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League 1 Spotlight: Coventry City

Tom Hancock assesses the Sky Blues.

16 July 2018

After spending a season in the fourth tier for the first time since the late 50s, Coventry are on the up again. May’s play-off final victory over Exeter ensured their return to League One at the first time of asking.

Prior to 2012’s relegation to this level, the Sky Blues had spent the best part of half a century in the top two divisions, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they belong there. Their off-field issues may be ongoing, but Mark Robins’ exciting young side and the buzz they’ve created have given fans reason to believe.

Coventry’s defence was a key factor in their top seven finish last season, with their 47 goals conceded bettered only by champions Accrington and runners up Luton – although their 64 scored also ranked among the best in the division.

Only time will tell how well the Sky Blues will cope with the departure of star striker Marc McNulty – who netted 25 of those 64 – so having that defensive solidity could prove even more important in 2018/19 than it did last time around. As long as the goals don’t dry up dramatically, it’s not unrealistic to think that the Sky Blues can compete for another play-off finish.

Last season: 6th in League Two (play-off winners)

In charge: Mark Robins
Appointed to this post for the second time last March, Robins succeeded Russell Slade. In addition to his previous spell with the Sky Blues between 2012 and 2013, the 48-year-old Lancastrian has managed Rotherham, Barnsley, Huddersfield and Scunthorpe.

A striker as a player, Robins started out at Manchester United, scoring the goal that arguably kept Sir Alex Ferguson in the job just over three years into his tenure: a late winner at Nottingham Forest in the third round of the 1989/90 FA Cup. He went on to turn out for the likes of Norwich – netting twice on the opening day of the first ever Premier League season in a 4-2 win over Arsenal – Leicester – where he won the League Cup in 1997 – Manchester City, Walsall and Rotherham, as well as spending time in Denmark, Spain and Greece. He won the prestigious Toulon Tournament with England U21s in 1990.

Star player: Jodi Jones
Jones would have lit up League Two last season if injury hadn’t ended his campaign in November. He already was lighting it up to an extent, notching five goals and six assists in his 19 appearances up to that point, and generally turning heads with his performances. An undoubted talent, the 20-year-old winger turned down several top flight clubs as a youngster, instead rising through the ranks at Dagenham & Redbridge, but he could well be attracting interest from the Premier League and Championship in the not too distant future.

Key ins: Robust centre-forward Johnson Clarke-Harris, who impressed during his loan spell from Rotherham earlier this year, has signed permanently on a free transfer. Midfielders Abu Ogogo and Zain Westbrooke have joined from Shrewsbury and Brentford respectively on frees – the former captained the Shrews, while the latter was skipper of the Bees’ B Team. Left-backs Junior Brown and Brandon Mason have arrived also arrived on frees from Shrewsbury and Watford respectively, with England U19 right-back Dujon Sterling joining on a season-long loan from Chelsea.

Key outs: The aforementioned Marc McNulty has signed for Championship Reading, while left-back Ryan Haynes has replaced the outgoing Brown at Shrewsbury. Both players have moved for undisclosed fees.

EFL head-to-head:
Meetings: 2
Wycombe wins: 0
Coventry wins: 2
Draws: 0

First meeting: 22/12/2017 (League Two): Coventry 3-2 Wycombe (Wycombe scorers: Dan Scarr, Joe Jacobson (p))

Last meeting: 27/02/2018 (League Two): Wycombe 0-1 Coventry


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