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Interviews

INTERVIEW: Mark Robins talks about the squad, pre-season so far and recruitment

14 August 2020

Manager Mark Robins has reflected on Coventry City’s pre-season schedule and looked ahead to the remaining matches, and also gave an update on recruitment.

After a week off, the Sky Blues squad returned to Ryton for the second part of the pre-season schedule – which coincided with a heatwave in the UK.

“It’s been hot - the weather has been different to what we’re used to, certainly in the UK – it’s similar to what we’d normally get when we’re away training in Spain,” said Robins.

“Everything’s OK – some of the injured players, the ones that have been longer term injured, are getting closer to being fit. The ones that have been on the shorter-term injuries are either back in training now or running. Fanky and Rosey are getting closer all the time which is brilliant news.”

Reflecting on pre-season so far, Robins has said that the aim is to keep building on the progress of last year, which saw City win the League One title and earn promotion to the Championship.

“It’s early days really in terms of the training but we’re looking to build on what we’ve done and what we’ve been doing,” said the Manager.

“It’s just to progress the way that we play, try to improve things and try to get to a level that we’re happy with. There’s still incremental improvements we’re looking at, on top of what we did last year, and the lads who have come in have settled in and it’s been good.

“But this is a pre-season like no other. We’re looking at things and feeling our way a little bit. But if you look at what’s happened even though the season was curtailed, you’re looking at probably 13 months continual work without too much rest, certainly there haven’t been any holidays as such.”

Robins also spoke about the reasoning for the break in the pre-season schedule, which allowed the squad to get some much-needed downtime ahead of the season beginning.

“We’ve broken pre-season into two for a few reasons really - as physically and mentally we have to get to the optimum level for September,” explained the Manager.

“We had an initial three-week period. Everyone knows we went up to Scotland and played against Rangers, had another week back and then had a break for a week. Some of the players went away either in England or elsewhere – we have COVID tests and stay strictly in Government guidelines.

“Clearly Spain was out of the question and other countries too, which is obviously why we haven’t been able to go on tour to Spain this year.

“We’re feeling our way through to a certain degree, but there’s a clear plan and structure that all of the players are aware of now. We returned back on Monday, with the aim of getting ready for the upcoming pre-season games but more importantly for September.”

The Sky Blues’ next game comes on Saturday in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Swindon Town, which will be live on Premier Sports. Robins explained what he will be looking for from the squad on Saturday, and how the match fitness of the squad will continue to be built up.

“All the games are just the next step in the process and trying to get a rhythm” said Robins.

“There will be some players who will play 60 minutes, others will play 45, some will play 30 and I’ll look to flip that around in our next game.

“We’re looking for certain things – movements, understanding, communication. Fitness will be getting up there, but it’s not like a normal pre-season it’s more like a continuation of a season.

Some more normality has returned for the squad at Ryton, but restrictions around the Coronavirus pandemic are still having an effect.

“We’re just trying to get them back into a routine”, Robins said.

“Generally last season we’d have Sunday and Wednesday as a recovery day, so we can train really hard on the Monday and Tuesday or the Thursday and Friday leading up to a game. We’re just trying to get them back used to that feel again and some normality.

“They’ve not been allowed in the building itself yet, so COVID is still having an effect on us. Hopefully shortly once we get sign off they can start to come back inside. We’ve had COVID tests done throughout this period and we’ve been sensible.”

Finally, the Manager gave an update on recruitment. With a number of players added to the City squad in July ahead of many teams beginning their business, August has been quieter – but Robins confirmed that work is still ongoing.

“We’re still working on recruitment,” Robins said.

“Things may seem from the outside to have slowed down but they haven’t.

“Clearly there is a huge issue around COVID and finance for lots of clubs. But we’ve got to thank the Board and the Owner for helping us to get the players we did in as early as we did. But also, we’re playing catch up and we’ve got a bridge to gap from League One to the Championship.

“While it might seem it’s slowed down, it hasn’t behind the scenes. We’re just ramping things up now to try and do some more bits of business.”


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