27th May, 2022

Russell Slade blessed with attacking more options for home clash against relegation rivals Swindon Town

Steve Carpenter 24th Feb, 2017 Updated: 24th Feb, 2017

FOOTBALL: RUSSELL Slade admits he faces a welcome selection headache in attack ahead of Saturday’s crunch relegation clash against Swindon Town at the Ricoh Arena.

The Sky Blues have another chance to close the gap on themselves and the other teams above them in the relegation zone when they host struggling Swindon on Saturday.

And manager Slade has plenty of attacking options to choose from after he confirmed this week that Stuart Beavon and Charles Vernam, on loan from Derby, are both back in contention.

With Kwame and George Thomas both in good goalscoring form, Marcus Tudgay having played 11 times under the new manager, and with Yakubu eager to make an impact on his return to English football.

Slade also faces a selection dilemma in defence to with skipper Jordan Willis back in contention for a return after five games out through injury and suspension.

“The good thing is it creates competition for places,” Slade told the Observer.

“That means sometimes players will up their game and I think now, more than ever, to have your forwards back is crucial and that competition for places now, is as good or is becoming as strong as it’s been since I’ve been here.

“Jordan Turnbull has put in a couple of decent performances recently and that’s probably in his world, with the competition at the back now, made it not easy to get in the team.

“It was probably Dion Kelly-Evans’ best all round performance since I’ve been here last week.

“He’s played well in parts in some of the other games, but his all round performance for 95 minutes was really solid on Saturday.

“He’s a good lad as well. It won’t be through a lack of trying with him. It was a real solid performance he put in.”

 

One player who looked guaranteed to make his 11th start for the Sky Blues on Saturday is midfielder Callum Reilly.

The 23-year-old, on loan from Championship outfit Burton Albion, is improving game by game and Slade singled out the former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international as one of his best signings since joining the club in December.

“When players haven’t played for a while sometimes that bit of sharpness and edge to their game goes missing, but he’s got that edge back naturally he’s got good energy and he gets himself into good forward positions.

“He’s provided us with several assists, he’s unfortunate not to have got a goal or two himself already this season.

“He’s really playing his part, he’s really buying into what we’re trying to do here and he’s becoming a very big player for us.”

The Sky Blues have not beaten Swindon in their last 12 meetings in the league, with the last City league win against the Robins coming way back in 1964.

Three points on Saturday could bring Slade’s side to within two points of Saturday’s opponents, and more importantly move the Sky Blues to within six points of League One safety, the manager knows his side have to be at their best again.

“It’s a crucial game because they’re right down there with us – there’s no point trying to hide that. It’s a huge game from that point of view.

“Swindon are a technical side and they’ve got threats going forward – there’s no doubt about that with Jonathan Obika and Nicky Ajose. They have also taken Ben Gladwin from QPR so they’ve got threats.

“They are a possession based team so they like to go forward, they like to be controlling the ball so it will be an interesting game for sure.

“We’ve got to be very positive. We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they don’t get any fluidity to their game. We have to put them under pressure and in that final third have that little bit of quality that we showed in the last game.

“Our final ball or final finish was more ruthless than what he has been previously and we need to build on that. Let’s see if we can score more from the chances that we’re creating. That’s my message to the players.”

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