Mark Hughes

Hughes's Bristol Rovers Preview

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Argyle play Bristol Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night, and the game will be a reunion of sorts for Pilgrims assistant manager Mark Hughes.

Hughes retired from playing in January 2022, joining Argyle initially as first-team coach, then stepping up to assistant manager in the summer.

He joined from Bristol Rovers, for whom he had signed at the beginning of last season. He played six games for The Gas, but missed action because of an injury, and assisted manager Joey Barton with some coaching duties before heading to Home Park.

Speaking to Argyle TV ahead of Tuesday’s game, which kicks off at 7pm, Hughes offered some knowledge of Rovers, including a few insights about Barton’s potential mindset.

“I know Joey doesn’t like the cup!” said Mark. “He’s still wants to win every game, though. It will be a tough game.

“They do the basics really well. That’s what Joey has built his foundations on, in terms of getting the basics done. He likes his defenders to defend, the midfield to get up to people. They will be competitive and aggressive. It will be a tough game, they had a really good season last season.

“They have lost a few players who did well for them on loan, and they have started off with a couple of bad injuries. I don’t know in terms of the team how he will see it, but I know he is as a person, he will be out to win the game.

“They will probably have a few young lads in who I didn’t really see when I was there.”

Playing some younger prospects and some players who have not made many starts in the Sky Bet League One campaign thus far is a typical approach to the Trophy, with Hughes indicating that Argyle will likely follow suit.

That does not mean, however, that this will slacken the mentality of the players, with Hughes suggesting it not only an opportunity early in the season to get minutes into the legs, but is also a chance to impress and continue the winning momentum at the club at present.

Mark said: “It’s good that some lads who have not played will get minutes to try to get up to speed and have a chance to keep the winning mentality which we want at this club.

“The way the manager has been picking his teams, he picks lads who are at it, day-to-day. Whoever plays tomorrow, we’ve said it’s a chance to be ready to go and play on Saturday.

“We’ve got a strong squad here. I’m sure he’ll utilise it, and possibly involve a couple of youngsters as well.

“With the five subs rule, some teams are having a starting team and a finishing team. We don’t pick it like that; on Saturday we needed an injection of pace, so brought Morgan [Whittaker] on and it happened. Every game is different.

“You want to play 46 games and the cup games, but it’s going to be tough. We need to utilise everyone.”

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