Doyle rel­ish­ing the chance to Sad­dle up in cup

Coventry Telegraph - - SPORT - Michael Doyle By ANDY TURNER Sky Blues Re­porter andy.turner@reach­plc.com

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.

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