Good to be Back

ANTHONY O’Connor came back to Home Park with the express intention of helping Argyle into Sky Bet League 1.

The 22-year-old midfielder, who played the first half of the season on loan from Championship side Blackburn Rovers, has rejoined the Pilgrims after three-game absence on a permanent deal for the remainder of the season.

After that, his future is undecided, but one thing is sure – he will not be taking an easy ride from now until May.

“I wanted to come here and help this team,” he said, on the eve of Argyle’s Tuesday night visit to high-flying Wycombe Wanderers. “I want to look back in years to come and I’d like to be able to say I went to Plymouth and we had a good season and got promoted. 

“I’m not here to see out the end of the season and move on. It’s not what I’m about; it’s not my character. I’m here for all the lads; they have been here for me – so has the rest of the club – so I am going to do my utmost to make sure I do the best for the club.”

The hiatus in the young Irishman’s Argyle career, and the uncertainty which immediately preceded it, coincided with perhaps the Pilgrims worst sustained sell of the season

“It was frustrating,” he said. “I knew a couple of weeks building up to my last game that I was going to be going back to Blackburn and I didn’t know what was going to be happening.

“I wanted to extend my loan in the first place and then, when I went back, I wasn’t too sure what was going to happen. There was talk of me coming here permanently, but I wasn’t ready to be signing a long-term permanent deal. 

“I’m only here until the end of the season as it stands, but that doesn’t mean I am not going to be giving everything for the club. Hopefully we can be where we want to be at the end of the year and then I’ll base my future on that.”

Argyle manager John Sheridan made no bones about the fact that he wanted Anthony to resume his Home Park career and Anthony said: “It’s nice to know that he wanted me back as much as he did – he’s had a really good career himself in his playing days; he’s played at the top and at international level – but he knows and I know that I still have a lot of improving to do. 

“Just because I’m not at Blackburn any more doesn’t mean I don’t want to play at the highest level. I do, but I still know I’ve got a lot of improving to do, whether that’s as a midfielder or a defender. Hopefully, I can repay him and the team with some good performances.”

Anthony played a few games for Blackburn’s Under-21s while he was back at Ewood Park and said: “It was difficult to go back into that. 

“It’s not really football; you’re not really playing for anything. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s about development but I am past that stage, now. I want to be playing first-team football all the time. When you are playing for three points on a Saturday, everyone’s job is on the line so you know you have to get your head down and work hard.”

Anthony’s return to the Green Machine’s engine-room on Saturday coincided with a nervy 1-0 home win over Accrington as the Pilgrims put a seven-match winless streak behind them.

“It wasn’t pretty to watch,” he said. “It was pretty scrappy. We knew it was going to be a tough game. It was just about grinding out a result. We have been going through a dodgy patch of late, so we just need that win to get a bit of confidence back.

“You want to perform well, as an individual and as a team, but only once you get the points on the board. It’s getting to the stage of the season now when we need to put a run together and kick on. 

“I guarantee that he teams that are going to be in the play-offs or automatic [promotion places] are the ones that are going to be consistent in their performances and keep picking up points. We can’t win one game, then lose two, and then win again – you have got to keep picking up points, whether that’s wins or draws.”