play 90 minutes yesterday and fitness-wise I didn't struggle at all with the game. It's just getting back to the pace of it and working with the team."
Paul Sturrock has no regrets about signing Emile Mpenza, despite him making only four substitute appearances for the club so far. Sturrock said: "I have always felt Emile would be a good player for us, and that hasn't changed, but his general fitness has been a problem. He hadn't done enough work to be available for the game on Saturday, but we are hopeful he will play today for the reserves against Southampton. I just feel he hasn't been up to speed, and the team were winning at the same time, so it was difficult for him to displace any of the other players. He has had this niggling knee injury, which seems to have cleared up after an injection. So I'm very hopeful we will see a sharper Emile from now on. He and I have had a chat about things and he's very appreciative of the situation – that he wasn't fit when he came to the football club. The team has been winning games, so he has had to take a back seat." Sturrock delayed selecting the reserves' side to take on Southampton until this morning. None of the players and staff were at Home Park yesterday because they had been given time off after back-to-back trips to Sheffield last week. Sturrock said: "I did feel even the coaches needed a day off after all the travelling we have done."
Joe Mason played in all three matches for the Republic of Ireland under-18s at the Limoges four-nation tournament in France last week. Mason appeared as a substitute for the opening game against Serbia and started against both France and Denmark
Damien McCrory has been called up for the Republic of Ireland Under-19 squad for the UEFA 1st phase qualifiers against France, Malta and Liechtenstein. Meanwhile, Port Vale are keen on extending McCrory's loan spell, which ends this weekend. Vale manager Dean Glover said: "In the games he has played at left-back, McCrory has done exceptionally well, considering he's a wide left midfield player by trade. We know Kevin Summerfield and Paul Sturrock well and they put this lad forward. We have been very pleased with what he has contributed so far."
Paul Sturrock is hoping that Argyle will return to winning ways when they play Charlton Athletic at Home Park on Saturday. He said: "We have got to do some solid work to make us very difficult to beat at home. Our points tally away from home is very acceptable, for any team. But I have been disappointed with the games we have been losing at home. I want that place to be a bastion for us, like it used to be. We are going to have to come up with something this week to try to see if we can start making it very difficult for teams to win games at Home Park."
Paul Sturrock has admitted a heavy workload of matches has taken its toll on Paul Gallagher. He said: "I do feel the boy Gallagher has definitely looked as if he has had too many games in a short period of time." Sturrock had considered leaving Gallagher out of the starting line-up on Saturday, and recalling Rory Fallon to partner Steve MacLean. Sturrock added: "I thought about it, but he has got the ability to see passes, crosses and shots that other people can't. He can sometimes open the door for other people. But I do feel he's one I have got to consider about wrapping up in cotton wool to get him back to the standards he was achieving when he first came."
Craig Cathcart had to drop out of the team to face Sheffield United because of illness, so Krisztian Timar came into the side. Paul Sturrock said: "Cathcart would have played but he had a severe headache when he got to the ground, and has had 'flu symptoms for the last couple of days. So we had to make a change very, very late which brought Timar into the team. I thought Timar was competent. He went and headed it and battled his corner."
Argyle under-18's won 1-0 at Yeovil Town on Saturday, the goal scored by Liam Head. Argyle: Brooks, Leonard, Brett, Kinsella, Hodgkinson, Gerring, Edwards, McCaul, Head, Grant, Moseley. Subs – Sawyer, Pickard, Young (Trott, Troupe)
Krisztian Timar was back in Argyle's starting line-up on Saturday, but was unable to celebrate his recall with a win. "I am not happy with the result," he said. "The guys thought the penalty was a really soft penalty decision, and the defeat was really disappointing. But it has been a tough week for us. I think we have played well in both games. We want to win every game, but at least one win and one defeat is better for us than two draws. Now we must keep going." Argyle kept Sheffield United at bay until half-time at the weekend. "I thought we played as well in the first half today as we did on Tuesday," added Timar. "It was hard for me, because I want to play every game, but the team played well. They won a few games, and I just tried to work hard and keep up my fitness levels. Now I must just keep going. I want to play as many games as I can, and I am very pleased I got the chance today. I played because Craig Cathcart does not feel well. He is a very talented defender. I think I did OK today, but the gaffer will tell me how I played. I like to keep clean-sheets and we didn't do that today, but we were playing against a good team. I think they could go up." Timar's battle with James Beattie was one of the game's best contests. "In the game I beat him so many times in the air," Timar said. "He is a good player, but I think I handled him OK."
