Coventry City boss Tony Mowbray has declared his admiration for Swindon Town dangerman Nicky Ajose and has revealed that he was on the cusp of signing the striker earlier this season.
The two sides do battle in a crunch clash at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday (3pm Kick-Off) with the race for the play-offs really starting to hot up as the 2015/16 campaign reaches its climax.
Town are currently nine points off the top six and six points adrift of Coventry who sit just outside of the play-off places – while the Robins have a game in-hand on tomorrow’s foes.
Both teams will be relying on their top scorers to produce the goods this weekend, with the Sky Blues able to boast Newcastle United starlet Adam Armstrong among their ranks.
Armstrong has plundered 19 goals on the domestic front so far this term but hasn’t notched in his last five outings, while Ajose now leads the division in scoring having notched his 20th league goal of the season during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Millwall.
However, it could have all been so different with Ajose – who has seven goals in his last five matches – on the brink of a move to Coventry back in the summer.
But the striker instead opted for a return to Wiltshire after tearing up his contract at Leeds United, leaving Mowbray to ponder what might have been if things had panned out differently.
“He was coming here,” he told the Coventry Telegraph.
“I spoke to him in a hotel just after the start of the season. Mark Venus (City’s Technical Director) had lots of conversations with Leeds and it was just about his contract.
“He was contracted to Leeds and they were moving him on and it was all about his deal there and how much was going to be compromised etc.
“I liked him as a lad – he seemed to have a nice personality. I spoke to Darren Ferguson (Ajose’s boss at Peterborough United) and he spoke very well of him even though he let him go.
“Darren thought that he’d probably made a mistake.
“I spoke to other people about him and like anything, some people’s opinion is one thing and others only see the negatives.
“He has got negatives, things that he’s not very good at, but he has things that he can do and one of those is he can stick a ball in the back of a net.
“It would have been interesting to have had (Adam) Armstrong and Ajose in the same team.
“They can both play wide and score from wide areas and that’s what I like about them – their versatility because they can play up front, play wide and play No.10 or No.9.
“And he had a good record at this level, which he’s continued.”
Mowbray has also backed Adam Armstrong to rediscover his goalscoring touch sooner rather than later and reclaim top spot in the race for League One’s golden boot.
“Is he going to spur Adam on? I don’t know,” Mowbray said when asked if Ajose’s recent exploits in front of goal will spark Armstrong into life.
“Maybe he’s a bit anxious to get a goal. I don’t know how many games it is since he’s scored and I think he’s had some opportunities and that he’s probably snatched at one or two.
“But he’s the sort of player who will go and score a hat-trick or another two because he scores two all the time.
“He’s the type who won’t score for two or three games and then, potentially, score seven or eight in three matches.
“He’s fine, doing ok and working really hard in training and hopefully he’ll score a good few goals between now and the end of the season.
“He doesn’t have to work any harder or get any more anxious – he just wants to score goals.
“He’s had opportunities but maybe he’s just been in a bit of a rush in the box, but he’ll score more – I’m sure of that.”