FOOTBALL: THE SKY Blues will be looking to take the first steps on the road to what would be one of the club’s greatest escape as Mark Robins marks his return as manager with a home clash against Bradford City.
Stuart McCall’s Bantams are fifth in the League One table and have only lost two of their last 16 league games, with just five defeats all season.
In contrast, the Sky Blues have won just five matches all season and are 13 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table.
Robins has spoken of the qualities in a Bradford side looking to push for automatic promotion as they sit five points off the top two with ten games remaining.
“Bradford will be trying to get into an automatic position,” said Robins. “They’ve been trying for a few years now.
“Stuart McCall’s come in and built on what they were doing. They’ve good experience and have added to that with Charlie Wyke. They will be looking to turn us over.”
There will be a familiar face back at the Ricoh Arena when Romain Vincelot lines up for Bradford against his former club.
Vincelot was a firm fan’s favourite during his short time with the Sky Blues and was a key cog in Tony Mowbray’s side which missed out on promotion last season.
Tricky winger Mark Marshall made 14 appearances for the Sky Blues back in 2014 and is also likely to start today.
Robins also noted that today’s opponents have ‘legs’ in midfield including with Nicky Law who was with him at Rotherham United, who Robins added may be out with injury.
“Vincelot did really well here last season and became a fans’ favourite alongside John Fleck. And with Joe Cole coming in it made it difficult for opponents.”
One player Robins will be without is midfielder Andy Rose who is set to miss the remainder of the season with a torn medial knee ligament injury picked up last week at Shrewsbury.
Despite relegation being a forgone conclusion for many fans, Robins remains optimistic about the task ahead.
He gave the example of Barcelona’s recent performances, while of course acknowledging the difference in the level of football.
The former Huddersfield and Scunthorpe boss added: “We have to put a performance in that moves things forward.. that there is a desire to do well.
“One win and momentum builds. For young lads forging a career for themselves, a club like this is a great opportunity for them.
“We have to stick together and make sure we come out of it the other side. It’s about sticking together and having a go.
“Fans can play a massive part, if there is positivity around the stadium and fans don’t get on the players backs early on.”
Loan striker Dan Agyei fired the Sky Blues in front the last time the two sides met at Valley Parade back August, but after Jordan Turnbull was sent off, second half goals from Tony McMahon (2) and Mark Marshall earned Bradford a 3-1 win.
The Sky Blues beat Bradford when they last met at the Ricoh Arena last season in April, with Andy Rose scoring the only goal of the game that day.
Coverage of today’s game will feature on our live blog from 2.30pm with updates on Twitter, @covobservernews