Nothing to lose with a wonderful opportunity for Coventry City to explore in Bristol. - Flashfootballnews
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Nothing to lose with a wonderful opportunity for Coventry City to explore in Bristol.

Coventry City remark from CoventryLive as Sky Blues writer Andy Turner examines Mark Robins’ weekend holding midfield options.

Ben Sheaf
Ben Sheaf

Coventry City return to Championship action this weekend as they travel to Bristol City, a team that has had a similar start to the Sky Blues, sitting in mid-table with 15 points from their first 11 games of the 2023/24 season. Mark Robins will be eager to welcome back Ben Sheaf to his matchday squad in order to assist alleviate his present central midfield crisis.

City’s best holding midfielder, on the other hand, has been sidelined for about six weeks with an adductor injury and will most likely be introduced from the bench rather than thrown back into the starting lineup. Liam Kelly is also expected to return shortly, but Saturday is likely to be too soon for the skipper who has been filling in for Sheaf.

Liam Kelly
Liam Kelly

When Kelly hobbled off against Blackburn Rovers with a hamstring tear, it was evident that the flexible Jamie Allen would drop back from his more aggressive role behind the strikers to give emergency cover in a position he’s no stranger to and more than capable of operating in to excellent effect. Of course, Robins has another option in Joel Latibeaudiere, but he has been hesitant to use the centre-half outside of his club’s designated position.

The manager did, however, call on the Jamaican international for the final 20 minutes against Norwich last time out, initially starting at wing-back before being quickly switched (four minutes later to be exact) into midfield to cover for Allen, who had run out of energy after making his third start in eight days following his return to full fitness. In response to Latibeaudiere’s late appearance, Robins stated, “…he actually did pretty well in there (defensive midfield), and it’s good to see live against a good side when we’re in control, and know that he can do that job.” That is significant.”

Joel Latibeaudiere
Joel Latibeaudiere

That being the case, surely this weekend would be a great time to start the summer signing from Swansea in the role, leaving Allen to operate higher up where he’s arguably more productive from an attacking standpoint. Yasin Ayari can play as the No.10, but following his amazing performance against QPR, you’d expect Allen to make another extremely significant performance after being rested for a couple of weeks during the international break.

Meanwhile, Latibeaudiere has played 45 minutes for his country in a 4-1 win in Grenada last Friday (Oct 13) and 79 minutes in a 3-2 triumph in Haiti at the start of the new week (Mon, Oct 16), ensuring he has the rest of the week to recover. With a plethora of central defence options available, the 22-year-old may be spared for a one-off task that, if successful, could offer the manager food for thought for the future.

He has nothing to lose by trying, and if nothing else, it would establish Latibeaudiere as a key utility player who can fit into the middle of the park as needed.

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