10th Dec, 2016

Joe Cole backs Sky Blues youngsters to flourish under Tony Mowbray

Steve Carpenter 19th May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

THE FUTURE is looking bright for the Sky Blues according to former England star Joe Cole who was impressed with the talent coming through during his short time at the club and he is predicting a big things for young striker George Thomas.

Cole ended a seven-month spell with the Sky Blues earlier this month after moving his family across to Florida in America to play in the North American Soccer League with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.

He was limited to 22 appearances last season in League One, but it was Cole’s off the field influence that will perhaps have a more long term positive effect for Tony Mowbray’s side.

The 34-year-old will forever be known as one of the greatest England talents and his hugely impressive football CV, which includes Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup medals as well as over 50 England caps, made him the perfect role model for the next generation of academy stars looking to break into Mowbray’s first team.

“Where I was coming from when I couldn’t keep myself match fit,” Cold told the Observer. “I really wanted to minimise my time on the training pitch and save it for games.

“I would like to go down the coaching road in the future but at Coventry my thing was chatting to the lads and trying to give them good advice that I can pass onto them.

“I’d like to think they will all take something from the way I’ve played, trained and talked to them because I genuinely want them to do well.

“That would be great for me, leaving here knowing that I’ve helped some of the young players to develop on and off the pitch.

“There’s been a lot of players that have caught my eye and I’ve said to a lot of them you’re in the best place to do your learning.

“Obviously you need to make your living and earn money but under Tony (Mowbray) and Jamie’s (Clapham) tutorage and the way the club plays, they’re in a great place.

“It’s an ideal working environment to learn the game and James Maddison is one player who has beneffited and come on bundles.

“It would be unfair of me to single out lots of them but if you ask me for one I really like George Thomas.

“I thought he was excellent against Sheffield United. He’s got an old head on young shoulders and I think he can go on and score 10-15 goals next season.

“But so many of them have impressed me and I’ve enjoyed working with them. They’re all a great bunch of lads and real hard workers.”

George Thomas has received high praise from former England star Joe Cole. (s)

Cole joined the Sky Blues with Mowbray’s side flying high in League One. Promotion back to the Championship was the hot topic around the city and it looked almost certain that a place in the top six would be a minimum guarantee come the end of the season.

But despite Cole’s impact on the pitch, the Sky Blues struggled for goals in the second part of the season and ended up five points away from the League One play-offs.

It was tough to take for Cole who wanted to put promotion on his CV, however he still looks back at a ‘positive’ season but ponders what might have been.

“I think football is a funny game and it depends on what way you want to look back at the season.

“At one point in the season we were just one win away from going back to the top of the league and then we fell away, but we’ve come back and finished strong.

“It depends which way you look at it. Some people will look back on the season with a bit of disappointment because we didn’t make the play-offs but I think it’s important to look at the bigger picture and look at the job the manager, Claps (Jamie Clapham) and all the players have done in getting to that points tally.

“I think you’ve got to take that and keep the momentum going – that’s vital for the club which has been starved for success.

“It’s a shame the season has ended as it is. I felt I’ve got a bit stronger as the season has gone on and they way we finished with the three home wins maybe with another couple of games we could have got into the play-offs.

“I think it’s important for the club going forward to look at what the gaffer’s done since he’s come here and the fact the points total is one of the highest it’s been for a number of years, which shows that there’s been a lot of progress.

“I don’t know the ins and outs of what goes on behind the scenes at the club, but I know that if you give the manager the right backing and transfers, and let them bring in the players they feel are needed, I’m pretty sure that come Christmas time the club will be in the hunt.

“I’m confident the club the club at the very least will be in the top six this time next year.”

Cole has already revealed to the Observer that the Sky Blues are top of his list when he returns from Amercia for the mid-season break, but before then he is looking forward to following in the footsteps of former England team mates Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and

“It’s a lovely place where we’re going and it’s great opportunity,” Cole added. “My competitive side will make sure I go out that and not take my foot off the gas – I want to win football matches.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last three games in which I’ve played in centre midfield. I’ve felt I’ve had more impact on the game in terms of controlling it and that’s the sort of position I’m going to be playing out there, which is something that comes natural to me.

“I’m looking forward to the football first and foremost and also I’m looking forward to the different lifestyle as well. I’ll try and embrace it and enjoy myself as best I can but I’m there to play football.

“There’s a big project going on there. Football is really finding its feet and there’s all sorts of future things going on and I’m glad to be a part of it.”