After a period in which it was commonplace for academy-produced youngsters to be regulars in the starting XI, it is pretty much Josh Eccles on his own who is flying the flag for homegrown talent at Coventry City. Having looked on the verge of breaking into the first-team for a few years now, this appears to be Eccles’ time to make an impression at senior level for the Sky Blues. The early signs this campaign didn’t look promising for Eccles, who may still have been recovering from last season’s injury issues, but some positive recent performances have suggested that he has a shot at sticking around the first XI for the foreseeable future.
A central midfielder who can both protect the defence and offer something in possession, Josh Eccles’ energy and use of the ball appear to be his strongest attributes. A recent run in the side has highlighted a handy knack of being able to nick the ball away from opponents, which has helped the team during a shift to a more defensive style of play. That combination of energy, intelligent use of the ball and the ability to win it back is why Mark Robins has used Josh Eccles so often outside of his natural position, at right wing-back, with his tactical intelligence going some way to accounting for a shortage of pace. Nonetheless, it is probably in central midfield where Eccles longer-term future lays.
Having had to fight so hard against both senior players and injuries in order to get close to the first-team, any kind of regular minutes for Josh Eccles represents positive progress. With Ben Sheaf and Gustavo Hamer among the best central midfielders in the Championship, it is going to be difficult for Eccles to play regularly in his preferred position for the time being. Being able to play at right wing-back allows Eccles the opportunity to get up to speed with the rigours of regular senior football, which should make for a smoother transition back to central midfield when there is an opening in the starting XI. A promising young player, just how good Josh Eccles could go on to be will only become apparent when he plays regular football, which he is very close to doing.