INTERVIEW: Mark Robins looks ahead to Oxford United, discusses Haji Wright fitness and Yasin Ayari’s loan

Mark Robins is looking forward to FA Cup action this weekend, as the Sky Blues host Oxford United at the Coventry Building Society Arena.

City head into the game in fine form in the Championship, having picked up three wins and a draw in their last four outings.

The Yellows come to Coventry in good form themselves, currently sat 5th in League One, with three wins in their last five.

Speaking ahead of the game, Robins looked back at the festive period, fitness of Haji Wright and Yasin Ayari being recalled by Brighton.


Getting through the busy schedule during the festive period…

“We’ve got a little bit more of a gap between these games, but obviously you’ve got an accumulation of fatigue and what have you.

“I know there’s a lot of talk about players and tiredness or fatigue and people raising eyebrows, but they’ve put an unbelievable amount of effort into those games and the body doesn’t recover that quickly.

“If you keep going at that level, it takes your body time and a little bit longer to recover each time, so you’re always at risk of injury, so they’ve done brilliantly to get through that period.

“We had a couple of days off after the game on Monday and came back in yesterday, so we’re just working into the game.”


The Club’s history with the FA Cup…

“The FA Cup is different, it’s always different. This Club’s had a win in 1987 and it’s a long, long time ago, but everybody remembers it.

“Every Coventry City supporter remembers that who was around at that time and even the ones that weren’t around have seen it and looked at it and obviously that was a landmark time for this football club, and it was the one of the greatest days in the club’s history.

“It was obviously masterminded by John and George and all those players and we speak about them regularly about how they’ve stayed together and the camaraderie and the team bond that still exists and that’s testament to the group and to John and George and all the supporters.

“It’s always a special competition and we say it every year and last year was a particularly disappointing result for us against Wrexham and we want to try and better that certainly tomorrow.”


Coming up against Oxford United…

“We’ve got a really good team to play tomorrow. They’re flying at the top of the league in League One.

“Des Buckingham has come in to take over and obviously he’s part of the City Group and has been working abroad as well over in India, and he’s coming in with some fresh ideas and fresh eyes, and they’ve got some good players in that squad.

“This isn’t an easy game by any stretch of the imagination, and when a team from a lower division plays against a team from a higher division it seems to bring out the best in them.

“We’ve got to bring out the best in ourselves tomorrow and I don’t know what the crowd is going to be, but I’m hoping that we have a sizable crowd in there tomorrow and I really want everybody to come and try and get the atmosphere as good as it’s been in the league games.

“They play. They played a box last week against Charlton and won the game 2-1 and they’ve got some really good experience plays in there.

“Mark Harris is up front for them and he scored last week, Cameron Brannagan is still there and he’s been there for a lot of years now and is a really good player and a good dead ball specialist Marcus McGuane alongside him as well as Josh McEachran and they’ve got some real good experience in there and some quality as well.

“It represents a real good challenge for us and one where we need to be at our best without a shadow of a doubt, because these have got a way of playing and they’re starting to implement a way of playing similar to what we we’d done in the in the division when we were in there.”


Looking to go on a Cup run…

“If we put a good performance in tomorrow and we do things right, there’s a strong possibility that we that we progress into the next round and we want it.

“We want to try and have a cup run, Doug wants a cup run and that was one of the things he said, and I think that is certainly something our supporters like as we know they love a cup run.

“Everybody talks about FA Cup and how interested they are and I just want to see the numbers of the crowd tomorrow and see if the people come along and watch it.”


Haji Wright fitness update…

“He’s okay. He’s just had a feeling of some pain in his Abductor, but He’s okay.

“We speak about the games that we’ve had and the accumulation of all that stuff and it can make people feel a little bit tired.

“Fatigue plays a part, but he’s okay. He’s been offloaded this week after the game on New Year’s Day, but he’s definitely in good spirits.”


Yasin Ayari being recalled…

“I think he’s a really good player. I think he’s been a little bit unfortunate.

“He started off quite brightly as an impact substitute and he made some really good decisions on the ball.

“He created some openings for others and he’s been unlucky with one or two of his effort and he scored a goal that came off the bar and he reacted brilliantly to.

“He’s been a little bit unlucky. The results whilst he was playing weren’t at the level we needed them to be or wanted them to be.

“We changed things, the shape changed and we started picking up more points and it became a little bit more difficult and as time goes on for a young player, it becomes difficult because you expect a certain level of minutes when you come to a club.

“He’s a really good player and he’s going to be a really good player and we wished him all the best yesterday in his future.”



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