Skip­per is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FOOTBALL - By ANDY TURNER

COVENTRY City cap­tain Michael Doyle is still as fit as most in Mark Robins’s squad.

At 37, the vet­eran mid­fielder and hugely in­flu­en­tial Sky Blues skip­per re­mains ever present in the league this sea­son and is show­ing no sign of slow­ing down or hang­ing up his boots any time soon.

Al­ways among the front run­ners in pre-sea­son train­ing and never sit­ting out train­ing to save his legs, the Ir­ish­man is the con­sum­mate pro­fes­sional when it comes to look­ing af­ter him­self in or­der to en­joy as long and full a play­ing ca­reer as pos­si­ble.

He’s sim­i­lar to for­mer City player/ man­ager Gor­don Strachan in that re­spect, the Scot prid­ing him­self on a healthy life­style in or­der to en­joy an ex­tended play­ing ca­reer un­til 1997 when he re­tired at the age of 40, set­ting a Pre­mier League record for an out­field player.

Al­ready with over 700 ca­reer games un­der his belt, Doyle could reach another mile­stone for his club if he keeps go­ing strong in the next twelve months.

He has racked up 370 games for the Sky Blues, re­cently over­tak­ing City leg­end Richard Shaw’s 362 ap­pear­ances.

He’s achieved it over two spells, his first see­ing him play 297 dur­ing an eight year stint be­tween 2003 and 2011.

Since his tri­umphant re­turn to the club in 2017, Doyle has chalked up a fur­ther 73 ap­pear­ances to date, leav­ing him just 30 short of the 400 mark for the club he calls home.

There are just 26 games left in League One this term which means even if he plays in ev­ery one, he’ll fall just short this sea­son, need­ing to start the 2019/20 cam­paign in sky blue to reach it.

Asked if he’s con­scious of how close he is to 400, he said: “Not re­ally, if I am hon­est with you.

“Last year was great when it was men­tioned about the 700 ca­reer games. I knew I was close but I am not one to be look­ing up things.

“I was proud of that and I couldn’t be­lieve it when it was pointed out to me. Lis­ten, that will be great but it’s not some­thing I am count­ing down. I’d love to do that and be up there with the long­est serv­ing play­ers at the club.”

I am play­ing ev­ery week, I’m not miss­ing train­ing and not cut­ting cor­ners, which is great.

Doyle is cur­rently the sev­enth long­est serv­ing player in the club’s his­tory and now chas­ing sixth placed Mick Kearns who played 382 times be­tween 1957-68, and goal­keeper Bill Glazier who sits in fifth place af­ter mak­ing an im­pres­sive 395 ap­pear­ances be­tween 1964-75, and which the cur­rent skip­per can beat by one this sea­son if he plays all re­main­ing matches.

He’ll have to go some, how­ever, to break into the top four to catch the likes of Brian Bor­rows (477), Mick Coop (492), Ge­orge Cur­tis (538) and, of course, first placed Steve Ogri­zovic who will surely never be beaten with 601.

“Oggy pulled me the other week and showed me the piece in the pa­per and asked me if I was try­ing to catch him,” joked Doyle.

“I said ‘no chance,’ but he said I will.

“I told him he doesn’t have to worry and that his record is safe.

“He was hav­ing a laugh and say­ing I’d play un­til I am 40, no prob­lem, so we had a bit of a joke about it.”

On a more se­ri­ous note, asked if he still feels fit enough to do the job the mod­ern day leg­end is in no doubt what­so­ever.

Speak­ing early last month af­ter the 1-1 draw with Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley when he waded in with a late equaliser at the Ri­coh, he in­sisted: “Yes, and you can only go on games like that which was end to end and a lot of work in­volved right to the end of the game when we were chas­ing it.

“But lis­ten, I feel great, I feel fit and that’s all you can do, just look af­ter your­self and be ready.

“I think time tells on us all and I will know my­self when it’s time.

“But I am play­ing ev­ery week, I’m not miss­ing train­ing and not cut­ting cor­ners, which is great.”

Michael Doyle re­mains hugely in­flu­en­tial for City

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