'The Strongest Team So Far'

CONOR Hourihane is still only 22 but already counts as one of Argyle’s old sweats.

It is an appropriate description, given the climate in which the Irish midfielder has been enjoying his third pre-season (under a third different manager) as a Pilgrim.

“It’s nice to be back,” he said. “It’s tough running in this kind of weather, but we’re all enjoying it.

“You can’t complain. It’s normally sunny in pre-season and it’s nice to get some nice weather and, like I said, we’re enjoying it. I think we’re near the beach tomorrow, so this kind of weather suits this that kind of stuff.”

Although the weather has been relentless, manager John Sheridan has kept his pre-season regime as varied as possible: on Friday, for instance, the squad made use of the city’s iconic Tinside Pool.

“We all know where it is, but I don’t think many of us have been inside it,” said Conor. “It’ll be good, but it won’t be relaxing, that’s for sure.”

The hard work to which Conor alludes that has been put in on the training-ground, Tinside and elsewhere is beginning to reap a dividend as the Pilgrims continue their pre-season build-up with games at Tiverton, on Saturday, and at Bath, the following Tuesday.

Conor said: “It’s fair to say that, in the three pre-seasons I have been with the club, this is definitely the strongest team we have had so far, and I’m sure we’ll get even stronger.

“There’s a good vibe. Everyone’s definitely looking forward this year. The lads have the right mentality – we definitely want to go up the table. We are all looking forward to it and itching to go.

“It’s important, in any league, to get off to a good start – you don’t want to be playing catch-up – and I think we have got a squad which will get off to a good start, fingers crossed.”