Coventry City begin their second season at St. Andrew’s with the visit of Queens Park Rangers in the Championship on Friday evening. The Sky Blues fell to a 2-1 defeat against Bristol City on their return to the second tier six days ago, while QPR secured a surprise win over Nottingham Forest in west London.
Despite losing rising star Eberechi Eze to Crystal Palace over the summer, there is a sense at Loftus Road that QPR have an opportunity to progress under the leadership of former Rangers manager Mark Warburton. Summer arrivals Rob Dickie, Luke Amos, Tom Carroll, George Thomas, and Lyndon Dyke will be hoping to make an impact in the second league fixture of the season.
After scoring against Gillingham in the Carabao Cup, Tyler Walker could make his first league start for the Sky Blues, while Callum O’Hare is expected to retain his place in Mark Robins’ starting line-up.
While neither side is faced with fresh injury concerns following their Carabao Cup defeats in midweek, both managers are expected to make changes ahead of Friday’s Championship clash.
After playing 90 minutes against Gillingham, Ben Sheaf could be in line to make his full league debut for the Sky Blues. The Arsenal youngster could replace Liam Kelly in the City starting line-up, who limped off with a hamstring injury against Bristol City last weekend. Jordan Shipley could also be chosen to replace the injured midfielder.
With City defenders Fankaty Dabo and Michael Rose returning to fitness, Robins will have plenty of options at the back, should he decide to make changes for the visit of QPR.
Unless the visitors are struck by any late injury concerns, Warburton could name an unchanged team for QPR’s trip to the West Midlands. New arrival George Thomas is expected to feature on the bench for the west London side, having recently joined the R’s from Premier League outfit Leicester City.
Coventry City (3-5-2): Marosi; Ostigard, McFadzen, Hyam; Pask, Sheaf, Kelly, Giles; O'Hare, Walker; Godden.
Queens Park Rangers (4-2-3-1): Lumley; Kakay, Dickie, Barbet, Wallace; Cameron, Carroll; Samuel, Amos, Chair; Dykes.
Ones to watch
O’Hare bagged an assist on his Championship debut and was lively throughout Coventry’s trip to Ashton Gate, making him the player to watch for the Sky Blues. The 22-year-old midfielder has his best years ahead of him and already looks at home in the second tier.
If selected to play as a lone attacking midfielder behind Mat Godden and Walker, O’Hare will be expected to provide the creative spark for the hosts.
Dykes will be hoping to continue his goal-scoring form following his switch to QPR. The former Livingston forward scored from the penalty spot against Forest, and is expected to lead the line once again for the travelling side.
Friday will be first time that Coventry and QPR have met since January 2011, when the London side triumphed 2-1 to complete a double over the Sky Blues. The hosts last beat QPR at home in February 2010 and have only lost to the R's once in their last four home fixtures against the west London outfit.
Both of these Championship clubs have a rich history, and first played against each other in October 1908 when QPR beat Coventry 4-2.
Since QPR beat Coventry 4-2 in the sides’ first meeting in October 1908, QPR have won a further 41 games while Coventry have registered 47 wins. The sides have drawn on 31 occasions.
For spectators in the United Kingdom, Friday’s contest will be broadcast on Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event, with the match set to begin at 19:45.
City manager Robins admitted that fixtures are coming “thick and fast” for the Sky Blues, underscoring his belief in Coventry’s pre-match preparations.
“We’re working really hard to get ready for them and to get the players enough information on the opposition.
“The analysis side of things is really good and there's good players at this level and QPR will be no different.”
Robins acknowledged the threat that QPR could pose, admitting that Friday’s match would mark the first time that City’s summer signings had visited St. Andrew’s.
“They've got really good players that will present another tough challenge and one we can look forward to and also it'll be our first foray into Birmingham because we've not been there yet this season and the new boys haven’t seen it, so it will be their first time there.”