Managing Coventry City: Goalie search intensifies, target shift and something different up front

Coventry City’s recruitment plans are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks between now and the end of August.

The Sky Blues are expected to be pretty busy as Mark Robins looks to add numbers and strengthen his squad after narrowly missing out on the play-offs last time around, as he looks to build a more robust group capable of stepping up and making a sustained push for promotion in the coming campaign.

City are able to register players until the window closes on Friday, August 30 at 11pm, and have already got some over the line with the arrival of 20-year-old winger Raphael Borges Rodrigues from Australian A-League side Macarthur FC for an undisclosed fee. Robins, of course, also has fellow wide man Ephron Mason-Clark in the building following his agreed deal from Peterborough United in the January window.

READ MORE: Coventry City transfer target Oliver Dovin asked if he's played his last game for Hammarby

READ MORE: Coventry City fans will be pleased to hear where Callum O'Hare is 'not expected' to sign this summer

And the manager has also added exciting midfielder Jack Rudoni from Huddersfield Town and resigned centre-half Luis Binks on a permanent deal from Bologna.

Transfers are going to form a major part of the club’s plan for success, with quality additions in key positions very much the priority for Robins and his head of recruitment Dean Austin. Here CoventryLive takes a look at the key priorities for the Sky Blues as they plot their summer deals ahead of what is hoped to be an exciting season of progress at the top end of the Championship.

Fresh competition in goal

The Sky Blues have been strongly linked in the Swedish press with Hammarby goalkeeper Oliver Dovin. Swedish newspaper, Sport Bladet, reported last week that City are “working hard” to sign the Hammarby number one, saying it is the club’s “top priority” in the transfer window.

Fotbollskanalen, meanwhile, reported that the Sweden international “can leave Hammarby” and says the player confirmed Coventry ’s interest, saying: “A good club and a good league.”

Certainly, if the 21-year-old with two senior caps for Sweden does join City it will pose fresh questions over the future of Ben Wilson who, understandably, is keen for first team football after his stellar campaign for the Sky Blues in 2022/23 when he established himself as Mark Robins’ number one. The arrival of Brad Collins last summer threatened his place and, in time, the former Chelsea prospect took over, limiting Wilson to just 18 league starts and four in the FA Cup.

It's unclear at this stage whether Wilson will want to stay and fight for his place but if a new stopper comes in, the likelihood is that the 31-year-old – a hugely popular and bubbly character in the dressing room – will be looking to move on despite having a year left on his current deal.

Clean sheets were hard to come by last season as City kept 12 in total, eight fewer than 2022-23, and the position would appear to be one that requires attention.

Rearguard boost

Milan van Ewijk was one of the standouts from last summer’s signings but the squad arguably needs another recognised right-back to add competition and back-up. City are reported to be competing with Championship rivals for the signature of RWDM Molenbeek full-back Ilay Camara.

On the other side of the back four, meanwhile, the general consensus is that there needs to be more to come from Jay Dasilva who found himself losing his place to the supremely reliable and ever popular Jake Bidwell. But another marauding full-back would be an ideal addition, which, presumably, would mean someone would need to make way – the most likely of whom would be Bidwell.

Peterborough’s talented young skipper Harrison Burrows is a name that has cropped up a number of times but he is now understood to be heading to Sheffield United. Whether City have other targets in mind or are prepared to stick with what they have got remains to be seen.

Elsewhere, Robins has two right-footed centre-halves (Bobby Thomas and Joel Latibeaudiere) and two lefties with Liam Kitching competing with the returning Binks. But City are still lacking experience in the side, particularly following the departures of Liam Kelly to Rotherham and Matty Godden to Charlton Athletic, following on from Kyle McFadzean's January switch to Blackburn.

So far City have been linked with interest in Middlesbrough free agent Paddy McNair and Nottingham Forest's Joe Worrall, albeit all has gone quiet on those two.

Replacing Callum O’Hare

The former fan favourite said his official good-byes last week after coming to the end of his contract wth the Sky Blues which now leaves the onus on Kasey Palmer, who stepped up into the number ten role, often ahead of O’Hare, towards the end of the season. But Robins will almost certainly want two players competing for the position and the arrival of Rudoni may well tick that box.

A versatile, ball carrying and forward thinking midfielder, Rudoni can play a number of roles in the middle of the park, from box-to-box to the link man behind the strikers, and it remains to be seen exactly where he'll be deployed.

City have also been linked with Preston’s Alan Browne who, while not necessarily a technical flair player, has played predominantly as a ten for North End, and the 29-year-old is available on a free transfer after turning down a lucrative new deal at Deepdale. However, again, it's all gone quiet on that front.

Gus replacement still needed

Much was made of the fact that City never really replaced Gustavo Hamer last season. Although Victor Torp was drafted in during the January window, he’s not the same style of player and a deep-lying playmaker would appear to be still very much on Robins’ wanted list. The club had been linked with Aberdeen's highly-rated Scotland Under-21 international Connor Barron earlier in the summer but he has since signed for Rangers.

Ben Sheaf, stick or twist?

For Mark Robins and the majority of Sky Blues fans, Ben Sheaf is one of the club’s most influential players. The manager is expected to name the 26-year-old midfielder as the club’s new captain following the departure of Liam Kelly. However, just as with the likes of Gyokeres and Hamer before him, the former Arsenal graduate has attracted interest from a number of clubs including Premier League sides Fulham and Crystal Palace, as well as relegated Luton Town, who will be looking to bounce straight back up.

As one of City’s most saleable assets one wonders if the club would be tempted to cash in at the right price in order to use the funds to continue to replenish an evolving squad. That may all depend, of course, on Sheaf’s personal ambitions. In an ideal world he’d be offered and sign a new long-term contract and fulfil those with Coventry by helping the club get promoted. But a less patient player might well be keen to move sooner if the right club comes calling, at which point the Sky Blues’ hand will likely be forced.

More midfield attention

The departure of Kelly leaves a holding vacancy in the squad and although Robins has gone on record talking about looking forward to having Jamie Allen fully fit next season, following a campaign dogged by illness and injury, it remains to be seen whether the 29-year-old will be content not to be guaranteed a regular start. The high energy and versatile player is, however, the perfect squad player who can fill a number of roles. He’s still contracted to the club for another year but if there’s any interest in him, he might well be tempted to push for a move. Either way, Robins will presumably want to add at least one new central midfielder.

City missed out last month to Nottingham Forest for the services of 22-year-old Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Stamenic, and are presumably now pressing ahead with other targets.

Adding something different up front

The sale of Matty Godden to Charlton leaves City needing to add at least one more striker to compete with Haji Wright and Ellis Simms next season. Robins already has Fabio Tavares who, although filled in for Tatsuhiro Sakamoto out wide on the right when he was injured on occasions last season, sees himself as a striker and has scored goals when deployed in a more central position.

But a Godden replacement is likely, with a young and hungry goal scorer the ideal fit, and someone who is a different style to the two big lads - i.e. a bit of pace to get in behind. City have been linked with a promising young Belgian forward who is claimed to be on the club’s ‘shortlist’ this summer. According to Belgian journalist Sacha Tavolieri, the Sky Blues are eyeing Mitchy Ntelo, who currently plays for Bulgarian club Lokomotiv Plovdiv.

How many new players do you think the club still need to recruit this summer? Click HERE to have your say.