Doyle relishing the chance to Saddle up in cup
VETERAN Coventry City captain Michael Doyle has played every league game so far this season.
He’s sat the out the Checkatrade Trophy group games, as he did last season, and was an unused substitute in the EFL Cup in August as manager Mark Robins looks to conserve the hugely influential skipper’s energy for the League One campaign.
Doyle played in the FA Cup last season when City got to the fifth round of the competition, seeing off Premier League Stoke City at the Ricoh Arena along the way.
But one year on at the age of 37 and with a squad boasting plenty of senior competition in midfield, Robins may see Saturday’s first round trip to Walsall as another opportunity to rest his legs.
But asked if he’s keen to be involved, Doyle said: “Oh yeah, definitely in the FA Cup. I was involved in the games last year and it was brilliant.
“Unfortunately I missed out at Brighton when I had my knee injury, which was frustrating.
“I very nearly made that game but I think the most important thing was getting back for the league, with the position we were in going into the Mansfield game it was too important. “Hopefully I will play on Saturday. “I look forward to it because they are always great games at Walsall.”
Doyle has fond memories of the last time he played at Walsall for the Sky Blues.
“I remember the last time I played there I think we won 6-1 at the Bescot so it was a good day,” he said, recalling the league game in which Andy Morrell and Gary McShefrey both scored a brace, while Julian Joachim and an own goal from Ian Roper made it a memorable occasion for the travelling fans.
“That was a long time ago, 2004 I think when Julian Joachim was up front, so there are some good memories there.
“The Coventry fans always travel well there and I’d love to play, but it’s up to the manager.”
The FA Cup provides a break from the rigours of the league, although Doyle is disappointed that City have been pitted against a side with whom they’re slugging it out with in the same league.
“We’ve got the momentum because although we didn’t win against Accrington we’re still unbeaten with six on the bounce,” he said, “so for us, it’s about keeping that going.
“It’s a tough game because we are playing a team from our division. But, having said that, I don’t think it could be much better for us going to a local side where we will take a big crowd.” COVENTRY teenager Alfie Bates took a huge step towards fulfilling his dream of becoming a professional footballer when he made his debut for Walsall last month.
The former Coundon Court schoolboy has been on quite a journey.
He suffered the devastating blow of losing his mum to cancer five years ago before being released by Birmingham City, aged 15.
But the determined midfielder made her a promise that he’d ‘make it,’ and his hard work and determination paid off when he was picked by Saddlers’ boss Dean Keates to face Middlesbrough Under-21s in the Checkatrade Trophy.
“It’s been a journey all right,” said the 17-year-old, who is a big Sky Blues fan, going to both Wembley finals in recent seasons.
“My mum used to take me to football when I was little.
“When she was very ill before she passed away I told her that I was going to be a professional footballer, whatever it takes.
“That’s what drives me on every day.”
Alfie also lost another close family member nine months ago when his great granddad Alf, after whom he was named, died aged 92.
“I want to establish myself as a League One pro and then play at the highest level I can,” said Alfie. “I am still on a scholarship, so not signed a pro contract yet but hopefully I will be able to do that. “Players are usually offered their first pro contracts at the end of their second year so hopefully I can earn that by the end of this season.” Alfie comes from a sporty family with his mum Lesley Mallows and his two sisters, Carly, aged 18 and Holly, 14, talented athletes with Coventry Godiva and representing England. Carly became the fastest under15 hurdler in England in 2014, breaking the record set by legendary Olympian Denise Lewis at the West Midlands Athletics Championships. Incredibly, her mum set the record for the 800 metres race at the same event in 1987.
Devoted mum Lesley used to take Alfie to football training and trials as a small boy while dad Wayne was busy setting up his business.
He started out at Coundon Court Juniors before a short spell training with the Sky Blues Academy aged seven, before being taken on by Birmingham City.
“I had trials at Coventry and spent a few weeks there but they didn’t seem that keen on me so I went to Birmingham and stayed there until I was 15,” he said.
“I was always quite small as a kid and my height has been an issue for some people. I am only 5ft 7 now but I am filling out a bit and it’s not so much of an issue
I have been training with the first team for a while now and just to get my first appearance was really good and it’s all about looking to my future now.