Free agent in, Marosi out: An early look at how Coventry City’s starting XI could look in 2021/22

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After an impressive first season back in the Championship, Coventry City will be hoping to continue their progress in 2021/22.

Finishing 16th is an impressive feat for a newly-promoted side, particularly one with a budget the size of the Sky Blues.

What makes their achievement all the more admirable is that Mark Robins’ didn’t sacrifice his side’s style of play or ideology.

They stuck to their guns throughout and that will have made Championship security feel all the sweeter.

What’s important now is that they continue to progress and add the quality they need to their squad ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

Money is likely to be tight up and down the EFL and you’d imagine Coventry will be no different, so don’t be surprised if they look to be creative in the transfer window.

It is, of course, early days but we’ve outlined how the Sky Blues’ starting XI could look next season…

Neither Marko Marosi nor Ben Wilson were entirely convincing last term and it seems Robins is keen to recruit a new goalkeeper.

The Coventry Telegraph has reported that Wolves shot-stopper Matija Sarkic has emerged as a target for the Sky Blues.

The 23-year-old spent last season on loan with Shrewsbury Town but it seems Coventry feel he’s ready for the Championship.

Sarkic will certainly be hungry to impress as he looks to show the new manager at Molineux that he’s good enough.

The Montenegro international will certainly be an imposing presence between the sticks, standing at 6ft 5ins tall.

It would be a huge surprise to see Coventry move away from the back three that served them well last term, as it would to see Dominic Hyam not part of that defensive line.

Hyam was one of the Championship club’s standout players last season and assuming he remains part of the squad, will surely be a mainstay in the side next term.

The Sky Blues have triggered the one-year extension in his contract, which will keep him at the club until at least next summer but it wouldn’t be a shock if there were other sides sniffing around him.

Another key part of the back three from 2020/21, such were the quality of Kyle McFadzean’s performances last term that the Sky Blues have handed him a new one-year deal.

The 34-year-old is an experienced head and a commanding presence in the backline – the organiser that keeps things running smoothly.

In that sense, he’s a manager’s dream and you feel Robins will be keen to keep him in the side as long as is possible.

He featured 38 times in the Championship last term and it would be no surprise to see him post a big appearance tally again this time around.

With Leo Ostigard returning to Brighton at the end of his loan deal, the Midlands outfit need to sign reinforcements at the back.

Having been released from Bristol City, Nathan Baker is reportedly someone that Coventry are keen on, while he is understood to want to move back to the Midlands.

If he can stay fit, Baker is a quality Championship centre-back, and his no-nonsense, physical approach should complement McFadzean and Hyam well.

Assuming terms can be agreed, the 30-year-old could prove a very shrewd signing for the Sky Blues and quickly become a regular fixture in their starting XI in the 2021/22 campaign.

With both Fankaty Dabo and Julien Da Costa in the squad, Robins has options when it comes to the right-hand side of his midfield four.

Dabo may just edge it, having been one of the Coventry boss’ trusted players for a few seasons now.

They may be hoping for a bit more attacking input and production in the final third from the 25-year-old this season, however, and if he can’t provide that then Da Costa may get a chance.

It’s not an area that the Sky Blues will likely be looking to improve upon this summer, given that Da Costa only arrived last summer.

Assuming the Sky Blues can keep hold of Gustavo Hamer, you feel the 23-year-old is a shoo-in to start in central midfield next season.

West Bromwich Albion have recently been touted with an interest, while sources have also informed Football League World that Rangers, Norwich City, Brighton and Brentford are also potentially keen.

Ensuring the midfielder remains part of Robins’ squad should be high on the club’s list of priorities this summer because he offers so much in midfield.

Hamer’s offensive contributions were massive for the Sky Blues last term and they’ll be hoping for more of the same next term.

Coventry captain Liam Kelly has been handed a new deal that should keep him at the Midlands outfit until 2023 and having come back from injury late last season, he’ll surely be a mainstay in the side moving forward.

Unfortunately, it does look as though Matty James may not return despite his Leicester City exit – with former Foxes boss Nigel Pearson understood to be keen to bring him to Bristol City.

With that in mind, having the resolve that Kelly offers in midfield will be hugely important for Coventry next term.

Keeping the 31-year-old fit throughout the whole season would be a real boost as well – with the midfielder not managing more than 30 league games since 2017/18.

Re-signing Sam McCallum back on loan from Norwich City proved a masterstroke and he was brilliant again for the Sky Blues in 2020/21.

But with the McCallum now gone, Robins will need another option to rely on on that left flank.

That could mean that Josh Reid, the 19-year-old who joined from Ross County in January, gets a chance to prove himself.

We know that the Coventry boss is a coach that is happy to put faith in youth and the Scottish defender has impressed in the SPFL previously.

The Championship will likely be a step up but he’ll be hungry to show that he’s ready.

Making the step up from League One to the Championship was always going to be difficult for Callum O’Hare but if anything he was more influential than ever for the Sky Blues last season.

The attacking midfielder featured in every single game for Coventry in the 2020/21 Championship campaign, pulling the strings in the attacking third and finishing with three goals and eight assists.

Robins will want him to have that sort of impact again, so we’ll surely see him play in that number 10 role throughout.

With a season in the second tier under his belt, O’Hare will likely be keen to step his game up a level in 2021/22.

Despite injury hampering his season, Tyler Walker was Coventry’s top scorer last term as he scored eight times for the Sky Blues in all competitions.

Walker will be hungry to prove he’s a striker capable of finding the net far more frequently than that at Championship level and the 2021/22 campaign could be the perfect time for him to do that.

New arrivals are to be expected in the forward line given the departures of Max Biamou and Amadou Bakayoko but it would be a surprise to see the 24-year-old lose his place – assuming Robins doesn’t land a blockbuster new striker.

Another player that was sidelined due to injury through parts of the 2021/22 campaign, Matt Godden is surely the man that will partner Walker up top.

Having scored 14 times as he helped Coventry win promotion from League One the previous season, Godden’s goal tally was down last term and that’s something he’ll no doubt be hoping to rectify in the upcoming campaign.

The 29-year-old offers so much more than just goals, however, and if he can stay fit will surely be a regular fixture in Robins’ side.

That said, his opportunities may be limited if Coventry land some fresh striking talent.

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