The Sky Blues make the journey to Spotland on the back of Saturday’s victory over Wigan Athletic, awaiting them will be a Rochdale side who also picked up a win on the opening day of the season. With City being eliminated at the first hurdle in the competition last season, Tony Mowbray will be hoping for better this time around.
After the calibre of performance at the weekend, supporters will be in optimistic mood and the few hundred making the trip will be hoping for a good display. The same will be said of Rochdale however, I’m sure Keith Hill, his players and supporters would love a cup run.
With only one game being played so far, it’s difficult to look in to the form of each side and whether it will have any relevance. Both Coventry City and Rochdale picked up 2-0 wins versus much-fancied opposition, so confidence will be high within both camps.
Rochdale have a largely fit squad to select from for the tie with only two players missing out through injury. Holding midfield pair, Matt Lund and Rhys Bennett are both unavailable, the aforementioned has undergone surgery on his knee whilst the latter has a broken arm.
In terms of players returning to the side, Joe Rafferty will be available after suspension whilst Lewis Alessandra and Ashley Eastham will be expected to start after missing out in the fixture versus Peterborough at the weekend.
The Sky Blues also have little injury worries going in to the fixture and Tony Mowbray has enough quality to choose from in order to win the game. Whilst he has said that the league is more important – which it is – he’ll still want to progress so I can see a fairly strong lineup, although a few youngsters may be thrown in.
Of course, hero of the weekend, Adam Armstrong won’t feature due to the on-loan striker being cup-tied by Newcastle United. In terms of other absentees there is only one as Jordan Willis misses out after suffering a minor head injury. Conor Thomas could be back in contention however after edging towards fitness following a concussion sustained during the early stages of pre-season.
One to watch… Jamie Allen
After joining the club aged 8, Allen has progressed through the youth ranks and he now captains his hometown club. Still only 20 years old, the composed midfielder has cemented himself in the Dale side and he is one of the first names on the team sheet.
Leadership is a trait that Allen possesses and he skippered the youth team before making his first-team debut in Rochdale’s promotion campaign in League Two. In his first season he impressed in a more advanced role but he now operates as a holding midfielder. With outstanding technical ability, burning pace, power and aerial aptitude for his height, the Sky Blues will certainly be cautious of him.
View from the dugout…
“Whatever the outcome we move on. I am not belittling it but we have to concentrate on the next League game and getting points.”
“We know Rochdale is a tough fixture and we’re looking forward to it. We have one or two knocks and the team will reflect that.”
“Hopefully we have come up with a way of giving Rochdale a game. I’m not trying to be too clever but ideally we’d have players to play every formation. Some days we’ll play with three strikers but it’s horses for courses.”
Whilst I clearly want to see the Sky Blues win every game, I can also see why people may think a loss would be a ‘blessing in disguise’. With such a thin squad we don’t want to increase the chance of injuries due to extra midweek games being added to an already hectic schedule. However, wins breed confidence and a ‘winning mentality’ so a victory would be very welcome.
Of course the emphasis is on performing in the league but I think any City supporter would relish a cup run and a potential trip to a ‘big club’ in the next round. I can see the lineups being tinkered with a little and we may see both sides handing starts to players who didn’t feature at the weekend.
Due to the fact that it’s a difficult task to predict how both Keith Hill and Tony Mowbray will set up, it becomes an even tougher result to call. I believe that we will field a fairly strong lineup and we do have enough quality to get past a competitive Rochdale side, let’s hope we leave Spotland knowing we’ll be in the second round.
My score prediction… Rochdale 1-2 Coventry City