Business as usual for me says Robins

New arrival: Striker Leon Clarke in action for Coventry at Spurs in the FA Cup
New arrival: Striker Leon Clarke in action for Coventry at Spurs in the FA Cup
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Mark Robins is expecting a feisty clash in the second of three meetings between Coventry and Preston in quick succession.

The sides are in action at the Ricoh Arena in the area semi-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tonight (7.45pm).

It is less than three weeks since they met in the league at the same venue, the game ending in a 1-1 draw.

And they get another crack at each other later this month at Deepdale in League One action.

The Sky Blues and North End have their sights set on Wembley this evening.

Whoever comes out on top in the East Midlands will be just a two-legged area final away from playing at the national stadium in April.

Coventry boss Robins has found himself batting off speculation linking him with the Doncaster manager’s job in recent days.

But it is business as usual as he prepares for PNE’s televised visit.

“This competition represents an opportunity to go to Wembley and that’s not too far away, so everyone starts to focus on that,” said Robins.

“But we can’t focus on it, we can only focus on the opposition in the game.

“Preston came to the Ricoh a couple of weeks ago and put up a really good performance in the second half and made life difficult for us, so we expect the same.

“We know what to expect, they’ve seen us and I think it will be a good game.

“We want to make it as difficult as we possibly can for them and get there for our supporters.

“Lately we haven’t let them down too much and we want that to continue.

“So we have to fight to earn the right to play our football.

“Preston do what they do and do it well, and if they are on their mettle they are a match for anyone, and we have to match that threat.

“We pay them respect and look at what we can do to cause them maximum damage and try to limit the damage to ourselves.

“There has been a lot of work done and they will have done a lot on ourselves to progress.”

Both clubs will field new strikers, having done some early January shopping.

North End are set to give a debut to Joe Garner, while Coventry have added Leon Clarke to their ranks.

Former PNE loanee Clarke signed a two-and-a-half year deal on New Year’s Day after being released by Charlton.

He scored 11 goals during a loan spell at Scunthorpe earlier in the campaign, one of them in the Iron’s 3-2 defeat to Preston in October.

It was that form which caught the eye of Robins, who needed a replacement for David McGoldrick who had been on loan from Nottingham Forest. Robins said: “Garner is a good signing for them because he’s a decent player who works his socks off.

“He scored eight goals for Carlisle earlier in the season and played against us in my first game and was a handful.

“Hopefully he’ll take a little bit of time to settle,” added Robins.