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MICHAEL DOYLE is determined to win back his place in the Coventry City midfield.
And the workaholic Irishman is confident that he is almost back to prime fitness after coming through Tuesday's full-scale practice match against Aston Villa unscathed.
Doyle put off two operations at the end of last season to play his part in the club's relegation battle.
The delayed surgery forced him to miss the start of the current campaign but now the 27-year-old is hoping to play a part in the Sky Blues' two home games in four days - Bristol City in the Championship on Saturday and Newcastle United in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.
"I had a couple of problems last season and the specialist said I would need to get them sorted out," explained Doyle, "but I spoke to the management and we decided that I would delay the operations until we were safe from relegation.
"It never really worked out as it went right to the last day of the season - but to be honest the club needed every player at its disposal because of the situation we were in so I was happy to do that.
BACK in the 1940s football was a far cry from the modern game, both on and off the pitch.
Coventry City centre-forward Jack Evans and his contemporaries - the likes of Ted Roberts, Stan Smith, Trevor Lewis, Ken Jones and Charlie Timmins - enjoyed a decent living and way of life while it lasted.
But as the now 82-year-old revealed: "When I left Coventry in 1952 I signed for Nuneaton Borough and started work at the Daimler as an engineer and doubled my wages overnight.
"I used to get ÃÂ£10 a week in the second team which was not a bad wage in those days compared to other jobs, but it dropped significantly during the close season which used to be three months.
"So, during the summer a lot of us used to get part time jobs to keep us going and I worked in the offices at Highfield Road and me and Ted Roberts used to make and pack butter locally as well."
Roberts was the club's first choice centre-forward and limited Evans to eight first team games during his six years, although he was a prolific goal scorer in the reserves, regularly notching between 15-18 a season.
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DECEMBER 1997. Darren Huckerby weaves through the Manchester United back-line to score one of the greatest goals at Highfield Road.
It's a wee bit grainy but what a goal. My Huckerby, we salute you.
CHRIS COLEMAN has been given the all-clear to strengthen his Coventry City squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.
City were forced to draft in teenager midfielder Aron Gunnarsson at rightback at Barnsley on Saturday when summer recruit Stephen Wright suffered an Achilles problem.
The last-minute reshuffle exposed a gap in the Sky Blues resources, Coleman admitting that while he has several options on the left he is short of right-flank options.
But chairman Ray Ranson has confirmed that cash is available if Coleman decides he needs reinforcements in that area.
"We speak on a daily basis discussing scenarios to improve the squad," he said.
"We are constantly reviewing the situation and there's a few names he's mentioned so we will have to see."
Ranson and Coleman are both keen to free up cash by shipping out players who have little chance of forcing their way into the current first team.
"We'd like to reduce the size of the squad," confirmed Ranson.
"The manager has said on numerous occasions that he wants to trim it down to the low 20s but with a lot more quality, so from that point of view we'd like to move a few on."
MARCUS HALL - Sky Blues' longest-serving player - is desperate to play a part in City's next two vital games at the Ricoh Arena.
The 32-year-old defender has missed the first three matches of the season after injuring his foot in training but is hoping to be fit for Saturday's Championship game against Bristol City on Saturday and the Carling Cup tie with Newcastle next Tuesday.
Hall is confident the Sky Blues will have a much improved season after struggling to establish themselves in the division in the seven years since relegation.
"We had good starts but things were happening behind the scenes and that did not help," he said. "But things are very different now.
"The new chairman has come in, there has been investment and if the manager finds the right players to strengthen he will be backed with funds.
"I think we definitely have the best squad since we have been in this division.
"The players brought in by the manager are of a higher quality and the squad seems stronger in all areas and that bodes well.
"There are also a good number of young players. I am 32 and I am the oldest outfield player at the club so we are clearly assembling a group of young players who will develop together."
WALSALL skipper Stephen Hughes says the offer of a new contract with Coventry City was withdrawn this summer.
Hughes, ex-Arsenal and Everton, was Coventry skipper last season which, with a new contract on the table, looked like an action replay this year.
But he said: "I was offered a new deal, went away for the summer and got a phone call saying its not there any more.
"I was disappointed but it is one of those things that happens in football and I was on the lookout for a new club. I don't know how it happened. But I don't hold a grudge, I thoroughly enjoyed it and here I am.
"I had a pre-season with Nottingham Forest and enjoyed myself there. The manager wanted to sort out a contract but that never came to anything."
COVENTRY CITY boss Chris Coleman today praised Julian Gray after the winger hit the winner in the Sky Blues' 2-1 win against Barnsley.
The former Birmingham City midfielder came up with the winning goal in a commanding performance at Oakwell.
It was a personal triumph for the left-winger, coming three minutes after a wildly miscued cross had prompted the travelling fans to demand the introduction of Leon McKenzie.
And Coleman was delighted with his contribution.
"It was a great finish," he said, "and I was delighted for Julian because I always had it in mind to change both wingers, him and Michael Mifsud, in the second half.
"I said to the players 'look, we've got a bench full of forwards so give us what you've got and if you blow up with 20 minutes to go we'll make changes.'
"Julian and Michael did a terrific job for us defensively - our shape was much better today - and I thought it was great for Julian to get the winner and receive a standing ovation from our fans as he came off the pitch.
"To be fair, I don't think the fans were booing him so much as singing for Leon because The Duke is a very popular player."
IS this the best goal ever?
Everyone has an opinion but, simply for sheer innovation, Ernie Hunt's donkey kick must go down as one of the classics....
JULIAN Gray proved to be Barnsley's nemesis once again as his second-half winner in today Coca-Cola Championship clash gave Coventry their best start to a season since 1992.
The winger scored in both victories over the Tykes last season, and was once again the match winner in an entertaining encounter at Oakwell.
The Sky Blues, who kept up their 100% record to this season with three victories, found themselves in front against the run of play in the 11th minute - when Freddy Eastwood fired a cross in from the right which evaded everyone and nestled into the bottom corner.
It was Eastwood's first goal for almost a year, the last coming against Blackpool on August 25, and it gave his side a surprise lead in South Yorkshire.
Brian Howard's clinical finish on the stroke of half-time earned the hosts a deserved equaliser. But Gray's 68th-minute strike and Iain Hume's red card made for a miserable second half for the Reds, who have now lost three games on the spin.
COVENTRY CITY are only two matches into the new campaign but the competition for frontline places is already boiling up.
And that suits manager Chris Coleman down to the ground as he works to create a "cut-throat" culture at the Ricoh Arena.
"In football you often hear people talking about a good dressing room," he explained. "I've said it myself and that's important, but proper team spirit doesn't come from having a jolly boys' day out - it comes from doing things the right way, preparing properly and winning games.
"I don't want a big happy family that's losing every week, I want to win games. To do that you need an edge - and if that means you get a cut-throat atmosphere, I'm happy with that."