CONOR Chaplin was with Portsmouth as man and boy, but he reckons joining Mark Robins’ Coventry could be the making of him.
The diminutive forward joined the Sky Blues from boyhood club Pompey in the summer and, heading into the weekend, had bagged two goals in six starts.
His new boss, Robins, scored goals at the top level during his playing days – including, of course, the header that supposedly kept Sir Alex Ferguson in a job at Manchester United 28 years ago – and has made quite an impression on Chaplin already.
“I’m probably playing the best football I ever have because of the run of games and the belief that the manager’s shown in me,” said the 21-year-old.
“I feel comfortable and when you do have belief from the manager, it helps massively. He was quite similar to me in terms of his stature and position, so maybe he thinks he’s got a lot that he can help me with.
“I’m certainly not the finished article. I want to score more goals and have a better overall game.He’s the person that can help me do that. The belief comes from the things that he says to me on the training ground day in, day out, and playing every weekend.”
Chaplin had been at Portsmouth since the age of six before his summer switch. The terms of his transfer, initially a loan deal that is set to become permanent in January, meant that he was unable to feature as the Sky Blues were beaten 1-0 by his parent club at the start of the month.
Although born in Worthing, more than 35 miles along the south coast, Chaplin considers himself a Pompey boy – yet he has no regrets over fleeing the Fratton Park nest.
“It was a big decision but it wasn’t one that I was frightened of making because I felt that it was either stay at the club that I supported and just be an impact player off the bench or move and make a career for myself,” he said.
“That’s important to me because I’ve made sacrifices throughout my life to have a good career and do as well as I can. I don’t think that it was a hard decision for my career’s sake. With playing comes excitement and sometimes you do need change to get to another level and realise things that you hadn’t previously realised.
“There’s not one ounce of regret in me and I’m just looking forward to what’s to come.”
Like Pompey last term, Coventry are out to make their mark in League One following promotion. There’s more than a few passing similarities between two clubs that have both experienced the champagne lifestyle of Premier League football in the past.
“I think both clubs would admit that they belong in higher leagues, and both clubs are striving to do that,” said Chaplin.
“For me, the perfect season would be for both of us to go up, but as long as we do well here and we’re challenging at the top end of the table, I’ll be very happy.”