A LACK of goals so far this season has been a cause for concern for Sky Blues boss Tony Mowbray and one player who has been tipped to solve the issue by his former coach is Academy striker Jordan Ponticelli.
With the Sky Blues struggling to find a clinical edge in front of goal despite Mowbray now having seven strikers at his disposal, some fans are calling on the manager to give young striker Ponticelli his professional debut.
The 17-year-old moved to the Sky Blues back in April from the hugely successful Strachan Football Foundation (SFF) and since then the teenager has continued to impress by scoring 15 goals in 14 appearances for the club’s Under-18s and Under-21s.
One man who knows all about his talents is SFF managing director and UEFA ‘A’ licenced coach Dan Elliott, who has known Ponticelli for over two years.
“At the beginning he contacted us and he had already arranged it with his school to spend four days there and one with us – that was the type of kid he was,” Elliot told the Observer.
“His attitude from day one set him apart and it’s a very rare attitude to have. We get kids with good attitude but this kid was brilliant.
“He knew what he wanted. He wanted to join SFF and then within a year he wanted to be at a club and he did just that by joining Coventry.”
Ponticelli played for Leicester Road’s first team before joining SFF where he was part of a government funded education scheme which provides young footballers with a chance to study while playing football as an alternative to college of sixth form.
Based in Rugby, the young striker quickly caught the eye of the coaches, but it was his attitude in the classroom too which has given him a good grounding ahead of what looks to be a promising career on the football pitch.
“His work rate was exceptional and he was always wanting to learn,” Elliott continued. “He was always asking questions. He absorbed everything but he came in with a great attitude and you couldn’t say a bad word about him.
“It wasn’t just about how he played football, but it was he he approached the programme and absorbed the education side if things too. He knew that good grades would lead to a good career.”
As for his attributes, Elliot describes Ponticelli as a direct striker who likes to play with the ball in front of him and make things happen.
“Realistically he knows he’s not the complete article yet but he always seems to make the right decisions.
“When he’s not scoring you’ll see him frustrated but he’s motivated to help the team.
“I’m not surprised to see him doing so well so quickly at Coventry City. He’s got a kind of positive selfish edge about him which good strikers need.”
Asked if he is ready to be thrown in at the deep end should he be selected by Tony Mowbray, Elliott added: “Every time he’s had to step up he’s done it.
“He did it when he joined us and he’s doing it again now at Coventry. He’s moved on to a higher level at Coventry and hasn’t struggled.
“You look at Marcus Radford. Without injuries to other players he wouldn’t have been near the first team and perhaps a similar situation could work in Jordan’s favour.
“He’s not ready to start but he could be a real impact player when teams are tiring with 20 minutes to go.
“If he comes on he’ll put 90 minutes’ worth of effort into 20. When the game goes into that final stage he’ll change the balance. He’ll run his socks off and he deserves it.
“He still comes to our games now. He hasn’t forgotten us and I think that shows how grounded he is.”
Fellow coach Chay Thompson has seen many players come through the SFF education programme but feels Ponticelli is the best of the bunch.
And he predicts the teenager could play at the top flight if his attitude and dedication remains the same.
He added: “When I first saw him I didn’t know he was 15. He played like he was much older and I knew straight away that we had a good player.
“He didn’t need much coaching – it was more man management. It was a case of us guiding him in the right direction and making him believe in himself.
“There was a lot of interest but for him his boyhood dream was to play for Coventry City.
“I don’t think it would have worked if he’d gone to Leicester and then gone out on loan to a League Two or National League club. He’s got a better chance of making it in the first team at Coventry.
“I’d put him in the squad for this Saturday’s trip to Millwall. Why not? We’re struggling for goals at the moment and he’s knocking them in for fun. He’ll thrive on the opportunity and give it his all.”