CARL McHugh was pleased to continue a positive pre-season by playing every minute of Argyle’s 4-2 win against Elburton Villa – albeit in a slightly different role than usual.
The Irishman, deployed mostly as a centre back since joining the Greens at the beginning of last season, played the anchor role of a fluid midfield system against Villa, picking up the ball from defenders, breaking up play and starting attacks for his side. Along with Curtis Nelson, Gary Sawyer and Kelvin Mellor, Carl played the entire 90 minutes at Haye Road, and was pleased with his and the team’s performance.
“It’s just good to get out on the pitch at this stage of the season,” said McHugh. “Getting minutes in the legs and proper fitness.
“We did, at times, play some good stuff as well, which is a bonus. Everyone came through without injuries, so that’s the main thing.
“I played there [in midfield] when I was younger, before I moved to England and went to Reading. I played there for my international team, too. I’ve usually played centre-half or sometimes at left back, but I’ll always try my best, and tonight we did alright, so we’ll see how it goes.
“I always want to get on the pitch as much as I can, all season. After a long break, it’s great just to get out there on the pitch and feeling good again.”
A Curtis Nelson header, a brace from Ryan Brunt and a Jake Jervis strike were enough to secure the win, and Carl had plenty of praise for Jervis, as well as the other players that took to the field in an Argyle shirt for the first time.
“They looked really good – like it will give us a spark going forward,” said McHugh. “The likes of Graham [Carey] and Gregg [Wylde] and Jake [Jervis] were really good, and Josh [Simpson] has done very well in midfield.
“Obviously Gary [Sawyer] has been here before so everyone knows about him: he’s a really solid, experienced full back which you need at this level. They all look really good additions, and I’m sure they’ll be massive parts to the team this year."
Both teams had to deal with low-hanging fog and drizzle for the game, but Carl feels the very un-summer-like conditions had no ill effect on continuing what he believes to be the best pre-season of his career so far.
“We were saying that the pitch was bit long and a bit heavy,” said Carl, “but the surface was slick with a bit of rain on it.
“There’s nothing worse than a hard pitch when you’re burning your feet and getting blisters, so avoiding that was a good part of it. It was still a warm night, too, so we all got a good sweat on and had a good workout.
“That’s what it’s all about, really. We’ve worked really hard over these last two weeks. It’s been the best start to a pre-season I’ve ever had – tough, but really good.
“The lads are looking really fit, even this early in the season.”