AFTER safely navigating Argyle's fourth pre-season friendly against Torquay United, Derek Adams feels he has the core of his new-look squad already assembled.
The Pilgrims drew 1-1 with their Devon neighbours at Plainmoor, as a first-half goal from David Goodwillie was cancelled out after the break by a Nathan Blissett penalty. The Gulls offered a notable step up in class after three games against local opposition, and Derek was pleased with how his players handled the new challenge.
"I thought we were quite comfortable in the game and passed it about," said Adams. "We obviously made numerous changes, but I thought the amount of chances we created today - and opportunities missed - I'm delighted.
"We're only just two weeks into the season, but the players are in good shape. Listen: we have to sharpen up a bit, and that will come over the next three weeks.
"I think that there [was] a lot more running power in the opposition, and you're going to get that the higher level you go. You just see a wee bit higher movement from the opposition, higher running power, and that's what you're going to get with the opposition you play against.
"I think getting that [game time] in the legs of the players is very important at this stage of the season. We've used 18 players today which is good - a few of the ones that had knocks have come in and got some game time. They've had probably ten training sessions together, which is not enough. I think that when we go to Holland, we'll be able to bed it in better with two weeks to go."
Derek and his side go into the aforementioned tour of the Netherlands next week looking to further gel and integrate a set of talented individuals - which the boss hopes will include one or two more additions. Whether those signings will be trialists who have appeared for Argyle recently remains to be seen - though they will have knowledge of the various formations Adams has rolled out.
"We've got the core of the squad in place," said Adams. "To go to Holland, we probably need to take in two before that. We'll wait and see if that happens. Over the coming days I'll make decisions [regarding trialists]. We're just having a look at other ones - we haven't ruled out anyone yet.
"I think we've got that formation [with three centre backs] to play; we've got 4-4-2; we've got 4-2-3-1; whatever you want to call it, we've got different formations. We're not going to play that way the whole season, but that's one of the ways that we will play - in a three."
Once those additions are in, Adams can make a final decision on naming the club captain for the new season. With plenty of candidates in the team to consider, Derek will not rush choosing someone for a role he regards as important on and off the field.
"We're just passing it around the senior players at this moment in time," said Derek on the armband. "The captain will be the captain on the first game of the season, and nobody will know that before then. We don't want to say too early, and I think it's important that we take our time.
"Your captain needs to lead on the pitch, and I think it's important we have that. Off the pitch as well you've got an important aspect of looking after the players. It is an important job for somebody to do."