Plymouth Argyle kick off their 2020/21 season against Championship side Queens Park Rangers in the first round of the EFL Carabao Cup this Saturday.
The Pilgrims’ last competitive fixture was back in March, where they came out 3-0 victors versus Macclesfield Town. QPR, however, played their remaining nine fixtures during June and July after they were originally postponed back in March.
Ryan Lowe will be looking to build on his League Two promotion success while Mark Warburton racked up the Hoops’ highest points total in their last five seasons.
Both will also want to improve on their second-round knockouts in this competition last season. Argyle conceded two late goals, suffering a home defeat to Reading while QPR came crashing out against Kenny Jackett’s Portsmouth side.
The summer transfer window saw QPR lose their star player Eberechi Eze who moved to fellow London club Crystal Palace in a deal that could rise to £20m according to Sky Sports.
The Rs also failed to keep hold of West Ham loanee Jordan Hugill, who signed a permanent deal at Norwich City.
Mark Warburton has signed replacements in Lyndon Dykes and George Thomas, but we will have to wait and see if they can hit the same goal tallies as their predecessors.
Down in Devon, Ryan Lowe has made eight summer signings, with Peterborough United midfielder-come-left-wing-back George Cooper being the pick of the bunch.
Panchute Camara and Lewis Macleod both signed on free transfers from Crawley Town and Wigan Athletic respectively and join ever-present Danny Mayor, forming Argyle’s new midfield three.
Argyle will be without goalkeeper Luke McCormick as he struggles with a shoulder injury, leaving 20-year-old Michael Cooper the only fit first team goalkeeper at the club. Ryan Lowe hinted in Thursday’s press conference that he was looking at signing a third keeper before the weekend – more than likely Jack Ruddy who is on trial at the club according to Plymouth Live.
Joe Edwards returned to training this week after suffering an ankle injury and will be available for selection this Saturday.
Young striker Luke Jephcott is unavailable whilst on international duty with the Wales under-21 national team.
For the Rs, their summer signing Lyndon Dykes is away with Scotland, as they face Israel and Czech Republic in the EUFA Nations League.
Defenders Niko Hamalainen and Conor Masterson are also away with their countries and therefore unavailable for selection.
George Thomas is back training with the club after suffering a slight niggle but could be a doubt for Saturday.
Ones to Watch
Tireless Central Midfielder Panchute Camara has put in some impressive shifts throughout pre-season, amazing the Green Army with his never-say-die attitude.
Ryan Hardie has signed on another season-long loan at Home Park from Blackpool FC. The attacker found the net seven times in 13 League Two appearances last season.
22-year-old Ilias Chair enjoyed his first full Championship season with the Hoops. The attacking midfielder impressed Warburton when out on loan at League Two Stevenage with his ability to create something from nothing.
The two sides last met in 2010, Argyle’s last season in the Championship, where the Rs took all three points in a 2-0 home win - with goals from Adel Taarabt and Damion Stewart.
The QPR manager at the time was Green Army fan favourite Neil Warnock.
Plymouth have only lost once in their last 10 competitive fixtures against QPR – with six of those results being draws.
Pre match comments
Speaking in the weekly press conference about the upcoming clash, Ryan Lowe was full of praise for Mark Warburton’s side.
“I know people are saying they have lost their best player [Eze] but that does not matter, they have championship qualities.
“We are the underdogs if you would like, a Championship team coming to a League One club.
“I am sure Mark will respect us because of the way we play, and the promotion last season and we will certainly respect them because of the levels of quality they have got.
“We are expecting a tough game, but it is one we are relishing.”
Warburton spoke to the club website on Thursday about the cup tie.
“It is a competitive game, it is a cup game against a very strong opponent. We are looking forward to it, it is another challenge for us.
“We are missing key players who are away on international duty, we have players with one or two niggles, so the squad is very depleted.
“They [Argyle] have that unity, that togetherness that you get from a winning team, they have got that winning mentality. They know how to win football matches.”
How to Watch
The match is available for broadcast through 'iFollow Argyle' and 'QPR+'.
Kick-off is at 12:30 BST.