‘Doyle will be back... but I need to look to the future’ ROBINS EXpLAINS WHY CITY TALISMAN WAS LEFT OUT
MARK Robins has explained his decision to drop Coventry City captain Michael Doyle – a call that left the star “majorly disappointed”, his boss admitted.
The Sky Blues boss rested the veteran midfielder at Walsall on Saturday for the first time in a league game since bringing him back to the club for a second spell in the summer of 2017.
Doyle was a key figure in the club returning to League One at the first attempt and securing the first promotion since 1967 when he skippered the side to success via the play-offs last season.
He was also part of the recent run of six unbeaten matches, during which City won five consecutive games in the division and he popped up with an 87th-minute equaliser to secure a point against Accrington Stanley in the sixth.
But after a sequence of five games without a win, including an FA Cup first round exit at Walsall and League One losses at Burton and Fleetwood, Robins decided to shake things up with a number of changes, and Doyle was one of them.
The manager admits it was a tough call to make but revealed that while the midfielder is still very much part of his plans, he has to start looking to the future.
“He’s been brilliant,” said Robins, “But don’t forget he’s 37 and I have got to look at what are we doing. What are we doing now?
“I am not writing him off at all because he’s been fantastic for us but maybe it’s time to look and see where we play him.”
Doyle has an incredible record of appearances, having barely missed a league game over the last seven-and-a-half seasons.
He’s been virtually ever present, consistently playing 50 or more games a campaign at his last three clubs from four years at Sheffield United, two at Portsmouth before his return to the Ricoh Arena where he’d made 73 starts up until the weekend.
“I have spoken to him about it and when you get to the later stages of your career you are always looking over your shoulder and thinking, ‘how long can I go on?’
“You just have to enjoy it until you can’t do it. And hopefully that’s what he’ll continue to do. That’s what he has done ever since I brought him back here.
“He’s been magnificent and it will take a bit of time to get his head around in terms of not playing at the weekend because he was majorly disappointed. Majorly disappointed!
“But he was running around after the match and working his legs and he will continue to do that and continue to be an asset for us both on and off the pitch.”
Asked if he was still an influence in the dressing room at the Banks’s Stadium despite being an unused substitute, Robins said: “He was a bit quieter than normal in the dressing room but still supportive. It was a slightly different matchday experience for him but one that, moving forward, we have to look at it game by game and see where we go.”