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Hadji Home Debut In Regis Testimonial

Thousands of Coventry fans will fill Highfield Road Stadium tomorrow to salute Cyrille Regis, but Gordon Strachan hopes they go home applauding new man Mustapha Hadji.

Coventry’s friendly match against West Bromwich Albion is being treated as a testimonial for Regis, who was a great player for both clubs.

He won an FA Cup winners’ medal with Coventry and is now on the managerial staff at Albion, but for Hadji it will be his first game at the home of the Sky Blues.

He cost a club record £4 million from the Spanish club Deportivo de la Coruña and is rated so highly by Strachan, that the Coventry manager says he will build his entire team around the Moroccan.

If he lives up to his billing then the 27 year old midfielder will surely rival Regis in the fans’ affections.

Strachan is expected to use the match as a full blown competitive game in which he will reveal his formation for the coming season. He thinks Hadji will be a revelation in the Premiership and is believed to be giving the talented North African a free reign to play outside the general team plan.

Coventry’s fans will also get their first sighting of Hadji’s Moroccan international team mate Youssef Chippo, who has shown exciting glimpses in pre-season games at Birmingham and Aberdeen.

But Coventry’s season will not be just about the two Moroccans. Strachan will be paying particular attention to the last line of defence after the departure of the polished and illustrious Roland Nilsson home to Sweden.

With Mo Konjic back on the injured list Paul Williams and Richard Shaw are likely to share the centreback pairing with David Burrows or Stephen Froggatt at left back.

Gary McAllister, Paul Telfer, Chippo, Marcus Hall, Trond Soltvedt, Gavin Strachan and Barry Quinn will make the midfield the most competitive department in the squad.

Up front Darren Huckerby, Noel Whelan and John Aloisi will share the load, with Whelan also available for midfield if needed.

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Staying Up by Rick Gekoski

CWN / Sport / Football / Coventry City FC / 30 Jul 99

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