Coventry City manager Micky Adams is hopeful that Stephen Hughes will play some part in the Sky Blues' Championship survival battle this season despite being taken off on a stretcher with a knee injury in Wednesday night's 2-0 win over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest.

Midfield man Hughes visited a specialist yesterday for a scan on suspected knee ligament damage. There were even fears that he might miss the remainder of the season. That could effectively mean he has kicked his last ball for the club, given the continued reported interest in him by Sunderland.

Adams said: "He has been fantastic since I've been at the club. He has shown great leadership qualities and he would be badly missed."

It is the second time that Hughes has been taken off on a stretcher at Highfield Road this season after a heavy challenge. After the previous occasion, against Rotherham United last September, he missed the following three matches.

But, following Hughes' scan, Adams' reading of the situation is that the damage is not as bad as was first feared. The Coventry manager is optimistic of a quicker return to fitness this time.

As he awaits further medical bulletins on Hughes before tomorrow's latest key date in their bid to avoid relegation at promotion-chasing West Ham, Adams was comforted by his rewards for showing faith in Dele Adebola.

The former Birmingham City striker's excellent individual goal was criticised by furious Forest manager Gary Megson who said: "You'd have to go a long, long way to find a more stupid goal than that at this level."

But Adams was understandably pleased with Adebola's skill and doggedness in creating a fourth goal of the season for himself, with a neat turn of pace and skill that resulted in him taking the ball all the way from the left touchline to the edge of the six-yard box.

Adams said: "We've got an awful lot of footballers out of contract at this club who want to prove their worth. Dele has the ability.

"All I've done is put a bit of fitness and confidence into all my players, not that I'm saying they weren't fit when I came here. And they're all benefitting as a result."