Coventry City have expressed interest in CSKA Sofia attacking midfielder Graham Carey, according to Bulgarian website TopSport. Carey, 31, made 200 appearances for Plymouth Argyle before making the switch to CSKA Sofia in 2019, registering a combined 107 goals and assists in his four years at the club.
Reports in Bulgaria suggest that the Sky Blues could face competition from Bolton Wanderers and Dundee United for Carey’s signature, with a return to the United Kingdom thought to be attractive to the Republic of Ireland midfielder.
The Sky Blues are thought to be interested in adding depth to their midfield following the departure of Zain Westbrooke earlier this month.
Carey, the most offensively-minded player to be linked with Coventry in recent weeks, joins Ben Sheaf, Renat Dadashov and Owen Otaswoie on Mark Robins’ recruitment shortlist ahead of City’s Championship return.
CSKA Sofia issued a firm rebuttal to reports that the Irish playmaker would be given permission to leave the Efbet League title contenders in February. In a club statement, the Bulgarian outfit announced that Carey had been struggling with a “viral infection”, but had no intention of allowing the free-kick specialist to depart Sofia.
Carey signed a two-year contract with the Reds last summer, making 26 league appearances under recently-departed head coach Miloš Kruščić. Carey started for CSKA Sofia in the 2019/20 Bulgarian Cup final, scoring in their penalty shootout defeat against Lokomotiv Plodiv.
'He has a terrific left foot'
Carey began his youth career with Irish club Shelbourne, before signing for Celtic’s academy in 2005. The Irishman failed to make a first team appearance for the Hoops during his six seasons with the Glasgow club.
Carey made his professional debut while on loan at League of Ireland outfit Bohemians in 2009, starring as the Bohs won their eleventh league title. Loan spells with St Mirren and Huddersfield Town would follow for the Celtic youngster, who earned praise from Terriers manager Lee Clark:
“Graham will bring brilliant versatility to the squad – he can play anywhere up the left side of the pitch.... He has a terrific left foot and he looks as elegant as you would expect from a quality left-footed player."
Carey made 23 starts for the Yorkshire club, scoring twice for Huddersfield in League One. Carey signed for St Mirren on a permeant basis ahead of the 2011/12 season, making a positive impact upon his return to the club.
Following a stint at Ross County, Carey’s arrival at Pride Park helped to revitalise the left-footed playmaker’s career. Carey scored on his Plymouth debut, a 2-0 win against AFC Wimbledon, marking the start of a four-year spell in Devon.
Carey scored 15 goals and registered 15 assists in all competitions during his debut season on the south coast. The Irishman solidified his cult status among Argyle’s supporters by signing a contract extension following the club’s promotion to League One.
Carey is best as an attacking midfielder
Though capable of playing on the left or right of midfield, Carey is most comfortable as an attacking midfielder. The six-time Ireland international is known to roam in the space behind the striker, often drifting into the channels in order to receive possession in advanced areas.
While at St Mirren, Carey was often deployed as a left back, although the former Plymouth midfielder has not featured in defence since his departure from the Buddies in 2013.
Credited for his proficiency from set-piece situations, Carey would slot into Coventry’s system in the number ten role, providing competition to Callum O’Hare. Carey’s versatility makes him an intriguing target for the Championship-bound Sky Blues, who have focused on signing young players so far this summer.