Luke's Optimism

LUKE McCormick has seen a fair few opening days of the season as an Argyle player so, when he talks about feeling optimistic for the new campaign, you know it is an opinion to be valued.

The Pilgrims play their first Sky Bet League 2 game of the 2014-15 season this Saturday at Cambridge United, with the minimum aim very much on finishing in the top seven by the end of the 46-match campaign.

That would represent a minimum improvement of three places on the achievement of last season’s campaign and Luke, 30, reckons that is well within the Class of 2014-15’s compass.

“I certainly feel very optimistic,” said the Pilgrims’ new club captain. “I think the lads that have come in, each and every one of them, will bring a quality. We look quite assured at the back; we’re certainly more vocal than we were last season.

“I think we’ll be stronger than last season, and not just physically. No disrespect to the lads that have gone, but I think there is a lot of quality that has come into the squad. So I think we are in a better position to make something of this season.”

First to put that theory to the test will be last season’s Skrill Conference play-off winners Cambridge United, who will be looking to continue last season’s winning habits.

“There will be a huge buzz,” said Luke. “We will have to be prepared for whatever they chuck at us and I think it will be an awful lot. They will give absolutely everything. They will want to come into their first season back in the Football League and disappear off afterwards with three points.

“We are going to have to be strong and be resolute, and I have no doubt, with the quality we have got in our squad, we can come out of the game with a positive result.”

Luke will have a fresh central defensive pairing in front of him in the shape of new 21-year-old team skipper Curtis Nelson and vice-captain Peter Hartley, 26, who joined in the summer from Stevenage.

“I’ve been really impressed with Peter since he came in, on and off the field,” said Luke. “He’s a very vocal lad but he’s got a way about him where he’s very approachable off the field.

“On the field, he’s a leader; he encourages people and I really think we missed that a little bit last year.

“It will only help Curtis, as well, playing next to someone who is like that, taking a little bit of responsibility off him on the pitch, and Peter will certainly enjoy having that job to do.”

Luke will also assist Curtis, off the field, in his role as club captain.

“What I do is probably take a little bit of the strain off Curtis,” he said. “He’s a very capable, competent young man, but it enables him to channel his leadership qualities on the pitch, and I can pick up the loose ends during the week if there’s bits and pieces that need doing.

“I’m just someone to touch base with – a point of contact with the staff – for the players, if there are any issues.

“I feel very privileged and honoured to be given the role. I’ve always said how much I think of the club and how happy I am here, so I’m really pleased to be given the extra responsibility.”