Blazey Squad

ARGYLE'S pre-season plans take a big step forward this weekend...

...when they visit Carlsberg South West Peninsula League St Blazey, and Pilgrims' manager Derek Adams plans on fielding a strong side in Cornwall.

The Pilgrims' set of pre-season fixtures begins at Blaise Park, where a fortnight's worth of gruelling fitness tests and drills will be put on hold to gain some all-important match fitness.

"We're looking forward to it - every season, you enjoy coming back for pre-season training," said Derek. 

"I think the players are looking strong and fit. They're now speaking to each other, because they've been quite tired with the amount of training that we've been doing. We're away to the running track again this afternoon and we're working hard.

"We've had ball-work in the morning and we've been running in the afternoon. They're all looking in good shape; we're all obviously going to be a bit rusty because there's a tiredness element to it, but we're in better shape than I thought we'd be."

Much of Argyle's hard work in the past two weeks has taken place away from their usual training facilities, as Brickfields and the University of St Mark & St John work with the club whilst renovations to Harper's Park are ongoing.

"We're using Marjon just now, and we're using Brickfields' training complex," said Adams. "We're going to be off [Harper's Park] for a couple of months now. 

"It's getting drainage work and it's going to be fenced off as well which will provide extra security, which was required, and the pitches will be a lot better than they were. For a number of years it's been needed, and I'm very grateful to the chairman and the board that, by asking them to get a wee bit of improvement, they've been able to do that."

All that work across the city will be put to the test in a match situation for the first time on Saturday, as Argyle play SWPL Premier Division St Blazey for the first time in nine years. Adams will be treating the occasion with utter professionalism, and fully intends on taking a look at the best that his squad has to offer against the local side. 

"We'll have the first-team squad going there," said Derek, "and we will get some good game-time for them tomorrow. 

"When you come back for pre-season training, you're always looking forward to it [the first game]. When you sign new players, they look forward to getting in the strip of their new team; they look forward to going to different venues; and the supporters are excited about the new season. 

"We've prepared well this week; the players are tired but they'll sure be excited for St Blazey. 

"We've got a number of games that we're playing in and around Plymouth this year again. I think it's important that we support the local football teams, and we're doing that to a great extent again this year. They'll have first-team players playing at various venues next week."

All plans at St Blazey and beyond have the sole intention of preparing Argyle as best as possible for their season-opener against Luton Town on August 6 - and, as Derek pointed out, making good progress as early as possible can bode very well for a player. 

"Last year, there was only one change [in the starting 11] from the play-off final to the first game of the season," he said. "So that tells you that the first game of the season is one where you think you've got a good team until the end of the season. Sometimes that changes but last year, ten players that played in the play-off final played in the first game of the season. 

"We're all preparing for August 6 and the first game of the season. It's about getting the players game-time and making sure they're injury-free and prepared for that first game of the season."