Backing The Defence

ON-LOAN Argyle defender Zak Vyner has experienced plenty since arriving at Home Park from Bristol City seven games ago: his first three games were against Sky Bet League One’s top trio; he has played in two of the back-four positions; and he is already on his second centre-back partner.

Last week, he linked up with Yann Songo’o for the 1-1 draw at Fleetwood following an illness that hospitalised Sonny Bradley and has ruled out 2017-18’s Player of the Season for the foreseeable future. 

Like everything else, it has all been taken in his easy long stride, though, and that bodes well for Saturday’s Sky Bet League One visit of Bristol Rovers to Home Park. 

“We’re all team-mates,” he said. “We’re not going to not gel. Obviously, you are going to have to get used to playing with certain people, but I get on really well with Yann, so it’s not like I’m playing with a complete stranger. We fit really well. 

“Yann has come in and is comfortable. Like me, he is trying to play because he’s naturally a midfielder, and he’s done really well. I’ve played with Sonny and I’ve played with Yann - I’ve been lucky.” 

Zak is grateful for not only the game-time that his move has allowed him but also for the belief wihich his temporary gaffer, Derek Adams, is instilling in him. 

“It is giving you the confidence to play,” he said, “and, if you have an iffy game, you get another chance to make it right. That’s the main thing that young players everywhere need. Obviously, it’s maybe difficult when you’re at your parent club. 

“He encourages me to play my game, get on the ball. That’s my game so, say, for instance, when we’re playing against one striker and Sonny or Yann’s got the ball, he can play it to me and I can drive out; or, the other way round, if I play it to Sonny or Yann, he can drive out with it. He encourages that. It gives an extra player to the attack. 

“I try to get on the ball as much as I can and impose myself on the game as much as I can, give [the ball] to players who can do a bit more with it than I can do. 

“I like to get on the ball and maybe some people will think ‘Give it to a midfielder’. I just think ‘I can do that pass, I’ll do it from where I am.’ It might take the other team by surprise.” 

Zak played at right-back for City against Argyle in this season’s Carabao Cup before becoming a Pilgrim, for who he briefly reprised the role at Oxford when Oscar Threlkeld was ill. 

He said: “I’m preferring centre-half at the moment because I’m playing there a lot more; I’m getting used to it; I’m learning tricks of the trade; and I feel I’m becoming more of a dominant figure in the team now. 

“I’m really enjoying it. I’m playing games and that’s what I wanted, that’s what came here to do.” 

After experiencing defeat in his first game against Wigan, Zak has been part of the fantastic run that has seen the Pilgrims – bottom of the table as recently as December – become genuine promotion contenders  

“It’s a big turnaround,” he said. “We are not just a team to ‘be here’ – we want to try and push for it.  

“Because it’s so close for us now – we’re only a couple of points off the play-offs – we want to push; take every game as it comes; and try to get the results to get us up into the Championship.  

“I don’t see why not.”