Mark Robins is finally looking ahead to the prospect of all of his Coventry City players being fit for the remainder of the Championship campaign.
The Sky Blues have suffered with an extensive list of injuries and illness this season which went up to nine last weekend, resulting in the manager having just 20 fit senior players for his 20-man matchday squad to face Watford.
But things are looking up on the injury front with three senior players set to return for Saturday’s trip to Cardiff City, and three more due to return to training next week.
Here, Robins gives an injury update:
The summer signing is set to be back involved for the first time this weekend since suffering a calf strain since at Sheffield Wednesday just before Christmas, missing nine games to date.
The striker made a return to training last week and Robins revealed: “He has been training this week, so he’s training normally again and starting to look sharper, so good.”
The goalkeeper tested positive for COVID-19 a week last Monday (Feb 1), forcing him to self isolate for ten days and miss the games against Nottingham Forest and Watford.
But he was back in training on Thursday in time to prepare for the game against the Bluebirds and giving Robins a selection headache after first choice stopper Marko Marosi’s return to the side.
The striker has been following the concussion protocols for a return after being stretchered off following a clash with Forest keeper Brice Samba, and should be back in the squad this weekend.
”He was back at Ryton last week and all things being equal he should be available for the next game after Watford,” said the manager.
The Frenchman was outstanding against Forest and followed up that eye-catching display with another impressive showing against the Hornets, getting through 64 minutes before being helped off the pitch at St Andrew’s by the physio and club doctor.
But initial fears that he had suffered a concussion were allayed when it was realised he was suffering with a migraine.
The influential skipper’s absence is a huge loss to the side but he returned to the grass last week and is scheduled to join in training with his team-mates from Monday.
The midfielder’s last appearance helped City secure their first away win of the season when he scored two goals before half-time at Wycombe Wanderers where he suffered a serious groin strain.
A scan showed the extent of the damage which was thought would keep Kelly out for up to three months.
But he’s clearly ahead of schedule, with Robins revealing: “Liam Kelly has been running on the grass and will hopefully re-join the group on Monday.”
As for Sheaf’s hamstring injury suffered against Forest, Robins was initially told he could be out for anything between seven days to three weeks.
But the good news from the physio is that he’s coming along nicely, with Robins revealing he’s back on the grass running this week.
Star wing-back Dabo suffered medial knee ligament damage against Sheffield Wednesday, being forced off at half-time in the 2-0 win.
The initial prognosis was that he could be missing for anything between one and three months with a grade one tear, the least serious of the three grade assessment.
Giving an update on his progress, Robins said: “He’s running on the Alter-G, where his body weight is taken down.
“And once he’s cleared that treadmill he will go onto the grass again, so he’s not that far away.
“I think probably next week he’s pencilled in to re-join the group.”
Matty Godden’s prognosis after breaking down against Millwall on January 2 was that he could be out anything between two to three months.
But there appears to be a breakthrough on the horizon, with Robins revealing: “Matty is tolerating some manipulation of his injured foot, so that’s a step forward, although it is slow going.”
Asked if he hopes to see some success with that in weeks rather than months, he added: “Yes, and it will. Everyone just wants him back, as we do all the injured players.
“Hopefully he’ll feel it plateau and really start to improve over the coming weeks and that we can get him back on the grass as soon as possible.”
The fans’ favourite was hoped to have put his injury nightmare behind him when he bagged back to back stunning goals in pre-season ahead of the new Championship campaign.
The 22-year-old was showing all the signs of being back to his best and finally able to realise his huge potential after recovering from two ACL injuries to his left knee – the first happening at Stevenage in November 2017.
Following his recovery from that setback, Jones broke down almost exactly a year later in November 2018 against Peterborough United with a recurring rupture in the same knee.
More than 12 months on again and the lively forward made a tentative return to action against MK Dons in the Football League Trophy before playing a string of Under-23 games to build up his strength and fitness.
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COVID-19 then brought a halt to the season, giving the player longer than anticipated to get himself fighting fit ahead of the 2020/21 campaign in the second tier.
But on Friday, September 4, Jones suffered the same injury for a third time, this time to his right knee, which will now see him out of action for at least the next nine months.
He was back on the grass at Ryton this week, however, and Robins revealed he hopes the player could be available before the end of the season.
The young centre-half suffered a freak injury in the shower when he slipped in his flip-flops, resulting in a nasty cut to a toe.
The initial prognosis was that he could be missing for anything from a couple of weeks to being out for the season.
But Robins revealed last week (Fri, Feb 5): “There’s been some improvement and they are quite happy with the way that’s healing, so I am quite hopeful on him not being out too much longer.”