If The Shoe Fits

ARGYLE manager Derek Adams paid tribute to Jamie Ness for his comeback performance in Saturday’s 1-1 Sky Bet League One draw at Doncaster Rovers.

Jamie was a surprise choice – even, somewhat, to him – to fill the vacancy created by Toumani Diagouraga’s departure to Fleetwod Town. 

It took the Scottish midfielder, who had been an injury absence since early October, a little while to find his feet, but he got stronger as the game progressed, helping the Pilgrims to dominate second-half possession as they ended up unlucky to leave Yorkshire with just a point. 

“We’re moving on each week,” said Derek. “We’ve got a strong 18-man squad and players who are not with us today. Jamie came in and fitted in straight away, played the whole 90 minutes, which was really good. 

“There was a gamble in it but the gamble has paid off because he has put in a very good performance and filled the position that we needed to very well. 

“If you look at the system that we play, we didn’t want to change too much in the team so it was like for like. What we did today suited us.” 

Despite having been back in training for several weeks, Derek’s decision to select Jamie was relayed to the player only after the squad had arrived at the Keepmoat Stadium, but Jamie laughed at the suggestion that he had big shoes to fill. 

“Literally big shoes to fill,” he said. “Toums was brilliant when he came in. He gave us quite a lot – his performance levels and things like that – and we had a good run with him in the team.

“I want to come in and try to contribute to that, to keep that going. Obviously the lads are playing really well at the moment; we’re on a good run. I just need to keep working hard; build game by game; and try to step up to that level. 

“Toums scored a few goals and had few assists – so I have got to try to pick up where he left off and build on that. He had a very good rapport with the fans and I will try to step up to that, as well.

“We’ve got a really strong squad. There’s a few lads who could have stepped up today and I’m just delighted I got the opportunity and want to keep my place in the team now and play as many games as I can and help the team climb the table. 

“I didn’t know I was playing until about an hour and half before kick-off. I was just delighted to be back out there. 

“It probably took me the first half to get going and get up to the speed of things  but I felt we performed a lot better in the second half and deserved a point – at least – at the end of the game.”

Jamie went into the game with having played a minute of competitive football since calf problems from pre-season returned to haunt him.

He said: “I’ve been waiting to play in a reserve game since before Christmas but they have been cancelled, with the weather, each week, so that has been really frustrating for me. I felt like I’ve been getting closer and closer and fitter and fitter each week and just needed a bit of game-time.

“We had a bit of a bounce-match on Tuesday amongst ourselves with the Under-18s so that kind of gave me a bit of match practice before this weekend. 

“[The injury] was a frustrating one, really. I was out for a few weeks and then came back a bit too soon and broke down again. So we had to be really careful with it second time round.

“I did a lot of work with the physios, a lot of work in the gym, and did a lot of work out on the training pitch over the last six weeks or so, which I think helped me come into the team today, to be able to come straight in and play 90 minutes and to be feeling really good afterwards. I just want to build on that and build my performance levels up. 

“I’m feeling really confident now, feeling good, and desperate to make up for some lost time.”