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Coventry City are gearing up for another assault on the Midland Combination title in the forthcoming campaign.
After narrowly missing out on their "Think Premier" campaign with a runners-up finish last season, the Sky Blues will be eager to put things right this time around. With pre-season training less than two weeks away, manager Paul Cudby is anxious to get started. "I'm really looking forward to pre-season," he said, "it's been a long summer and certainly a very busy one getting everything ready for the new season."
Cudby's first season at the helm ended with some real positives as the Sky Blues came close, not only in the League but also the County Cup. "I think there's a buzz amongst the players," he added. "With the staff staying on this season it's given us a very strong foundation to build upon what we started last year. We all know what the players are individually and collectively capable of, and as a coaching team we know exactly how hard we're going to push them to fulfil their potential over this coming season and beyond."
The Sky Blues had looked a good bet for silverware when they overcame a slow start to the season to mount a 13-game winning streak. One of the catalysts for the run was the form of attack minded right back Natalie Wilcox, however, the 21-year-old Loughborough University student suffered a season ending injury in a 4-2 victory at TNS and is chomping at the bit to get back into the thick of the action. "Being on the sidelines was frustrating," she recalls. "I live for football and watching as our promotion push fell short and being powerless to do anything about it was without doubt my worst time within the game.
"I'm back to full strength and I am looking to make even more of an impact this season. I am mentally and physically stronger with a refreshed outlook and can't wait for pre-season to get underway."
Last season's top scorer and player of the year, Helen Dermody, is also eager to get started: "I was really disappointed to miss out on promotion for the third year in a row. We need to start next season well and make sure we don't drop points to teams that we should be beating. I'm really looking forward to next season and hope that we can build on last year and get promotion."
Wilcox agreed that a third straight second place was a bitter pill to swallow: "To miss out on promotion for the third time in three seasons was devastating, but we have to channel that into next year. There is a good spirit at the club and hopefully we can learn from the mistakes we have made as individuals and as a team and use it to our advantage this season.
"The league is getting tougher but we are getting more experienced so hopefully it will be our year, I'm feeling optimistic."
Pre-season training begins on Thursday 9th July at Coventry University's Westwood Heath Sports Ground (7pm-9pm) with sessions also slated for Sunday 12th July, again at Coventry University (10am-12pm) and finally on Tuesday 14th July at the Moathouse facility in Wood End (7pm-9pm). The three training sessions will continue weekly up until the season begins in early September.
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