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Conway puts City first as striker elects not to join up with Scotland U21 squad

Conway puts City first as striker elects not to join up with Scotland U21 squad

Tommy Conway has elected not to join up with the Scotland Under-21 squad over this international break and instead has remained at the High Performance Centre to concentrate on working with new Bristol City head coach Liam Manning.

Conway was named in the U21 squad earlier this month for European Championship qualifiers against Belgium and Hungary, but the striker was mysteriously absent from last Friday’s game in Roeselare, with the 21-year-old simply listed among a group who were declared “injured/unavailable”.

There were concerns among supporters that Conway fell into the former category, with the Taunton-born attacker having missed the first two months of the 2023/24 campaign with a hamstring issue, but Bristol Live understands he has taken the decision to put club before country in what is an important time for his development and that of the Robins.

With Manning taking over just four days before City’s last Championship fixture at QPR leading into the international break, Conway would have had just two-and-a-half training sessions with the new head coach before returning back to Bristol this week to begin preparations for Saturday’s visit of Middlesbrough.

That would have left him at a potential disadvantage, or at least having to play catch-up with many of his teammates, given how important Manning is treating this fortnight as he looks to get his ideas and principles across to the squad.

Conway therefore decided to remain in Bristol and train under the new head coach, plus assistant Chris Hogg and coach James Krause, in a move that is beneficial to him, the coaching team and his teammates.

Getting Conway firing is likely to be one of Manning’s immediate thoughts given he struggled to make an impact at Loftus Road in the 72 minutes he was on the field, making just seven touches and completing four passes as he looked isolated through the middle of the attack.

Conway’s match-winning brace at Rotherham United in October outlined his importance to the club and finding the best system and strategy for the 21-year-old is paramount in turning around the Robins’ attacking fortunes.

Having placed a focus in his first few days at the HPC on out-of-possession work and, in particular, shape and structure when pressing, Manning is expected to have focused more on what his team do with the ball in recent sessions at Failand.

Tommy Conway closes down QPR defender Steve Cook (Photo by Ian Tuttle/REX/Shutterstock)

City possess the second-best defensive record in the division, with only Leicester City having conceded fewer than their 16 goals, but at the other end, the Robins rank 19th for goals scored, with only Rotherham, Huddersfield United, QPR and Sheffield Wednesday – who make up the bottom four – having found the target on fewer occasions than their 16.

With Nahki Wells unlikely to be back in training until next week, at the earliest, due to an ankle injury sustained at Leeds United at the start of October, Conway and Harry Cornick are Manning’s only frontline central strikers.

The new head coach does have a goal threat in wider positions from Sam Bell, Mark Sykes and potentially Andi Weimann, but Conway remains the most naturally talented and efficient finisher at the club.

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