Skipper's Itch

CONOR Hourihane cannot wait to get back into the swing of things when Argyle play Sky Bet League 2 leaders Oxford United on Boxing Day.

The Argyle skipper sat out Saturday’s 2-1 home victory over Bury, having picked up five cautions in the first 20 games of the campaign, and admitted he had loathed sitting in the grandstand while his team-mates picked up three vital points.

“It was not nice whatsoever,” said Conor, 22. “When the [first] whistle went, the disappointment really kicked in. Obviously I was disappointed leading up to the game but when you see the lads out there, you really want to go out and help them.

“It was one of those things. A lot of players, over a season, get five yellow cards. I’m back involved now, in the squad for the game against Oxford, and I’m really looking forward to it.

“Every player wants to go straight back in, but the lads won on Saturday so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

With Argyle fairly comfortably mid-table going into the turn of the season, Conor is having a first experience of a season that has been nothing but an abject struggle. Not that he is the least bit complacent about that.

“It’s been an up and down season, to be honest with you,” he said. “We should probably have five, six, seven more points than we have. It’s going to be a tough second half of the season but, if we all stick together and put that ball in the back of the net, which we have been struggling to do, I think we will push up the table.

“It’s not a bad position to be in because the last two seasons have been tough; we’ve always been down the bottom. But, this season, we are making slow, but steady progress.”

Conor also had words of praise for his stand-in as captain against Bury, young defender Curtis Nelson.

He said: “Curtis is definitely a skipper for the future - he leads by example – and I have enjoyed playing with him. He’s a good lad, as well. He was very good.”