Mark Robins believes Wolves cub Ryan Giles has ‘Premier League quality’ – but faces some hard graft to win a place in his Coventry City team.
Giles started his Sky Blues loan on the bench as an unused substitute in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Bolton at St. Andrew’s.
The 20-year-old had a watching brief as Sam McCallum took the left wing back slot, while Brandon Mason, who has played 17 games in all competitions this season, wasn’t even on the bench after playing in the FA Cup fourth round replay against Birmingham City on Tuesday night.
McCallum, 19, is back at Coventry on loan for the rest of the season after his £3.5m move to Norwich.
Giles has played 25 matches in all competitions for Coventry’s League One rivals Shrewsbury Town before returning to the Wolves bench for the recent 2-1 defeat to Liverpool.
But as Sky Blues manager Robins acknowledges, there’s no guarantee of a regular place in his side.
“Ryan’s got every chance – he’s a good player, but if my squad is strong, it picks itself, so everybody has got to fight for a place,” Robins told www.wolvesbite.com
“There are no guarantees of anything, apart from you’ve got to work hard to retain or gain a place in the team.
“We’re trying to develop and improve all the time, and you can only do that by working as hard as you can, and then people are in a position to take their chance when it’s given to them.
“He’s powerful and he’s got Premier League quality – he can cross the ball on the run and he can put it on the money.
“That was why I went with Ryan on the bench to cover the left-hand side (instead of Mason) because I wanted an extra attack-minded player.
“Sam’s more defensive-minded and if I brought him off, they (Bolton) were looking to cause us problems because they pushed Dennis Politic high, so I might have had to change it slightly.
“But Ryan’s going to give us something that we haven’t got or haven’t had.
“Ryan’s going to push Sam all the way now, that’s for sure, and it’s down to Sam to keep doing what he’s doing.”
Giles hasn’t played since January 14, his last game for Shrewsbury, a 1-0 win against Bristol City in the FA Cup.
Robins says the youngster has to get fitter before being considered for first-team duty.
“He’s got a bit of work to do – he’s got to get himself up to fitness level because he’s not played for a while,” said the Sky Blues chief.
“He was on the bench for Wolves a few weeks ago but that tells you the quality they see him in because they’ve got the faith to stick him on the bench.
“He’s part of the matchday squad with Wolves in the Premier League so he’s got a part to play, that’s for sure.”
Coventry play a similar system to Wolves with a 3-4-2-1 formation and Giles can play anywhere down the left.
Asked if he sees Giles only as a wing back, Robins said: “Not necessarily but we’ll see.
“He’s only been in a few days and we’ve had two games so we’ve not been able to see too much in the building.”
Coventry’s head of recruitment Chris Badlan and their head of goalkeeping Aled Williams both used to work in Wolves Academy and so know all about Giles, and Bright Enobakhare – who enjoyed a successful loan with the Sky Blues last season – before him.
McCallum has got his big move after just 25 League games but Robins has no qualms about his temperament in stepping up to the Premier League.
“There are some that can handle it and some can’t, but he’s the type of character and personality who can handle everything, and he’s been that way ever since he came through the door,” said Robins.
“He’s very level-headed, he’s from a good family who all support him really well and I was sorry to lose him because he’s progressing really well.
“I wanted him to stay for another 18 months – if we could – because he could get to a level with us. But Norwich is a good club – I know that because I played there for nearly three years.
“I told him that and said it’s a really good place to play your football, the supporters are passionate and you’ve got a team that may go down to the Championship this season, but if they can survive in that, it’s a fantastic club to be at because they develop young players.
“I think it’s a decent choice for him – if he was going to leave here, I don’t think there was a better place for him to go.”
Robins added: “Ultimately Sam’s doing really well but he still has a long way to go – he’s not the finished article by any stretch of the imagination.
“He’s still got to do things to get to the level where he needs to be for Norwich. His positioning still needs work – he needs to know when he needs to get back in and cut off (the run of) the winger.
“Sometimes he’s too far in front and tactically it’s not quite right, although Dominic (Hyam) helped him a bit, but for the most part he does a brilliant job and he understands things. He’s a front foot player and he wants to get forward.
“But he’s only been in the professional game for 18 months and the strides he’s made are really encouraging.
“If he can continue in the same vein then you’ve got a real player on your hands because I believe he’s going to progress and he’s going to be a top player.
“Brandon had 120 minutes on Tuesday night and Sam couldn’t play in the Cup game so he came in fresh and it was just a preference on the day.
“But Brandon did really well on Tuesday and he can count himself unlucky not to make the matchday squad. There’s no doubt he will be playing very soon.”
Coventry are fourth, just two points off the final automatic promotion spot and they have two games in hand on Wycombe, the team currently in that position.