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Romain Larrieu will be ready to welcome Luke McCormick back to Home Park

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 15, 2013

Goalkeepers Romain Larrieu (left) and Luke McCormick (right) enjoy their work while training in Austria in 2003 during their time together as Plymouth Argyle players. Picture: Dave Rowntree

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Romain Larrieu will welcome his former Plymouth Argyle goalkeeping rival Luke McCormick back to Home Park tomorrow.

McCormick is set to be between the posts for Oxford United when they play the Pilgrims in npower League Two.

It will see the 29-year-old return to Home Park, where he was playing regular Championship football for Argyle until he was jailed in 2008 for killing two children in a car crash while drink-driving.

McCormick was sentenced to more than seven years in prison, but was released last summer. He and Larrieu were goalkeeping rivals at Argyle for several seasons but also built up a friendship as well.

Larrieu, who is now part of the Pilgrims’ back-room staff after retiring as a player at the end of last season, is looking forward to seeing McCormick tomorrow.

McCormick returned to playing football in November with Truro City in Blue Square Bet South, before Oxford snapped him up on a contract until the end of the season. They made their move after first-choice goalkeeper Ryan Clarke was ruled out for the rest of the campaign after a shoulder operation.

McCormick has started the last three matches for Oxford, which have all ended in defeats, but has earned good reviews for his performances.

Larrieu said: “I’m happy for Luke that he got given the chance to do his job again because, at the end of the day, that’s what he does.

“Whatever happened has happened. He has messed up a lot of lives, including his own. He was sentenced and has come out now.

“Oxford have given him the chance to play in the Football League again and I’m glad he decided to take it. I look forward to seeing him on Saturday,” he added.

Larrieu is a father of two boys, Oscar and Aldo, and he admitted he had found it difficult to come to terms with the tragic events surrounding McCormick. “We have spoken a couple of times since he has been out and we have texted each other, but there wasn’t any contact when he was inside,” Larrieu revealed.

“We have talked about that and he fully understood. It was really hard for me because I’m a dad as well.”

McCormick played 11 times for Truro, who are managed by his former Argyle team-mate Lee Hodges, before he was approached by Oxford.

Larrieu said: “I’m glad he made the decision to sign for Oxford. He wasn’t sure what to do until the last minute. He has got nothing to lose. He probably didn’t expect to get another bite at it, but he has kept himself fit.”

McCormick made 157 appearances for Argyle before he was jailed, and the last time he played at Home Park was in a

3-0 Championship victory over Blackpool on April 26, 2008.

“I don’t know what response Luke is going to get from the fans on Saturday,” Larrieu said. “I hope it’s a good one.”

Larrieu played 318 times for Argyle during 11 years as a player at the club, and it would have been more had it not been for the ability of McCormick.

“We had a great working relationship,” said Larrieu. “We both badly wanted to play but we were able to put that aside.

“Whoever was picked, it never made any difference in terms of how we would be with each other. We kept the competition between us on the pitch,” he concluded.

Another of McCormick’s Argyle team-mates was midfielder Paul Wotton, who, now aged 35, is in his second stint with the Pilgrims.

They were members of the club’s Second Division (now League One) title-winning squad in 2003-04.

Wotton said yesterday: “Luke is a good friend of mine. We played in successful teams together.

“I have got a lot of time for him and my family has got a lot of time for him. I’m thrilled to see him back in the Football League.

“I hope he gets a good response on Saturday because he was a fantastic goalie for Plymouth Argyle. What has gone on has gone on, and he’s rebuilding his life.

“I hope he’s on the losing side, but I will be the first one to shake his hand and give him a hug after the game,” Wotton declared.

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