CHRIS Birchall is determined to re-establish himself in Coventry City's first-team plans this season.
The Trinidad and Tobago international slipped down the pecking order in the second half of last term and, with the arrival of right winger Ellery Cairo this summer, many assumed that his Sky Blue days were numbered.
But the midfielder has been assured that he is still part of the manager's plans and is fit and raring to show the fans what he has to offer, given a decent run of games.
"The gaffer has given everyone a fair share of run outs and myself probably more than that,"
said the 23-year-old who signed from Port Vale 12 months ago. "I am pleased with the progress.
"We all did well against lower league opposition and the final two fixtures were a step up and I thought we played well, particularly in the second half against both Espanyol and Udinese, and we are all just working on our fitness and trying to be ready for Barnsley.
"I didn't play as many games as I would have liked during the second half of last season.
The gaffer knows that and to come into the team when you have been out for a while with no match fitness is the worst thing for a footballer, so it was important to get a good pre-season under my belt, and I feel great and ready to go.
"I still feel very much part of the manager's plans. He's a very vocal manager and pulls you in to his office all the time and any time you need a chat, and it is plain to me that I am in his plans.
"I know I didn't feature much when he came in but he has explained his reasons and it is a new season now and I am ready to go."
And Birchall insists that confidence won't have taken a knock following the 2-0 defeat by Udinese last weekend.
"It is good to play against higher opposition like the two foreign sides because they are teams that pass it and you have to get your tactics right," he said reflecting on the two warm-up games at the Ricoh Arena.
"We were run a bit ragged at times but, if nothing else, it is great for fitness and I am sure we will benefit from it.
"It is difficult playing different positions and I found myself at right back when David McNamee got injured against Espanyol, but if the gaffer wants me to play in more than one position that is fine by me if it is good for the team. I am just pleased to be in the team.
"The gaffer has got a real headache as far as his selection goes for the first game but we are all hoping to be in the starting line-up. The lads have had a great pre-season and everyone is just raring to go against Barnsley.
"The atmosphere in the camp is brilliant and we are just looking forward to getting started."