Day out paints a dif­fer­ent picture of Ponty

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By ANDY TURNER

Sky Blues Reporter MARK Robins has made a state­ment of in­tent to strengthen his Coven­try City squad in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow.

The Sky Blues boss has re­vealed that lead­ing scorer Duck­ens Na­zon, who is cur­rently on loan from Cham­pi­onship lead­ers Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers, will be a pri­or­ity to keep be­yond the New Year when his ini­tial spell runs out, but is also look­ing to do ‘ other busi­ness’ to help his League Two side get over the pro­mo­tion line dur­ing the sec­ond half of the sea­son.

Robins will fo­cus on the sharp end as goals con­tinue to be the main con­cern for both the man­ager and fans this sea­son as City have net­ted just nine times at the Ri­coh Arena and eight away from home in their 16 league games to date.

The 3- 0 vic­tory over then lead­ers Lu­ton Town in their last fix­ture in the di­vi­sion was the first time City had scored more than two in a game Jor­dan Pon­ti­celli since the open­ing- day win over Notts County, and came off the back of a mis­er­able run of four games with­out a goal. That form in the fi­nal third is in stark con­trast to the sit­u­a­tion at the back where City have been rock solid, keep­ing ten clean sheets in the league to make them the mean­est de­fence in the four full­time di­vi­sions, in­clud­ing the Pre­mier League.

So un­less the club sell the likes of Jor­dan Wil­lis or Rod McDon­ald – the main­stays of the back four who will al­most cer­tainly at­tract in­ter­est in the win­dow – Robins will con­cen­trate his ef­forts on adding much needed fire­power and cre­ativ­ity to his mis- fir­ing front line. The team suf­fered a ma­jor blow ear­lier in the cam­paign when Tony An­dreu picked up a se­ri­ous knee lig­a­ment in­jury to rule him out for the sea­son – the sum­mer sign­ing from Nor­wich City hav­ing been drafted in to pro­vide guile and goals – so a nat­u­ral JOR­DAN Pon­ti­celli might be one of the sharpest shoot­ers at Coven­try City but take him out of his com­fort zone and he shies away from the fir­ing line.

The teenager led the Sky Blues charge as he bagged an ex­quis­ite brace to sink Maiden­head United in the FA Cup at the week­end but he ad­mits he went miss­ing in ac­tion dur­ing Mark Robins’ un­ortho­dox pre- match prepa­ra­tions for the fa­mous com­pe­ti­tion.

The City boss took his play­ers paint­balling as a light- No. 10 is likely to be on Robins’ radar as well as a striker ca­pa­ble of bump­ing up the over­all tally on a more reg­u­lar ba­sis. So far this sea­son Max Bi­amou and Stu­art Beavon are yet to get off the mark while Jodi Jones and big sum­mer sign­ing Marc McNulty have just four apiece. McNulty, whom Robins be­lieves ca­pa­ble of get­ting 20- plus a sea­son, has hit two in the league and two in other com­pe­ti­tions, while Jones has not found the net since Septem­ber 9, al­beit the for­ward con­tin­ues to pro­vide as­sists. Teenage striker Jor­dan Pon­ti­celli pro­vides the big­gest cur­rent hope for the fans af­ter scor­ing two in only his sec­ond senior start on Sun­day to see the side through the first round of the FA Cup against non­league Maiden­head United, hav­ing bagged his first pro­fes­sional goal against Wal­sall in the Checkatrade Tro­phy last month. But Na­zon is Mark Robins hearted bond­ing ses­sion away from the in­ten­sity of the team’s Ry­ton train­ing ground in the build- up to Sun­day’s po­ten­tial banana skin fix­ture against the non- league Berk­shire min­nows.

But asked if he’s as good a hot shot with a paint­ball gun as he is with a ball at his feet, the 19- year- old said: “I spent most of the time hid­ing be­cause I didn’t re­ally fancy get­ting hit.

“I was bet­ter than I ex­pected but I didn’t re­ally do the whole ex­pe­ri­ence of go­ing full out. But it was a great team bond­ing ex­er­cise.”

Asked who was the shoot ‘ em up war­rior of the group he re­vealed: “I think I’d have to say the gaffer. He’s ob­vi­ously done it be­fore and he cer­tainly en­joyed him­self.”

What about the hard­est player on the Sky Blues pitch, skip­per Michael Doyle? Surely he was a bit of a mad dog with a paint­ball gun in his hand.

“He’s a hard cookie, that’s for sure, and kept tak­ing the hits and kept go­ing.”

Most might as­sume that it wouldn’t be the smartest move to tar­get the man­ager. Duck­ens Na­zon is Sky Blues’ lead­ing scorer the man that has pushed him­self to the fore with six goals ( five in the league) since join­ing on loan from Mo­lineux. And Robins al­ready has half an eye on ex­tend­ing his stay un­til the end of the sea­son.

“He’s not our player so it’s dif­fi­cult but yes, we’d like to keep hold of him,” said the man­ager. “But I want to do other busi­ness as well.”

The fact that Wolves al­lowed Na­zon to play in the FA Cup on Sun­day, and there­fore be in­el­i­gi­ble to play for his par­ent club when they en­ter the com­pe­ti­tion in Jan­uary, ap­pears to in­di­cate that man­ager Nuno Espir­ito Santo will be open to keep­ing the 23- year- old out on loan.

Asked if he thinks the de­ci­sion to al­low him to be­come cup- tied with the Sky Blues bodes well for Jan­uary, Robins said: “I think it’s cer­tainly a good thing for us. We will have to wait and see.”

Na­zon is on in­ter­na­tional duty with Haiti this week, so he misses the fi­nal Checkatrade Tro­phy group game with West Bromwich Al­bion Un­der- 21s tonight and Satur­day’s League Two clash with Mans­field.

Not so for rookie mid­fielder Jor­dan Ship­ley whose aim was clearly as good as his sweet left- foot de­liv­ery that earned him his first senior goal at league lead­ers Lu­ton last week.

“Ship­pers got the Gaffer right in the head, which is prob­a­bly a bad idea when you think about it,” said Pon­ti­celli, “but I think he en­joyed it!”

It cer­tainly didn’t do the 20- year- old any harm in terms of af­fect­ing his stand­ing in the squad as Robins handed Ship­ley his third senior start in Sun­day’s cup tie.

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