REUBEN Reid is approaching the new season with optimism and without pain.
Argyle’s leading scorer for the last two campaigns played from first whistle to last in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at Torquay United, his first full shift since a post-season foot operation to cure a problem that had troubled him for the second half of 2014-15.
If that is good news for Argyle, the fact that – despite missing the first two weeks of pre-season training – the 27-year-old Bristolian looks leaner and sharper than he has for quite a while should make Sky Bet League 2 defences even more apprehensive.
He said: “Any footballer will tell you that the worst thing is coming to work and not being able to do training with the lads. You’re going to the gym and doing your own rehab, and you can’t really make up for going on the pitch and having a kick-around.
“But I’ve kept myself busy since I came back and I’ve worked extra hard away from football, as well, to get my fitness back up to the levels that they should be, and need to be. I’m potentially better than I ever have been before.
“It’s good to be back out there from the start on a football pitch. I felt strong, and probably a bit ahead of schedule than I thought I’d be.
“From Christmas time and after the Exeter game [in February], I was in a pretty bad way and shouldn’t have been playing football.
So is Rubes ready for the season’s kick-off?
He said: “I told the old gaffer ‘yes’ when I was dead in one leg, and I’ve got two feet again at the moment! So, of course, if selected, I’m ready to go and can hopefully put a performance in for the team.”
The Argyle number nine’s somewhat stalled career took off under ‘the old gaffer’, John Sheridan, and Reuben will forever be grateful for that. However, he is enjoying working with ‘the new gaffer’ and raising his sights under Derek Adams.
He said: “I want to take my game to the next level again, fitness-wise, and I think with this manager you are going to do that, because we have been working very hard since we’ve come back. It’s a bit of a shock to the system.
“Every manager is a different, and I worked very well with the old manager because he was a relaxed type of person. He’s the sort of person that lets you get on with things. Some people can’t react to that. John Sheridan was really animated on the sidelines with you – you couldn’t make a mistake.
“What I find with this manager that’s going to work well with us, is that there’s a routine – a very strict routine of hard work. There’s recurring themes in training, which I think footballers can feed off of.
“With the preparations for the games, a lot goes into it – even [on Tuesday] morning, when we were preparing for the game, we were doing set-pieces for the sake of two players. His attention to detail has already shown in the space of time that I’ve worked with him.”
So will all the hard work and attention to detail see the Pilgrims improve on last season’s finish in a play-off position.
“As a Plymouth fan myself and as part of the team, we had a good bunch of players [last season],” said Reuben. “There were times where we let ourselves down or could have done better things to get out of that league last year, and I think we under-achieved massively.
“The seasons just keep coming by and you want to be as successful as you possibly can. Obviously it was a massive disappointment missing out on a potential final last season and the rewards of going up a league, which I think we blew massively, but here we are again. The quickest eight weeks of your life flies by, and it’s nearly the start of the season again.
“I’m optimistic about this season because you can see we’ve made good signings that have hit the ground running, and I think we’ll be a different team this season. I think we will play more than three or four formations; we are going to adapt to other teams; we’re going to look at other teams a bit more, and probably pick a team to win that particular game.”