Mark Robins pulled a surprise on Coventry City fans when he named star defender Michael Rose on the bench for Saturday’s Carabao Cup clash at MK Dons.
The 24-year-old was not due back from a lockdown hip operation until the end of September but is clearly ahead of schedule with his return to full fitness.
That’s a huge boost to the Sky Blues, who kick off their new league campaign this weekend with a tough opening day trip to one of the Championship’s promotion favourites, Bristol City.
Whether Saturday comes too soon for the cultured centre-back remains to be seen and Robins will have a clearer idea after he’s played in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Tuesday as Robins wraps up the club’s pre-season preparations.
Summer loan signing from Brighton, Leo Ostigard, is due back from international duty with Norway Under-21s later this week and will be City’s most senior option to join Kyle McFadzean and Dom Hyam in the back three.
Keen to get Rose back involved as soon as possible, Robins told CoventryLive: “I wanted to try to get him on the pitch but it was just too much.
“He will play in a game on Tuesday and get the minutes that way and hopefully we’ll see where he’s at.
“But yes, he’s not too far away. His fitness levels are a bit away and clearly it’s a tough level.
“But let’s see what the week brings.”
As for being ahead of schedule with his return, Robins said: “It’s brilliant.
“You can’t have too many good players and I was tempted to use him, tempted to put him on against MK Dons but I wanted to have two strikers. I couldn’t do that because of the way they were playing. It would have killed us.
“And it was probably too much for Rosey. I wanted another one up front but my first thought was to sacrifice that and get Rosey on, but it would have been a big ask and not fair on him.
“So I resisted and it was important for me to get two strikers on and take the game to them. And after an hour it felt like the right time to do that because they had started to die away a little bit.”