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Fletcher would be happy to retain MacDonald for extended loan stay

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 04, 2012

Plymouth Argyle’s Curtis Nelson (right) celebrates putting his team 3-1 up against Northampton Town after coming off the substitutes’ bench at Home Park. Picture: Dave Rowntree

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Manager Carl Fletcher is keen on extending the loan spell of Burnley striker Alex MacDonald at Plymouth Argyle beyond the initial one month agreement.

MacDonald is scheduled to be with the Pilgrims until October 6, but Fletcher is already looking further ahead than that.

Asked whether the loan could be extended beyond a month, Fletcher replied: "I would like to think so. If he keeps doing well, then definitely, yes."

MacDonald, 22, made the first appearance of his second loan spell with Argyle in the 3-2 npower League Two victory over Northampton Town at Home Park last Saturday. He was sent on as a 34th minute substitute for the injured Paris Cowan-Hall. MacDonald had signed for the Pilgrims the previous day, returning to the club with whom he spent the final two months of last season.

The versatility of the former Scotland Under-21 international appeals to Fletcher. He said: "You almost get four players in one with Macca. He can play in midfield, out wide, up front or off the front. It's a good option for us to have."

MacDonald re-signed for Argyle three days after playing against them for Burnley in a Capital One Cup second round tie at Turf Moor.

Fletcher thought about starting MacDonald last Saturday but, as the new recruit had made the long trip from Lancashire to Plymouth on Thursday night, he eventually decided against it.

He said: "I probably didn't think I would bring him on in the first half, but I wanted to have that freshness when I brought him on."

MacDonald was the one addition to the Pilgrims' squad before the transfer window closed on Friday.

Fletcher said: "There were lots of players we were looking at, and you ask people about them and you get different comments and opinions.

"You have your own opinions, but you like to find out as much as you can.

"With Macca, the main thing was we knew what we would get with him. You kind of minimise the risk a little bit.

"You know he's going to give 100%, has got good technical ability, and he's either going to create goals or score goals.

"The fact he wanted to come down as well, that was a big bonus for us."

Fletcher added: "He has not had a lot of game time [against Burnley]. Last Tuesday was his first proper competitive game, but he will be fine."

Meanwhile, Curtis Nelson could be a 'good option' as a stand-in striker in future matches, Fletcher has admitted.

Nelson, 19, usually plays as a central defender, although he started this season at right-back because of an injury to Durrell Berry.

Berry returned to the first team last Saturday, which led to Nelson dropping down to the substitutes' bench. But Nelson was called upon by Fletcher in the 67th minute after an injury to striker Rhys Griffiths, who had put Argyle 2-1 up earlier in the second half.

Nelson had been on the pitch for only seven minutes before he extended the Pilgrims' lead with a firm header from a cross into the penalty area by left-back Robbie Williams.

He soared above defender David Artell and powered the ball into the net for his first goal for Argyle in his 64th appearance.

Nelson had only played as a striker once before, when he was pushed forward from centre-back in the closing stages at Burnley last Tuesday as the Pilgrims chased an equaliser.

"It's a good option for us to have," said Fletcher. "We did it against Burnley when we put him up front for the last ten minutes. He's a handful – he's big and strong and has got a great leap.

"He might not always go out and score, but the defenders' concentration might be focused on him and it might be someone else who gets the chance. It's a good option."

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