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Opposition Lowdown: Playoff-Chasing Coventry City

As we approach the final throws of the season, Reading travel to the West Midlands to face playoff-chasing Coventry City. Join us as we take a look at the opposition.

Queens Park Rangers v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Loftus Road Photo by Kieran Cleeves/PA Images via Getty Images


Coventry finished in 12th-place in the Championship last season, in their second season back in the second tier, bettering their 16th-place finish in 2020/21. They currently sit in eighth place in the league, one point outside the playoffs, following 16 wins, 15 draws and 12 losses.

However, their recent form has been mixed, seeing only one win, three draws and one loss in their last five games. They rescued a point against Blackburn Rovers in midweek after a 95th-minute equaliser from their goalkeeper Ben Wilson.

The two sides faced each other in December, when The Royals beat the Sky Blues 1-0 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium thanks to a goal from defender Amadou Mbengue.

The boss

Mark Robins: Robins began a second spell as Coventry manager in March 2017 when they were in League One, taking over from the Russell Slade, who had been sacked.

He couldn’t save the club from relegation to League Two, but did guide the club back to the third tier 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 United, 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.


Coventry saw five players come through the door during the January transfer window, two signing permanently, with the other three signing on loan for the rest of the season.

All three loanees are defenders, with Brooke Norton-Cuffy signing from Arsenal, Josh Wilson-Esbrand joining from Manchester City and Luke McNally signing from Burnley. Striker Sean Maguire (Preston North End) and defender Riccardo di Trolio (St Albans) both joined on permanent deals.

Midfielders Ben Sheaf and Jamie Allen are both doubts for Saturday’s game as they look to recover from calf and ankle injuries. Goalkeeper Simon Moore, Wingers Callum O’Hare and Kasey Palmer and forward Fabio Tavares are all out for the remainder of the season, so will play no part.

Expected line-up

Wilson, Norton-Cuffy, McNally, McFadzean, Doyle, Bidwell, Kelly, Eccles, Hamer, Godden, Gyokeres

Key player

Viktor Gyokeres: Striker Gyokeres joined Coventry on a permanent deal from Brighton & 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 in his first full season with the club, finishing as top scorer and winning the club’s player of the season award.

Gyokeres has netted 21 times for Coventry so far this season, with only Middlesbrough’s Chuba Akpom outscoring him in the league. He has also won the Championship player of the month award twice this season, in November and March.

One to watch

Callum Doyle: Defender Doyle signed for Coventry on a season-long loan deal from Premier League Man City last summer. Doyle is a graduate of City’s academy, but is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Citizens. He joined Sunderland on a season-long loan deal last season and made his professional debut in August 2021. He went on to make 44 appearances for the Black Cats, as they won promotion from League One.

Doyle has been a regular starter for Coventry this season, making 38 appearances and scoring one goal so far. He has also represented England at under-18, under-19 and under-20 level. 20-year-old Doyle is a central defender, who is a strong tackler with good concentration.