Monday, October 25, 2010
Confident Clifford starts well at Pymouth
Ireland u21 international Conor Clifford put in a fine performance in his debut for Plymouth against Huddersfield on Saturday.
The 19-year-old, Dublin born midfielder was signed on a one-month loan from Premier League champions Chelsea late on Friday afternoon, he then started for the Pilgrims the following day.
Clifford only met the Argyle squad for the first time shortly before kick-off.
The one exception was winger Craig Noone, who had collected him from Plymouth railway station on Friday.
Clifford admitted it had been a whirlwind experience for him, and also an enjoyable one.
He told Herald Sport: "Craig Noone picked me up from the train station and I stayed with him last night.
"So, basically, I went into the dressing room, put on the kit and went out and played.
"I didn't know anyone's name, but the lads were good to me. They looked after me on the pitch and helped me through it."
Clifford continued: "It was strange sitting down in the dressing room, with no-one knowing who you are.
"It did feel a bit awkward that I was starting, and other lads who had been training all week weren't.
"But I'm here to play football and it was brilliant (Argyle manager) Peter Reid threw me in.
"I wasn't expecting that at all, but he showed great faith in me. He told me to relax, to go out there and express myself, and not to be nervous."
Clifford followed those instructions, soon winning over the Green Army with his confident, positive approach.
Reid made his move for Clifford after seeing him in action for Chelsea reserves when they won 5-4 away to West Bromwich Albion last Wednesday.
Clifford said: "I played well in that game and I got a call from Frank Arnesen (Chelsea's director of football) that night.
"He told me Peter Reid had been in contact with him, and it happened really quickly from there."
Clifford thought Argyle were good value for their victory over Huddersfield.
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips grabbed his sixth and seventh goals of the season as the Pilgrims won at Home Park for only the second time this term.
Clifford, an Ireland under-21 international, had not played any senior football before.
His previous experience had been limited to academy and reserve team action for Chelsea.
Dublin-born Clifford said: "It's very different to what I'm used to.
"Back at Chelsea there is a lot of tippy-tappy, nice football, but this is proper men's football.
"I thought the lads dug in and we all worked well for each other. It's a brilliant result."
Clifford was impressed with Wright-Phillips, who scored both of his goals after the ball was flicked on by his strike partner Rory Fallon.
"They were great finishes," said Clifford. "Every time Brad got a chance it looked like he was going to score."
Having broken into the team so soon, Clifford is now determined to try and stay in it.
His loan spell is initially for one month, but it could be extended later on.
Clifford said: "I'm still learning the game, and it's all good experience for me playing in front of big crowds and with these lads.
"I just want to keep myself in the team and keep playing well for Plymouth."
Clifford has become the third aspiring young Premier League player to be snapped up by Reid.
Goalkeeper David Button and midfielder Dean Parrett are both on season-long loans from Tottenham Hotspur.
Button was recalled to Argyle's starting line-up against Huddersfield after recovering from an ankle injury, while Parrett was an unused substitute.
Clifford said: "Not a lot of managers would take the risk with young players, but Peter
Reid seems to really have trust in us.
"I know Dean really well from playing against him up at Tottenham. He helped me a lot as well."