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Opposition Lowdown: Mark Robins’ Coventry City

Reading’s first match back after the World Cup break, sees the Royals take on Coventry City at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Coventry City v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship - Coventry Building Society Arena Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images


Coventry finished in 12th place in the Championship last season, in their second season back in the Championship, bettering their 16th place finish in 2020/21. They currently sit in 12th position in the league, but have played two games fewer than the majority of other teams after a number of fixture postponements because of the state of the pitch at The Coventry Building Society Arena.

They have won eight, drawn five and lost six games so far this season, with five of their wins coming at home. Their away form has been mixed with half of their losses coming on the road. The Sky Blues claimed a double over the Royals last season, winning 2-1 at home in August last year and 2-3 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in February.

The boss

Mark Robins: Robins began a second spell as Coventry manager in March 2017, taking over from Russell Slade, who had been sacked. He couldn’t save the club from relegation to League Two, but did guide the club back into League One at their first attempt, beating Exeter City in the playoff final. He then guided The Sky Blues to a second promotion in 2019/20, winning the League One title on a points-per-game basis after the season was ended prematurely due to Covid.

He has secured 16th- and 12th-placed positions in the Championship since Coventry’s return to the second tier. Robins started his managerial career at Rotherham before spells at Barnsley, Coventry, Huddersfield Town and Scunthorpe United. The former striker likes his sides to play short passing football and usually utilises attacking wing backs.

Reading v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Select Car Leasing Stadium Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images


Coventry had a relatively quiet summer with only one player coming in on a permanent deal, with the signing of midfielder Kasey Palmer following his release from Bristol City. They have also bought in three loan signings with centre backs Jonathan Panzo and Callum Doyle joining from Nottingham Forest and Man City and left back Tayo Adaramola arriving from Crystal Palace.

Reading academy product Dominic Hyam was the only major outgoing, with the defender joining Blackburn Rovers on a permanent deal. Winger Jodi Jones and defender Josh Pask were both released at the end of their contracts, while Jordan Shipley moved to Shrewsbury for an undisclosed fee.

City will be without defender Kyle McFadzean, who is out with a calf injury. Midfielder Kasey Palmer and forward Tyler Walker are also likely to miss out this weekend.

Expected line-up

Wilson, Panzo, Rose, Doyle, Eccles, Bidwell, Hamer, Sheaf, O’Hare, Allen, Gyokeres

Key player

Viktor Gyokeres: Striker Gyokeres joined Coventry on a permanent deal from Brighton and Hove Albion in July 2021, following a successful loan spell the previous season. He started his youth career in his homeland of Sweden and started his professional career with IF Brommapojkarna. He signed for Brighton in January 2018 and made his debut for the Seagulls that August. The Swede then had loan spells at German side St Pauli and Swansea City before signing on loan for Coventry in January 2021.

He scored three goals in his loan spell and then a further 18 goals in his first full season with the club, finishing top scorer and winning the club’s player of the season award. Gyokeres has scored nine times for Coventry so far this season and has just won the Championship player of the month award for November.

One to watch

Callum O’Hare: Attacking midfielder O’Hare originally joined Coventry on loan from Aston Villa for the 2019/20 season, but signed permanently for the Sky Blues the following summer, following his release from Villa. He was at the Villans for 15 years, having made his way through their academy and made his debut for the club in August 2017.

O’Hare played nine times for Villa, prior to a loan spell at Carlisle United in January 2019 and then Coventry the following season. The attacking midfielder can play in either the number 10 role or on the right-hand side of midfield and likes to dribble with the ball.