Argyle take defensive duo on loan
Posted by nickogs20 on September 18, 2009
Plymouth Argyle boss Paul Sturrock has bolstered his struggling squad with the temporary acquisition of United defenders James Chester and David Gray.
With Argyle propping up the Championship table at present and having conceded 14 goals in their seven matches thus far, Sturrock’s move to bring in defensive reinforcements is no surprise. Having taken Gray and Craig Cathcart on loan for successful spells last season, the under-fire Pilgrims boss has again turned to good friend Sir Alex Ferguson for assistance.
Gray’s return to Home Park had been rumoured for some time, but Plymouth’s hopes of again securing Cathcart’s services were dashed when he moved to Watford earlier in the week. Instead, Gray will be joined by Cathcart’s regular centre-back partner in the reserve and youth ranks at Old Trafford, James Chester. Both players have signed three-month deals and will go straight into the squad that makes the long trip north to face Newcastle United tomorrow afternoon.
As said, David Gray will be a familiar face for Plymouth fans, having made 15 appearances last season in his first spell on loan with the Devon club. Now 21, the versatile Scot signed for United as a 16 year-old in a £50,000 move from Hearts back in the summer of 2004 and acquitted himself well in a number of positions as he progressed through the ranks. 2006 brought a first-team debut in a Carling Cup win over Crewe, before unproductive loan spells with Royal Antwerp and Crewe Alexandra followed in 2007, and then Plymouth came calling last January. While perhaps not as obviously impressive as his United colleague Cathcart, the Scotland Under-21 international nonetheless established himself as a regular in the Argyle side as they avoided relegation, an experience that should stand him in good stead second time around.
For James Chester, this is a first loan spell of any real length, having previously spent just a month with Peterborough last season. The Warrington-born centre-back has been with the club since the age of eight and enjoyed a breakthrough season of sorts last season, earning the reserve captaincy and a first-team debut against Derby in the Carling Cup semi-final before making five appearances under Ferguson junior during that brief stint with the Posh. A no-nonsense defender who loves a tackle, James is the reigning Reserve Player of the Year at United and will be looking to follow the example set by Jonny Evans, Ryan Shawcross and Cathcart in recent years, all centre-backs who have made a big impression out on loan.