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Coventry City notebook: Travel illness, a free agent and fan favourite returning

If Coventry City wins their third Championship game in as many days to end the ideal week, they will be in excellent shape heading into the international break.

The Sky Blues, who defeated QPR 3-1 at Loftus Road last Saturday and superbly followed that up with a 1-0 victory against Blackburn Rovers in the middle of the week, will have a stiff test when they take on seventh-place Norwich City at the CBS Arena.

David WAgner_11zon
David WAgner_11zon

 

Mark Robins’ main concern in the build-up to the match against the Canaries is two-fold – coming up with a plan to cope with yet another central midfield injury and giving his fit players enough rest to recover to ensure they’re not too fatigued from the heavy schedule of three games in a week. His biggest concern is Jamie Allen who has started the last two games, having only recently returned from a summer heart issue.

Here we take a look at what’s happening in and around the club in the build-up to Saturday’s big home game against one of the division’s favourites for promotion.

Beware bogey side

Mark Robins admits his former club Norwich City have become a bit of a bogey side for the Sky Blues in recent seasons – a trend that he’s determined to buck when his players entertain David Wagner’s men this weekend. The Canaries did the Championship double over Coventry last season, winning 4-2 at the CBS Arena in January, having secured a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Carrow Road earlier in the 2022/23 campaign.

coventry vs Norwich flags
coventry vs Norwich flags

The teams played each other three times in the 2020/21 season, with the Norfolk side once again getting the better of City with a 2-0 win at St Andrew’s, while the Sky Blues snatched a late point in a 1-1 draw, courtesy of Max Biamou, in the away fixture, while losing 2-0 at their place in the FA Cup.

Norwich are a team that we’ve not done brilliantly against, by any stretch,” said Robins. “In fact, we’ve been really poor against them. So I think this one is something where we can look at it and do better than we’ve done, which has been only picking up a point in out last four league games. And that was during COVID when there were no crowds, so yeah, this is an opportunity without a shadow of a doubt.”

Travel sickness

Norwich, meanwhile, travel to the CBS Arena having failed to win their last four games on the road – a run that includes 2-1 defeats at Rotherham and Swansea, an EFL Cup loss at Fulham and a 6-2 thrashing at division new-comers Plymouth Argyle.

Mark Robins is therefore bracing himself for a bit of a backlash, warning: “They’ve lost four games away from home in the last four games and they’ve been disappointed, but they’re a good side full of good players. “There’s no doubt things have changed a little bit and they’ve got some injuries.

Josh Sargent is injured and had surgery and Grant Hanley is another who is out. But they’ve signed experienced players that know the way out of the league; played at higher levels and they’ve got some real talent in the squad again. So we have to be at our best really to get something from the game, and we might be at our best and it still might not be quite enough. But my only concern is just making sure that we’ve got enough energy on the pitch at all times.

Free agent Max back at the CBS Talking of Biamou, the former favourite was at the CBS Arena again on Wednesday night to cheer on the club which clearly still holds a special place in his heart. Remarkably, the 32-year-old has barely played since being released by the Sky Blues in the summer of 2021, after which he had a brief spell at Dundee United, playing just three times from the bench.

Max
Max

The French striker has had injury problems but has recently recovered from surgery and is now hoping to find a new club to rekindle his career. Meanwhile, Gus Hamer was also in attendance again, with the former City star clearly having strong ties to the club.

Mark Robins is hoping Haji Wright will have been boosted by his impressive match winning header against Blackburn on Wednesday night – the goal coming as his second in his ten league games to date.

“I think with the strikers they always tend to be confidence players and the goals that go in sometimes are instinctive,” said the manager. “You saw that with Ellis on Saturday against QPR, and the other night with Haji. It was a little bit more than instinct, but he was there in the right place the shot from Yasin rebounded off the goalkeeper and up into the air which meant that he had to generate the power himself. You can’t underestimate the timing and the technique, but that’s all muscle memory.”

He added: “We’ve got to remember that he’s an international player. He’s scored goals at international level and yeah, absolutely, 100% it’s going to give him a big lift. You could see that with his celebration with the players at the end of it.”

 

 

 

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