Stern John and Chris Birchall have been draw into a tug of war regarding their international commitments as Coventry attempt to steer their promotion bandwagon back on course, writes Ian Clarkson.

The Sky Blues have enlisted the help of Fifa and the Football Association in a bid to resolve an argument with Trinidad & Tobago over the availability of the aforementioned duo.

Wim Rijsbergen, the T&T manager, called up the pair for friendly internationals against Nicaragua and Panama in Port of Spain on Saturday and Wednesday respectively.

The Sky Blues wrote to the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation requesting that the play-ers, who travelled to the Caribbean on Sunday, play against Nicaragua this weekend but miss Wednesday's match with Panama. This would have allowed them to return to Englan for the match at Southend a week tomorrow.

Coventry thought this would be a formality after a similar request for Dwight Yorke was granted but their plea was rejected out of hand Sky Blues finance director Mal Brannigan said: "Coventry City initially requested that both players be excused from the two friendlies when the call-up papers were received as the games were of a non-competitive nature," he said. "This was rejected and so Coventry, aware that for friendly matches the players have to be released only 48 hours before the date, offered to release the players on October 2 so that they could return on October 8.

"This meant that Stern and Chris would be available to Trinidad & Tobago for longer than the 48-hour rule and that Coventry City would have the players available and refreshed for its game on Friday 13 October.

"The club is still to receive any response from the TTFF with regard to this request and has enlisted the help of the FA. The TTFF brought the matter to Fifa's attention and so Fifa are also being kept within the correspondence loop by both Coventry City and the FA.

"Coventry City is aware that there are a number of British clubs who are currently contesting the necessity for their respective players to be involved in both matches and that in one particular instance, Sunderland has been able to agree the release of Dwight Yorke after the first game. In good faith, and prior to receiving any response from TTFF, Coventry City released both players on October 2."