Viktor Gyokeres is causing quite the stir in the Championship. No player has been involved in more goals in the second tier this season and with 17 goals and six assists to his name, he is sure to have a whole host of clubs chasing his signature this summer.
One man who knows exactly what it is like to play both with the Swedish forward and against him, is Blackburn Rovers defender Dom Hyam, who spent five years with the Sky Blues. And the Scottish centre-back was full of praise for his former teammate, naming him as one of his toughest opponents so far.
“Cov's striker at the moment Gyokeres is doing really well and I know him personally as well and it's good to see him absolutely flying,” he tells The Sportsman on our recent visit to Rovers’ training ground.
“And I think he's going to be sought after for clubs at high levels and abroad so it's good to see him doing so well on a personal level as well because I know him. Other than that, Chuba Akpom at Middlesbrough is flying as well, he's scoring just like every game at the moment or at least two a game so yeah, some really top quality strikers. There always has been, there always will be and I love playing against them.”
Gyokeres’ Coventry contract expires in 2024, and multiple Premier League clubs such as Everton and Leeds United are thought to be interested in signing him. It seems with or without the Sky Blues, he is destined to play in the top flight next term, and Hyam believes he can make it at the highest level.
“I don't think he's got a ceiling to be honest,” he says. “I think he's so good at what he does, his attributes are so rare as well. Obviously strikers have their qualities, but there's nothing he's bad at. He's good in the box, he's tall, he's big, he's strong, he's technically good as well. I think as long as he keeps grounded, which I know he will, I know him personally, yeah, I think he's got a massive career ahead of him.”
Hyam joined the Sky Blues in 2017, when the club were at their lowest ebb in League Two. However, he emerged as a pivotal player towards the end of that promotion season and played a key role in helping Coventry get back up to the second tier. One man who was key to his development was Mark Robins, who is now looking to get the Sky Blues into the play-offs in the Championship.
“I enjoyed working with Mark Robins for four or five years,” Hyam tells The Sportsman. “He put a lot of faith in me as a young defender, relatively inexperienced, I think I was 20/21. And, yeah, obviously, there were still ups and downs. You know, as any footballer has, it's wasn't plain sailing, I didn't go straight into the team, I wasn't playing consistently straightaway, and I still had to bide my time, which I'm grateful to him for sticking by me and yeah, I just got a lot to thank him for.”
This summer however, as Coventry struggled to play their home games, Hyam heard of Blackburn’s interest and with Jon Dahl Tomasson at the helm, wanted to see what new surroundings could offer him.
“It was a new one for me,” Hyam says about the summer transfer. “Obviously, I can only control what I do on the pitch, conversations with my agents were going on for a few weeks and stuff. And then it went quiet. And then all of a sudden, it was back on again. So obviously, while it was ongoing, obviously I knew about the interest from Blackburn and really wanted to give it a go. So I'm just happy it got done in the end. And here I am.
“I wanted to try something new, from the outside in Blackburn are a massive club with a huge history. Some exciting players, and obviously, the new manager with a new system. I just want to be part of something really exciting. So yeah, loads of reasons to come up here. And yeah, I’m really loving it.”