Liam Kelly is looking forward to the Sky Blues return to league action against Bristol City on Saturday afternoon.
The Sky Blues were crowned Sky Bet League One champions following the curtailment of the 2019/20 season, with their last league game coming against Ipswich Town back in March.
The game with Bristol this weekend will be City’s first Championship outing in eight years and whilst Kelly is expecting a tough season, he can’t wait to get the season underway.
Kelly said: “There’s a lot of excitement within the squad, it’s been a long time since we last played a league game, we’ve had a very good pre-season, and everyone is chomping at the bit and can’t wait to get going.
“Hopefully, we can continue our good form last season, we got a good result against MK Dons last week with 10-men, we just want to continue that and set ourselves on our way.
“We just need to take it one game at a time, we had a very good season last year and some very good players have come in, but we’re under no illusions, it’s going to be a very tough season and the quality of the opposition that we’re facing is going to get better, each game is going to be difficult.
“There’s no easy games, from the outside looking in, everybody would be happy with the club staying in the Championship next season, but for me, and the players in the dressing room, we’re just going to approach it one game at a time and see how far we can take it.
“We’ve worked very hard in this off season, it’s been a long pre-season for ourselves and we’re more than ready for this game tomorrow.”
Prior to joining the Sky Blues, the skipper spent around 18 months with the Robins only for his spell at Ashton Gate to be disrupted by a cruciate ligament injury, with Kelly expecting a tough game against his former side on Saturday.
“They’re a team with a big budget and good quality players who will be looking to try and get promoted this season, they need to start the season well and they need to hit the ground running.
“I enjoyed my time there, but I had a bad injury which clouded most of my time there, but I look forward to going back, it’s a good football club, full of good people, but make no mistake about it, we’re going there to win tomorrow.
“I was determined to have a good career at Bristol City, unfortunately the injury derailed me and I had to go away and spent a lot of time working on my fitness and get working down the leagues and back up the leagues to get myself to this point, so I’m more than ready for the task this season.”
Kelly has helped the Sky Blues achieve two promotions during his time with the club and wants to extend City’s current unbeaten run in the league to 15 matches.
“It’s been a great journey since being at the club, having joined in League Two, we’ve had two promotions in that time and it will be fantastic for me, personally, to lead them out in the Championship, but it’s about the result.
“We’re not just here to rest on our laurels, we want to keep pushing this football club and see how far we can take it and that starts tomorrow.
“The core of the squad is still there, that went on that unbeaten run, and we just need to try and continue that confidence and build it into Saturday and this league campaign, how good the group is together and how hard-working we are, has been vital to our success.
“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves, we’ve done a lot of hard work in the last few seasons, and in the off season building into this, so if we concentrate on ourselves and the football we play and how close this team is, if we keep building on that then hopefully we can go on and have a successful season this year.”
He also spoke about the injury suffered by Jodi Jones earlier this week and is devastated for the 22-year-old who had only just returned from a previous anterior cruciate ligament injury.
“I’ve not spoken to Jodi yet, I think Jodi is just taking a little bit of time to himself, which he is more than entitled to, and when he’s ready to come back, everyone is here for him, everyone just feels really, really, bad for him.
“He’s worked incredibly hard over the last two years, it’s taken a lot of physical and mental strength to get himself back to scoring goals in pre-season and getting close to playing again, for this to happen is just devastating.
“Everyone that knows Jodi knows how mentally strong he is, and he’ll come back even stronger than before, but all out thoughts are with Jodi at this time and we’re very much going to be there for him.”