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Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

Improving Oxford could topple toothless Coventry

Robinson's side look a solid odds-against bet

Coventry boss Mark Robins
1 of 1

Sky Bet League One
Sky Sports Football, midday Sunday

Coventry have been finding life a lot tougher in Sky Bet League One than they might have expected and could slide deeper into trouble with a loss to improving Oxford at the Kassam Stadium.

The tide seemed to have turned for Coventry when they defeated Exeter 3-1 in last season's Sky Bet League Two playoff final, sealing their first promotion in 51 years.

But the club's off-field problems are still far from resolved and within six weeks of their Wembley victory they felt unable to resist a bid from Reading reported to be of up to £1.5m for star striker Marc McNulty.

McNulty scored 23 league goals last term, and losing such a key player before going into a higher division was always going to be a challenge. Coventry have struggled at the start of the campaign, scoring three goals in six games.

Last Saturday's 1-0 loss at home to Rochdale was a familiar tale with the Sky Blues winning the shot count 16 to 12 and taking no points.

If anyone can address the situation it should be Coventry manager, Mark Robins, an ex-striker who started his career at Manchester United.

But Robins needs help from the Coventry owners to get the club back to the higher echelons of English football and the longer-term outlook doesn't look great as doubts persist over where the Sky Blues will be playing home matches after this season.

Robins must simply focus on on-field matters but he takes his team to Oxford at a tricky time because Karl Robinson's side are on an upward curve.

United have posted three wins and a draw from their last four games and put in an encouraging performance in last Saturday's 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

Robinson's side left the Stadium of Light disappointed to have taken only a point and, despite their lowly position (third bottom before the weekend) they remain optimistic of challenging towards the top end of the table.

A lot of money has been invested by owner Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth to turn Oxford into a force in the third tier.

Among the permanent signings this summer were midfielder Jamie Hanson and striker Jamie Mackie, who were snapped up from Championship sides Derby and QPR.

Given the outlay, Oxford's poor start came as a bit of a surprise. However, results and performances are fast improving and Robinson's side look a solid odds-against bet to topple toothless Coventry.

1pt 29-20 bet365, Betfred

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Team news
Jamie Hanson is suspended and Simon Eastwood (dislocated finger) are Rob Hall (knee) are injured.

Dujon Sterling is on international duty with the England under-20s and Max Biamou (knee) is out but Liam Kelly has returned to training. Jodi Jones (thigh) is short of match fitness.

Key stat
Coventry have not scored more than one goal in any of their seven matches this season.

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Robins must simply focus on on-field matters but he takes his team to Oxford at a tricky time
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