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Plymouth welcome newly-relegated Barnsley in what promises to be an entertaining opening day clash.
The Green Army narrowly missed out on a spot in the top-six last season whilst Barnsley have appointed a new manager in Michael Duff, who’s made a handful of impressive signings so far.
This time last season, James Wilson was shaping up to make his Argyle debut.
The experienced central defender played 49 times in his first year as a Pilgrim, in a campaign that saw Argyle finish seventh in Sky Bet League One, spending all season in the higher echelons of the division, as well as having an Emirates FA Cup adventure at Chelsea.
Now, James is a senior figure in a squad that has added several new players, all itching to make their debut in Green. Wilson has been pleased with the integration of the newcomers, boding well for start of the season, which begins on Saturday, at Home Park, against Barnsley.
Although Argyle lost the opening game of last season, they were unbeaten in their next 16. A similar first third of the season this time round would suit Wilson just fine.
“It was a really good year to be involved in,” James told Argyle TV. “We started well, we had the FA Cup thing, and we were in and around it at the end of the season. Because we were doing well, the fans were really enjoying it. If we can get off to a good start, they’ll be right behind us again, and that will be great for the new lads to see.
“We have made some great additions to the squad. Some really good lads have come in. Hopefully that gives us the boost to get us over the line this year.
“You’ve seen in all the games we have played, they have had an impact. That’s a bonus, because sometimes it takes a while to get going, but everyone seems to have bedded in really quickly. Hopefully that will continue when the real stuff starts.”
Wilson was one of five central defenders signed in last year’s close season, along with James Bolton, Macaulay Gillesphey, Dan Scarr and Brendan Galloway. In various combinations the quintet all shone as Argyle’s defensive prospects improved.
Galloway and Bolton are recovering from injury, but Wilson is content that whatever defensive line-up takes to the field, their familiarity will breed success.
“We’re starting the season knowing how each other plays, which is a good thing,” said Wilson. “Hopefully that group can get stronger as well. We have the boys to come back from injury; Brendan’s not far away, and Bolts is getting there as well, so hopefully all together we will be a really strong unit.”
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They are likely to be tested by a Barnsley side who were relegated last season from the Sky Bet Championship, and have now appointed former Cheltenham boss Michael Duff as their new manager.
Wilson is gearing up for a game he expects to be a difficult one, but ought still to be an entertaining spectacle.
“They’re obviously going to be a good side,” he said. “They’ve got a new manager as well. That’s another boost for them. I know a few of their players, I’ve played against them over the years, but most are a bit of an unknown.
“It will be a good test; two teams that will try to play football. It will probably be a good one to watch, but will be a tough game.”