Paul Sturrock criticized his team for conceding too many fouls as Argyle lost 2-0 at Sheffield United. "We're all disappointed," he said. "I pre-warned my team that set-pieces were a key to United's game and we gave away too many silly things. The penalty looked soft - it was one of those 'run into each other' scenarios - but the referee decided to give it, and it changed the complexion of the game. I warned the players about the first 15 minutes of each half. We didn't adapt well to the second half and we paid dear. It was even a soft free-kick for the second goal. Then, it all changed. They dropped back five yards; we, all of a sudden, start to get forward with some fresh legs on. I've never used the excuse in the past, but we looked very weary at the end. I think everybody looked very leggy. The boy Cathcart was out with the flu; Mackie has had it. You don't know how many are carrying it. To be fair, we probably had several clear-cut chances in open play but the horse had obviously bolted by then." Sturrock now finds himself trying to keep his team fresh, and Nicolas Marin made his first start at Bramall Lane. "He got a wee culture shock about the pace of the game," Sturrock said. "In the first ten minutes, he was very lively, got a couple of decent crosses in, but as the game unfolded, I think he realized what he needs to do. He's now had a taste; it's now up to him to come up with the good as far as the pace of the game is concerned." Elsewhere, Sturrock saw positives and negatives that need his attention before next week's visit of Charlton. "I thought Steve MacLean was very competent," he said. "He tired a bit in the second half because of lack of games. I think Gallagher is another one that could do with a wee rest and I'm hoping the week will benefit him. Rory came on with a bit more belief, he looked a bit more lively with a bit more zest than he'd shown in the last couple of games; Mackie came on and was very positive; so it augurs well." The defeat came just fours days after a 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday, and Sturrock admitted: "If someone had offered me three points from these two games, I would have bitten their hand off. The points from our away travels have been very, very good. The essence of any football team is to win your home games and get reasonable points away from home. At home, we have stuttered dramatically and I think it's now time to come up with something that allows us to be strong and resilient at home and let's us churn out wins. We've tried the away style at home and it hasn't worked. We have got to come up with a little something offensively that gives us an opportunity to score goals. That's something we are going to work on this week."
Argyle lost 2-0 at Sheffield United. Argyle: Larrieu, Doumbe, Timar, Seip, Barker, Marin, Summerfield, Duguid, Clark, Gallagher, MacLean. Subs – Fallon, McNamee, Mackie (not used – Folly, Paterson). Attendance - 25,601
Paul Sturrock has insisted Argyle will not be content with a draw when they take on Sheffield United today. He said: "Today's game is vitally important. I would like to come back with the three points again – I'm getting greedy in my old age. We went there last season and got a result, and there is a confidence among the players. They were really buzzing coming back on the bus from Sheffield Wednesday – well, for at least an hour before they absolutely collapsed! I would like to think we can be competitive in this game as well." Argyle's preparations for the trip to Bramall Lane were hampered because their training ground at Harper's Park was flooded. Sturrock knows his side must perform close to their best if they are to get a result. He said: "It's a difficult place to go. They haven't lost a game at home this season and are one of the form teams in the league. They have got some good players who can hurt you. We have got to play better than we did the other night – that's the important thing for us – but we have got to keep our defensive thoughtfulness as well. I think Sheffield United will be a top six team this season." Meanwhile, Sturrock believes Brian McCaul will have learned a lot from travelling with the Argyle squad to Sheffield Wednesday. McCaul did not make the bench at Hillsborough but Sturrock thought it would still have been an invaluable experience for him. "He merited it," said Sturrock. "His performances in the youth team have been excellent and it was a position I felt we need a bit of coverage in. He will benefit from travelling with the pros."
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