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Pools go to Sheffield United in JPT
A WEEK of three successive away games started on a positive note for Hartlepool United. Now boss Colin Cooper is urging his players to make sure the standards are maintained.
Saturday’s impressive 4-1 win at Mansfield is followed by tonight’s game at Sheffield United and then a trek to Exeter.
Pools will cover well over 1,000 miles on the motorways, but if they can reproduce their first performance and result with two of a similar nature, the hours will fly by.
The victory at Mansfield – who were eight unbeaten going into the game – set the standards.
“From my point of view it's small steps and that was a terrific away performance,’’ reflected Cooper, who will be without the suspended Jack Baldwin tonight. “We have two more away matches to come.
“We'll be able to gauge on Saturday evening when we're coming back from Exeter how the week has gone – let’s not leave everything at Mansfield, let’s go to Sheffield and Exeter and back this up.’’
While many have the option of resting and changing their team for a Johnstone’s Paint Tropht tie, it’s not something Cooper is able to really do. “I think rotation is dangerous,’’ he warned. “We're not Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United. I think we need to put our best team out.
“We have a lot of bumps and bruises and opportunities will come. “Jordan Richards came on at the weekend for the last ten minutes or so and gave a terrific cameo. “I'll say to the lads 'if you want me to put you in the team show me what you can do'. I'm not just going to put people in because they think they should be in the side.
“Jordan was terrific in training and he deserved to be on the bench and deserved his run out.
“I'll pick the best team I can, Sheffield United are in League One “If I thought I can go to Sheffield United and rotate the team then that's surely being over-confident “I'm focusing on going to Sheffield United and putting on a good show for Hartlepool. Whatever that team turns out to be I'll be expecting the same level of commitment.’’
Pools thumped Bradford 5-0 in the last round of this competition. They won 3-2 at Bramall Lane last season in League One and the Blades are struggling this season, with five points from ten games under new boss David Weir.
“Sheffield United are a division up on us, like Bradford in the last round,’’ added Cooper. “It’s a challenge and an exciting one. I loved, as a player, playing at Bramall Lane. They have very passionate fans. “I’m not sure the club will be feeling great about themselves right now, but I know David Weir and his philosophies and he is a winner.
“He knows and believes in what he is doing and it’s about finding the formula to push on.
“It’s a massive club and a great challenge. Despite what went on with Hartlepool last season, they went there and won – probably the result of the season. To go there is difficult, but we go there confident.
“Be compact, disciplined and organised and then have something to hopefully continue in the competition like we did against Bradford.’’
Pools were superb in victory on Saturday, with their attacking players causing endless problems for the home defenders.
Jack Compton scored two and set up James Poole for the fourth goal and Cooper was delighted with his display, while starting on the right wing as opposed to his usual left sided berth. “He has been our major contributor of threat, going around the outside and getting crosses in,’’ he said.
“We looked to do something a little differently. Me and Craig spoke about trying to get another player in the middle of the field and someone like Pooley is ideal “If we have a barrier in Simon and Jack Baldwin it gives James Poole opportunity to get in those positions where he is very tricky and clever.
“But coming in off the wing we are encouraging Jack to use that left foot a little bit more. “You are attacking a defender's weak shoulder for a start. If he's a left-footed left-back you are going on his right shoulder onto his inside and it's a slow side for defenders To come in and strike it as well as he did he's more than capable of that.’’
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