Boss Ryan Lowe says that despite this unprecedented pre-season schedule being tough, he’s still happy with how his Plymouth Argyle team have performed, writes Gareth Davies.
A 2-1 friendly win over League Two side Forest Green Rovers at Home Park yesterday (Saturday) completed the Pilgrims’ campaign. They have also defeated local rivals Plymouth Parkway by the same score line, along with 3-2 and 1-0 losses at the hands of Glasgow Rangers and Middlesbrough respectively.
Argyle struggled for long parts yesterday against an energetic Rovers outfit but the home side led 1-0 at half-time thanks to Ryan Hardie’s goal four minutes before the break. Dan Sweeney’s rocket levelled the match inside the first five minutes of the second stanza before substitute Luke Jephcott found the mark with a late winner.
Speaking to The Independent at full-time, Lowe was in bullish mood overall despite an indifferent showing from his side against Mark Cooper’s men
He said: “I’m very pleased with our pre-season because it has been different in terms of what we’ve had to do.
Heading up to Scotland meant we managed to get some minutes into the lads and it was nice to get away. It has been tough; I won’t lie because of all the circumstances and protocols – you know what that is like because you have been in the ground today. We are governed by the rules and regulations and I think we have stuck to them brilliantly.
“In football, though, everything is touch and circumstances change day in, day out. We have dealt with all of them really well so overall, yes, I am pleased.”
Lowe spoke previously about pre-season being all about selecting a team for his first competitive fixtures of a late starting 2020-21 campaign. Argyle’s first game is in six day’s time when they host Queens Park Rangers in the Carabao Cup, before the League One season begins on home soil against Blackpool on September 12.
With this in mind, is the 41-year-old any closer to knowing his starting 11 for competitive fixtures?
“I’ve got a feeling in my head as to what I want and how I want it,” he mused. “But listen, you know what it’s like because someone else can pop up and give you a headache so I’m not ruling anyone out. What I will do is make the right decision when the time comes.
“I didn’t want the boys to read too much into what team went out there today. For the first game of the season, we are going to missing Gaz (Gary Sawyer, suspended) and Jeph’s (Luke Jephcott, international duty) is away so it’s not rocket science to see what we will do there.
“In terms of the first league game, we’ve still got two weeks before that and I’m not taking the Carabao Cup lightly because it will be an extra game we can get into the lads.
“We are all geared up for League One football, but we will pick the strongest team we possibly can against Queens Park Rangers.”
Meanwhile, Lowe revealed that both goalkeeper Luke McCormick and midfielder Joe Edwards missed the Rovers match through injury. The experienced gloveman hurt his shoulder in training on Thursday, while Edwards has suffered a bruised ankle.
Lowe also explained that Argyle trialist Calvin Miller should find out if he has done enough to earn a full-time move to Home Park in the early part of next week. The talented wing-back is a free agent after leaving Scottish side Celtic in the summer.
Miller wasn’t the only trialist to feature against Rovers as Ben Reeves, who was released by MK Dons after the 2019-20 season was ended, came on for the final 30 minutes. Lowe said it was unfair for both player and club to make any decision on just 30 minutes action and said that the 28-year-old will train with his first team squad next week too.