Ahead of his side’s home clash against Derby County, Coventry City defender Ben Turner sat down with the Press to discuss breaking into the starting XI, his partnership with Nathan Cameron and his hopes for the rest of the season.
Aged just 21, and having displaced the experienced James McPake from Coventry’s back four, one might expect Ben Turner to be full of self-importance. As he enters the Press Room, however, it becomes clear that the defender is not the type to become conceited. There is a noticeable shyness about Turner and his humble demeanor is a refreshing change from the brashness that can often come with first team success. Considering each question thoughtfully, and offering some honest answers, the centre-back is keen to stress the importance of performance, both for his individual game and for the good of the team.
Aidy Boothroyd has admitted that he is not afraid to make big changes and for Coventry fans so far this season, there has been nothing more surprising than the Yorkshireman’s decision to demote McPake and Richard Wood, and replace them with a young, and unproven, pairing of Turner and Nathan Cameron. This move appears to be paying dividends and Ben reveals that he is relishing the chance he has been given: “I was obviously pleased to be picked in the first game, I was happy with the team performance and my individual performance against Portsmouth, and I was pleased to stay in the side for the Watford game. It’s a lift, you want to be in the team and you want to be playing well.”
Competition, something which the boss is keen to encourage, is strong at the Sky Blues and the 21-year-old admits that he will not allow complacency to creep into his game. Perhaps this is just as well considering that, despite helping the Sky Blues to a clean sheet against Portsmouth, he does not seem to have won over the fans yet. In a recent poll by the Coventry Telegraph, a surprising 89 percent of voters admitted they would rather see Scotsman McPake in the starting line-up. The young centre-back, however, seems unfazed: “I managed to get into the team. But now it’s a matter of keeping playing well, nine times out of ten, because the lads he [Boothroyd] has got to replace you with, if he sees fit, in my position are experienced and quality players.”
Although Turner may not have fully convinced the Ricoh faithful, one player who has been receiving rave reviews is his defensive partner Cameron. The Academy Graduate looks like a real gem for the future and Ben, in keeping with his team-centred attitude, lavishes praise upon the 18-year-old. “He’s been fantastic. I think that in the game against Watford, Nathan was one of the few players who could really say that he played pretty well. He was unfortunate to be playing in a team that was mostly poor performing.”
Some fans may be apprehensive about having a defender aged just 18 controlling the backline but Turner is adamant that age should not come into it. “I think a lot of people are looking at Nathan and saying he’s a young lad and whatnot,” he declares. “But he is there on merit. Everyone at the club works together and from what’s happened in pre-season, Nathan deserves a chance to show what he is capable of.” Turner also singles out goalkeeper Keiren Westwood for plaudits and it is a clear message to the media, and those clubs who are looking for a cheap transfer, about how much the Irishman is valued at Coventry. “Of course he’s very important,” he enthuses. “He’s a very good player, and he’s a very good communicator as well, which is great because he can pull off a save and can also keep you organised at times when you need it.”
Despite his emphasis on keeping his players on their toes, Aidy Boothroyd opted for the same starting XI for Coventry’s first two games and the Birmingham-born defender should, therefore, be confident of a third successive start, against Derby County, this weekend. His main concern, however, appears to be the team getting back in form after a horror first half against the Hornets, which was not helped by the loss of back-up keeper Iain Turner, only a quarter of an hour in. A late resurgence and two last-gasp goals ensured that the Sky Blues returned from Vicarage Road with a point, but Turner believes his side need to take their game to a new level to ensure they are in the top half of the table: “Hopefully, if I’m picked on Saturday we will have the chance, not to put the result right because we got a point and an away point is a good result, but a chance to reach the levels that I know I’m capable of and the team know they are capable of.”