Steven Schumacher

Schumacher's Derby Preview

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Argyle boss Steven Schumacher has welcomed the arrival of Sam Cosgrove, signed by The Pilgrims on Transfer Deadline Day.

Cosgrove arrives on a season-long loan from Birmingham City, having spent last season in Sky Bet League One, on loan to Shrewsbury Town and AFC Wimbledon.

In those spells, he only scored a combined three goals, but Schumacher feels that in a side like Argyle, the tall striker could flourish, offering a different option to those currently at our disposal.

“I’m delighted that Sam has joined,” said Schumacher. “He gives us a physical presence at the top of the pitch that we haven’t got, and haven’t had for a few years. We felt that, with the strikers we have, he would complement the team and make us better.

“He went on loan last season to two League One teams who didn’t create many chances. His overall game, when we looked at his data, was good. His duels that he won and his aerial win percentage was good; his data of linking the play was really good. He just didn’t score the goals.

“But he was playing for the teams who were 22nd and 23rd in the league for touches in the opposition box. We were second. If we can get the ball into the box and get ball in for him, he gives us a different option.

“Ryan [Hardie], Niall [Ennis] and Luke [Jephcott] have all got different qualities, but none of them have got what Sam has got. None of them are six-foot-four and can hold the ball up, can be an outlet or a target, or can be a threat if the ball goes wide and we cross high into the box. Having that variation and different type of number nine is going to make us stronger.”

Cosgrove comes into contention for selection as Argyle travel to Derby County on Saturday. Derby were relegated from the Championship last season, having suffered crippling financial issues in recent seasons. A takeover has been completed, though, and the well-supported Rams have a strong squad, which has seen them take 11 points from their opening six games.

Argyle, though, will have the backing of at least 2,000 members of the Green Army, and Schumacher is hopeful that can be a motivating factor to his team.

He said: “These are the type of games, as a player, that you look forward to. When the fixtures came out, I looked to see when we were playing Derby County.

“They’ve got some really good players. They play some lovely football. They have loads of good movement, and players that complement that. We could see that once they started signing players in the summer following their takeover. At a huge, sold-out Pride Park it is going to be a good game, and we’re really looking forward to it.

“I think they will get stronger as the year goes on, possibly similar to Sheffield Wednesday last season. We’ll go there with no fear. We’ve played a couple of the relegated teams from the Championship and done well. We’ll go there and do our best again on Saturday. We feel that when we are at our best, we are a match for anyone. With our travelling fans behind us, we’ll have some good energy behind us.”

Argyle have a dozen points from their opening six games, having won four of them. Some victories have been more comfortable than others, with Saturday’s win over Bolton in particular being a hard-fought encounter. Schumacher expects more of the same, in a very tight league, and knows his squad will have to keep their performance levels high to compete at the top end of the table.

“There’s load of improvement for us to do,” he said. “We’ve done well in loads of the games in certain aspects, or for spells. That’s how the season always pans out. You don’t play the same way in 46 games.

“In top of the table League One games, they are almost like Championship games. There are Championship clubs and ex-Premier League clubs in the division. Games are always tight, it’s the teams who look after both boxes and are clinical that come out on top.

“It has been a tough start. We have had to graft in every game to get points, and Saturday will be no different. We’ll have to be at our very best to get something from Derby.”

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