Day out paints a different picture of Ponty
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.