THERE will be a new football structure in place for Argyle next season with the re-introduction of a reserves side.
Since the Pilgrims dropped out of the Championship eight seasons ago, the club has never had a set up reserve team. This season the Pilgrims have been playing in the Central League and the South West Peninsula League, as well their first-team commitments. That will continue next season but there will be a designated core squad to fulfil the fixtures. Argyle offered four apprentices and two development players contracts earlier in the week, on top of the contract already signed by Michael Cooper. They were: Cameron Sangster, Ryan Law, Luke Jephcott, Harry Hodges, Alex Battle and Daniel Rooney. Argyle manager Derek Adams believes it is a step in the right direction for the club’s structure.
Adams said: “All the coaching staff sat down and we spoke with the academy staff and made a decision that these were the players that were going to go into a reserve team next year and help them develop. It is going to be a bigger squad rather than a development contract with three players. We are no looking at more than that so they can develop on a daily basis, play and train together. They would train with the reserve team.
"They will play in the Central League mainly and possibly go out on loan. They will play in the Peninsula League against the top teams and they will try and get some friendly matches against better opposition as well to try and help their development.
"It’s difficult for them when they come out of under-18 football and straight into the first team, it’s too big a gap and we have to develop them. If you look at other players in other teams you are looking at 20,21,22 year-olds that are playing in the first team. Everybody here thinks an 18-year-old should be walking into the first team and it rarely happens.
"I think that getting the likes of Cooper, Law and Sangster into the first team squad has benefited them. Now, they need to develop even further and now that is an opportunity they will have. That is not to say they will be with the reserve team all the time, if they progress and do well like they have done there is an opportunity to play in the first team.”
The aim of the reserve team will be able to develop the younger players to play more regular football. Therefore, the club will be able to fulfil every fixture. Adams did however apologise for the postponement of the SWPL game against Falmouth earlier in the week.
“We didn’t have enough players to fulfil the fixture,” said Adams.“We have had injury and illness throughout the squad, we have had three games to play in two days. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to field a team. That is the way it is sometimes and it is something we can’t do about. All teams have injury and illness, and it just happens at this stage of the season there has been a lot of games postponed in SWPL and Central league. So we didn’t have enough players to fulfil the fixture.
"We are committed to be in the league. We have put out very strong teams at times in the competition and I think Plymouth Argyle have been good in a way that the league had been publicised more regularly than before. I think that the crowds have certainly gone up and it has enabled the teams we have played against to gain extra revenue. It has been beneficial for all parties; we are sorry weren’t able to play the other night but circumstances were against us."