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CONSIDERING Stern John's less than happy first 15 months with Coventry City, you wouldn't expect him to feel at home at the Ricoh Arena.


But after an even worse experience at Derby County - where he went on loan for three months with a view to a permanent move - a return couldn't come quick enough for the frequently under-fire striker. "It's good to be back," was the unlikely response of the Trinidad and Tobago international, who appeared surplus to Micky Adams's requirements when, having failed to make an impact on the new season, he was sent packing to Pride Park in September.

But his fresh start quickly turned into his worst nightmare as the unforgiving Rams fans turned on the former Nottingham Forest star, booing him on the field of play in the same way Sky Blues' supporters turned on him shortly after he joined the club.

Many a player would have crumbled under the strain, having already been in possession of extremely fragile confidence, but John is made of sterner stuff than that and remains determined to prove his critics wrong in a City shirt.

"I feel more confident and it feels like coming home again," he said after enjoying a warm welcome back from the fans in Wednesday night's Crewe debacle.

"I liked the reception I got when I went on and hopefully I can build on that.

"It was a difficult time to go on when I did because we had been bossing the game and then we ended up chasing it, so it was a bit hard.

"But hopefully I did my bit and I like to think I can come back and do the business now.

"It is going to be an important time for me with the World Cup coming in the summer, so I need to be playing games. I have been working really hard since I have been back from Derby to try to get back in the team."

And although John knows he has got his work cut out to push himself back into the starting line-up, he feels the newfound team confidence and brand of football that goes with it will play straight into his hands.

"The lads are playing really attractive football and that's the type of football I can play," he said.

"We are passing the ball, keeping the ball and doing well by getting results, and that's the sort of football every footballer likes to play.

"So I think it will definitely suit my game. That's the type of football teams in the Premier League play. They receive the ball and then move it about and pass it well. As long as we can mix it up a bit in between, we should be OK.

"Not every game is going to be about passing the ball well and sometimes you have to put up a fight, but hopefully the fans will understand the way we play.

"I think the team have done brilliantly well in the last few games and I want to be a part of that.

"I know I am going to have to work my way back in because I haven't played for a month really. My fitness

is there but I just need match fitness and stuff, and hopefully I can get a couple of games over this Christmas period and get back into the team and start banging in some goals."

As for his Derby experience, John appears to have come through unscathed bar, perhaps, a slightly bruised ego.

"It was a difficult situation for me at Derby but it is always difficult going out on loan," said the 29-year-old who prefers to take a more philosophical view.

"In hindsight I don't think I really did myself any favours going to Derby in the first place due to the fact that I used to play for Forest.

"I needed to win the fans over from day one but I didn't really do that and I think I was the victim of the fact that the rivalry between Derby and Forest is so big. They really had a go at me which was a bit unfair.

"I was just trying to catch my form and I don't think I did too bad. One of my goals was disallowed by the referee who later saw it on the video and apologised to the manager for the decision, saying that it was a goal. But that's what happens sometimes and if that had counted then I might have had a chance with the fans.

"But that's life sometimes and you have to roll with the punches. It could have changed everything for me but everything happens for a reason, and I am back at Coventry now and a Coventry player, so hopefully I can come back and prove myself here and help move the club up the table."

He added: "We have got two massive games against Preston and Wolves but the way we have been playing I think the team will be full of confidence. I have noticed that the spirit in the dressing room since I have been back is even better than it was before, and the team are definitely taking that out onto the pitch.

"The lads worked their socks off in the second half against Crewe and it was just unfortunate that we ended up drawing a game that we had been bossing. But that happens in football sometimes."