11 Places Up For Grabs

DESPITE being only a week away from the start of the Sky Bet League Two campaign, manager Ryan Lowe is still keeping his preferred starting 11 close to his chest.

Argyle named only 18 players for their pre-season clash with Bristol Rovers at Home Park on Saturday, but Liverpudlian Lowe has suggested that neither his players, nor the Green Army, should not read too much into his squad selection ahead of next week.

“I’ve said to them, just because of the team selection today [against Bristol Rovers] – don’t think that’s the team,” said Lowe. “I‘m not going to sit here and say ‘that’s the team’ because then Dave Artell [Crewe manager] will pick up the phone and thank me for letting him know my team for next week.

“We’ve got another week to get through before we name the team, and I’ve got two lads coming back to fitness as well.”

There is certainly competition for places in Lowe’s new-look Argyle squad, and no race is hotter than that to be the Pilgrims’ first-choice goalkeeper. West Bromwich Albion loanee Alex Palmer had an excellent game in the 1-0 defeat to Rovers, but academy graduate Mike Cooper is hot on his heels.

“Alex and Coops have been fantastic, and one of them will miss out, unfortunately,” said Lowe. “We’ve got the Carabao Cup, so whichever of them doesn’t play on Saturday will play against Leyton Orient on the Tuesday. Whoever is playing the best, and keeping the clean sheets, will play.

“Alex was fantastic, his contribution was very good, along with Coops. He was only on for a short space of time but I was very happy with him, along with all of them. There’s no-one I’m unhappy with, because, if there was, they would already be on their way out.

“We’ve made a decision to go with a squad of 18, because that’s what we’ll have to go with next week. We’ve got to build it up for that, and that was the case [on Saturday].”