Cobblers assistant boss Knill excited by Coventry City FA Cup test

FITNESS DOUBT - Cobblers midfielder Joel Byrom is struggling with a hip problem

FITNESS DOUBT - Cobblers midfielder Joel Byrom is struggling with a hip problem

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Assistant boss Alan Knill says Coventry City is a ‘great club’ - but he believes the Cobblers can send the Sky Blues packing in the FA Cup first round on Saturday.

Flying high in Sky Bet League One, after years of decline and off-field problems, Coventry seem to be on the rise again under the expert guidance of Tony Mowbray.

They are fourth in Sky Bet League One, just a point behind leaders Walsall, and are looking good for promotion back to the Championship, a division they haven’t played in since relegation from that level in 2012.

Back at the Ricoh Arena after their troubled and unhappy year-long residency at Sixfields due to financial and ownership issues, Coventry - FA Cup winners back in 1987 - is a club that seems to be regaining its mojo, on and off the pitch.

Knill is excited at the prospect of the Cobblers making the short trip to the Ricoh this weekend, and says that he, Chris Wilder and all of the players are going there in a positive frame of mind.

“Coventry is a great club,” said Knill. “When the draw came out you looked at it and thought ‘that is a really tough draw’, and it is.

“They are a really good side going well in the league above, and Tony Mowbray is a really good manager, but I think we are a good side.

“We have played teams from the league above us this season, Colchester, Blackpool and Millwall, and we have done quite well.

“We weren’t outplayed in any of those games, and won two out of the three, so we go into the game with respect for Coventry, but in confident mood.

“The players all feel we can go there and cause an upset, and it would be an upset.”

Yep, the Cobblers are aiming to cause a good old-fashioned upset, and their chances are certainly enhanced by the fact 14-goal top-scorer Adam Armstrong won’t be playing as his parent club Newcastle United don’t want him cup-tied.

Coventry also have other selection issues to contend with, and Knill believes that the scalp of Mowbray’s men can be taken in a competition he still holds dear to his heart.

Asked if the FA Cup still has ‘the magic’, Knill said: “I think it does, and especially for us because you always want to play those bigger teams.

“We had a trip to Newcastle in the Capital One Cup which was a great experience for us, and you want to do that again.

“For the club, the prize money is really good, and if you go on and pull one of those great draws, then it can make so much difference to how you manage the football club, not just for this season, but for the next one as well.

“It is so important, and as a player I really enjoyed it because I always wanted to play against better players, and I did unfortunately. I played against Kevin Phillips, who scored four!

“But you want to go into these games and experience playing against better players, and you want to go to the bigger grounds and experience that as well.

“The competition died a little recently, but over the past couple of years it has come back.

“Everybody is playing their full team, all the big clubs want to win the competition, and it just seems to be like the same FA Cup that it used to be, and it’s a great competition.

“It’s a great competition, and we’re hoping it’s a great competition for us.”

Lawson D’Ath is available for the trip to the Ricoh after completing his three-match suspension for his sending off at Cambridge United, but there are injury doubts over Joel Byrom (hip) and Ryan Cresswell (groin).