Bigirmana ban is big blow to Sky Blues

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COVENTRY City will be seeking their first away win in the Championship this season in tomorrow’s game at the Keepmoat Stadium.

But they will have to do it without teenage star Gael Bigirmana, who has been lighting up the Ricoh Arena in his debut season.

Bigiramana, who came to Coventry as a refugee as a 13 year-old, is already being tipped as a future Premier League star after less than a dozen Championship games.

But he will sit out tomorrow’s game against Rovers after being sent-off for a two-footed tackle on his 18th birthday in last Saturday’s game against Burnley.

City, who had picked up four points from their previous two games, were leading 1-0 at the time but the Clarets levelled the scores and then grabbed a stoppage-time winner.

It was not the first time this season that Coventry have been beaten by a stoppage-time goal - it happened at Crystal Palace where the Eagles scored twice to claim a flattering 2-1 win.

Bigirmana, who knocked on the door of the club’s Academy as a young teenager, is not the only youngster in City’s regular starting line-up this season with manager Andy Thorne being forced to turn the hard-up club’s young prospects after losing nine senior players during the summer.

Right-back Cyrus Christie is another junior to have come through the ranks as is right-sided midfielder Conor Thomas, who celebrates his 18th birthday tomorrow.

Thomas joined Liverpool on loan in the second half of last season with a view to a big-money permanent deal in the summer, but the youngster, who also had injury problems, didn’t settle on Merseyside and returned to the club.

The visitors could have another teenager, 19 year-old Nathan Cameron, in the back-four, if regular centre-back Richard Wood is ruled out.

Former Owls man Wood, who scored the City goal in the 1-1 draw at Leeds, was rated a doubt in midweek with a dead leg and ankle problem.

Both Gary McSheffrey, who rejoined the club from Birmingham in the summer, and fellow midfielder Carl Baker, both proved their fitness, after injuries, in the Reserves on Tuesday.

Boss Thorn generally favours a diamond formation with skipper Sammy Clingan - a target for Rovers when at Nottingham Forest during Dave Penney’s spell in charge - playing the holding role.