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Pilgrims recruit Owers to work with Hodges and Stonebridge

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: June 23, 2012

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Plymouth Argyle's new youth coaching structure has been completed with the appointment of former Sunderland and Bristol City midfielder Gary Owers.

The 43-year-old will start at Home Park on July 1 and will work closely with youth-team manager Kevin Hodges.

Argyle now comply with the requirement to have four full-time youth staff as part of their intended category three status under the new Elite Player Performance Plan, which becomes active on August 1.

In addition to being youth-team manager, Hodges is the lead coach for 16 to 21-year-old age group and Owers will assist him in that role.

Owers will also take charge of the Pilgrims' Under-16 team. He was employed as Under-21 development coach by Bristol City between June last year and April this year, and prior to that he was assistant manager at npower League Two club Aldershot Town. He has managed Bath City and Forest Green Rovers.

The new youth coaching structure at Home Park also includes former Argyle striker Ian Stonebridge, and Phil Stokes.

Stonebridge, 30, will be the lead coach for the 12 to 16-year-old age group, and will assist Owers with the Under-16 team. The former England Under-18 international, whose playing career was cut short by injury, also starts work at Argyle on July 1. Stokes will oversee the nine to 11-year-old age group, as well as assisting Hodges with the Under-18 team.

Owers has the coveted UEFA 'A' licence coaching qualification, while Stonebridge and Stokes have 'B' licences.

The EPPP will see all Premier and Football League clubs reorganise into a four-tier academy system and comply with requirements on issues such as player contact, staffing levels and budgets. It has led to Argyle doubling their full-time youth coaching staff from two to four.

Hodges, the Pilgrims' record appearance holder, has been coaching the club's Under-18 side for the past two seasons.

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