No one was more surprised than Colin Hendry to line up against
championship chasing Leeds United yesterday, unless it was the
Peruvian Ysrael Zuniga.
The two men were signed eight days before, from very different
backgrounds, but with very good grounds to expect to be given more
time to settle in.
Hendry had played just 45 minutes of reserve team football after a
knee operation and Coventry’s manager Gordon Strachan agreed that,
fitness-wise, he was at least two matches away from a first team
The manager virtually wrote off the Peruvian until next season. He
"I have not yet seen him play and he comes from such a very
different culture to our own that he will need a lengthy period to
settle in over here. I think he is one for next season."
But Strachan’s hand was forced by the cruel hand of fate that has
dumped a virtual first eleven on to the injury list.
Coventry’s medical staff are working flat out to try to get the
walking wounded back into the action.
It was a surprise to many that striker Robbie Keane did not line up
at Leeds. It later transpired that he had not trained during the squad’s
week long break in Spain because of a knee ligament injury.
Zuniga scored a few goals in practice matches and Strachan saw
enough to convince him that, with Noel Whelan needed in midfield, the
Peruvian could go in alongside Cedric Roussel, playing his first match
after severe concussion.
Hendry’s inclusion was more puzzling. He was included alongside
Gary Breen when most judges thought Richard Shaw was the obvious
partner for the new man. Shaw was not injured. He was on the
substitutes’ bench and went on at half-time to play at right-back in
place of Barry Quinn.
"It was a surprise. I realised during the week that we had a
lot of players injured. The manager did not speak to me about it. He
just picked me and so I played. It was everything I expected,
especially playing against Leeds, who are a very good team.
"We conceded an early goal and it was always going to be
difficult after that."
Coventry have goalkeeper Steve Ogrizovic (shoulder), defender Paul
Telfer (ankle), full back Tomas Gustafsson (calf), full back Marc
Edworthy (ankle), midfielder Carlton Palmer (calf), full back Marcus
Hall (knee), winger Steve Froggatt (ankle), striker John Aloisi
(hamstring) and striker Robbie Keane (knee) on the casualty list.
Moustapha Hadji missed the Leeds game through suspension.
He will be back to play against Aston Villa and it is hoped Keane,
Froggatt, Palmer and Gustafsson will also be back.