“Bring it on” was the message from an upbeat Coventry City boss Mark Robins this morning ahead of Monday’s League Two play-off final at Wembley.
Speaking at a press conference at Ryton training ground, he said all the players were fit and training, including top scorer Marc McNulty who had sat out training with a hamstring strain last week before putting in a sparkling performance during the scintillating 4-1 semi-final second leg victory at Notts County on Friday.
Robins said: “Preparation couldn’t have gone any better. The gap between games is good for recovery time, so ‘bring it on’.
“Our routine will be the same as last year (for the trip to Wembley for the Checkatrade Trophy final). We’ll stay in the same place as last season. We’ll be going down at the same time.”
With around 35,000 Coventry City tickets sold as of last night for the clash with Exeter City for promotion to League One, he said: “It’s exciting. The supporters are again coming out in their droves and are backing us. We want to respond.
“It’s few and far between when you get the opportunity to play at Wembley. I got to Wembley in the FA Cup final in my first season and you think it’s the norm. But it doesn’t happen all the time.
“The expectations of playing for Coventry have been with them all season. They’ve got to the final and got themselves a really good chance to get promoted at the first attempt.
“We’re playing a good side with an experienced manager.
“The big thing for me is the shift from when I came through the door to now is immeasurable. The connection between the supporters and players is as good as I’ve seen anywhere. The players have responded off that. It’s been there to see all season.
“Notts County on Friday was a great night and it will live with people for a long time.
“In spells it was our best performance of the season. That game was special. There was a lot riding on that.
“We’ve got to Wembley. We’ll take a deep breath and we’ll go again and make sure we give our best.
“If we get close to 100 per cent with every individual, we won’t be far away.
“They’re a really good bunch of lads, a talented group. It’s one thing saying we want promotion, it’s another thing doing it, especially at a club that’s been on the slide. Turning that juggernaut around is difficult. We lost two of our most creative players and they’ve been nothing short of magnificent.
“The way the league has been this season, it’s a difficult league. A physical challenge week in week out with different quality of pitches.
“If we get a chance to get out of it, we have to take it, and they are equipped to go and do it.
“The worst thing that could happen is if people freeze and don’t embrace the game. It’s about going out and having fun. Don’t have regrets, have fun. Go and reproduce the Notts County performance.
“The opponents are good. They’ll have a say in it. We can’t take anything for granted. In sport and life you have to focus and give your best all the time. We have to make sure we play the conditions right.
“We’ll have more supporters there. That will inspire us but it will be a great atmosphere for both teams.”
Of the approach to Exeter, Robins characteristically kept his cards close to his chest, saying: “Our approach has been the same all season. To try and win games and play as good football as we can. They’ve got various threats and weaknesses that we have to make sure we deal with and exploit.
“That’s what we’ve been working on and we continue to work on. The excitement starts to build from today, it gets a little closer.
“If we win the game we’re playing at a higher level. These are the games you want. That’s why we are in football.”
Asked if he considered Exeter a footballing side as many have recently been commenting, or the physical and well organised team that the Sky Blues encountered this season – with a home win and away defeat – he said they could “mix it up” and play various styles.
Of McNulty, who has now scored 28 goals this season, he said: “He’s fine. He trained the other day. He had a day off yesterday. We’ll train again today. Then the build-up starts.”
Asked if he was concerned about players such as McNulty leaving in the summer, he said: “People will be interested in him anyway. It’s the first time he’s played south of the border with consistency. He had been loaned out to Portsmouth and Bradford but he’s started to work harder with Michael Doyle’s boot up his backside.”
Of his Skipper Doyle, he said: “He’s a top player. He’s been a leader. He’s very competitive. Even when he goes for a walk he wants to be first and he’ll kick you if you walk past him. He expects the same of everyone around him.”