If anyone is in any doubt as to Coventry's promotion credentials then a chat with Andy Marshall will alleviate any concerns.

An important win over Sunderland on Sunday was ideal preparation for the marathon ahead but the manner of victory wasn't always convincing.

In fact, Marshall was pressed into service on more occasions than he would have liked but met the challenge with consummate ease.

The arrival of Luke Steele on loan from Manchester United on Saturday just turned up the heat on Marshall, but he proved he is relishing his return to the limelight.

A former England Under-21 goalkeeper, Marshall's most recent brush with fame was appearing an FA Cup final with Millwall back in 2004.

The two intervening seasons at Millwall have been anything but joyous, culminating in their relegation at the end of last season.

A constant battle against the odds can prove to be a demoralising experience and Marshall had reached the end of the road at the new Den.

But a move to the Ricoh Arena has given this inexorably optimistic goalkeeper, the chance to return to the big stage once again.

"It was great for me to get that buzz back again during the win against Sunderland," said the 31-year-old.

"Personally, it had been missing for a while and I am playing at a fantastic stadium where there is a genuine chance of promotion.

"There is a big difference between Coventry and where I was least season.

"I think it is good to feel that you are part of proper professionally-run football club where, from the bottom to top rung, you are all striving for success.

"Sunderland are one of the top teams and I thought 2-1 was a far reflection on the game.

"I have heard some quotes from the Sunderland camp that I don't quite agree with but I suppose everyone looks at the game differently.

"It took us 20 minutes to get into our stride but after that I thought we were very comfortable. We conceded what, from our point of view, was a sloppy goal but I don't think they caused us any major problems from that moment on."

Marshall's demeanour and performances have already won him many admirers in Coventry as he settles into his two-year-deal.

Plans are already afoot to move to the area with his family on a permanent basis and he will hope a long over-due return to the Premiership is looming.

Such is the feelgood factor surrounding Coventry at present that not even the Gary McSheffrey saga can upset the apple cart.

He proved his worth with the winning goal on Sunday and Birmingham's persistent interest is clearly not affecting his game.

Like everyone else at the club, promotion is on the agenda this season, despite talk of a three-year plan.

All of which means competition for places will be intense and Marshall is aware that Steele hasn't arrived from Old Trafford on loan to sit on the bench.

Possession is nine-tenths of the law, however, and Marshall is the current incumbent of the goalkeeper's shirt. And he is adamant an excellent working relationship will be fostered with Steele.

"Luke only arrived on Saturday morning, so I haven't had too many opportunities to work with him as yet," added Marshall.

"He was bought up in and around Peterborough like me as a youngster and he seems like a great lad.

"It is good to be part of a competitive squad where you work in the right sprit with someone you genuinely like.

"He has come from the biggest club in the world as a young lad to gain experience.

"If either I, or [goalkeeping coach] Seamus McDonagh can help his learning curve then we will hopefully stand him in good stead for the rest of his career."

Nevertheless, Marshall is aware of the tough task that lies in wait for them at St Mary's Stadium tomorrow.

Managed by George Burley, who has a record of promotion from this division, Southampton are being widely tipped to cause a stir this season.

"I know George from my time at Ipswich and I know he sets thing up," admitted Marshall.

"His preparation is impeccable and he leaves nothing to chance.

"I would imagine they will be along with us - and around eight other teams - competing for promotion.

"That is why I joined Coventry, as there is such a positive atmosphere around the place and we expect to do well."