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Northampton v Hartlepool preview
COMPLACENCY won’t come into Hartlepool United’s thinking in the next few weeks.
Amid a strong run of performances and positive results, Pools are at Northampton Town – bottom of League Two – this afternoon, before taking on Torquay – second bottom – next weekend. Their next five games are all against teams in the lower reaches of the table.
Tuesday’s 1-1 draw at Southend, the team directly above them in seventh spot, means Pools have lost only once in their last six games. They have only conceded two goals in that run.
But there’s no getting carried away for Cooper and Co and the manager insisted: “We’ll prepare on the Vic and try to pick a team which we hope will give us a good chance of getting a result.
“A change of management will have galvanised Northampton, so we’ll have to be guarded.
“There is not a great deal between the league, from where we are in eighth down to the bottom.
“There are no gimmes, if we are not well prepared and ready we’ll have our backsides kicked.
“But if we are ready and we can get our noses in front against a team who are used to losing - that’s when you have to try to make it work.’’
The Cobblers have not won at home since November 30 and, with time and games running out, Cooper accepts their recently-appointed boss Chris Wilder, who strangely swopped his role at promotion-chasing Oxford for a relegation scrap, will have his side focused.
“They’ll give it everything,’’ said Cooper. “Chris had Oxford flying and now he’s gone to the other end and he’s brought in Alan Knill who is a fantastic football man as well.
“They will be ready for us. We’ll have to be ready for that and what they throw at us.’’
And Cooper admits the professionalism of his players, recovery from Tuesday’s exertions and preparation for this one, will be put to the test.
Pools trained at Victoria Park yesterday morning before setting off back down the M1.
However, he’s unlikely to make any changes to his side out of choice this afternoon.
“When you have a three-game week I keep saying to the players is that if you are in the team and doing well, my first thought is that you deserve to keep your place,’’ he said.
“We look at the Southend game again and wonder if it’s stretching anyone? We have people who can come in and do a job and people who can come off the bench and do a job.
“It’s a case of seeing how everyone is. We watched the game on the way back the other night and see if there’s anything we change and then, when we look at Northampton in detail, is there anything there we can exploit?
“We have played teams at the top and did well, but we won’t allow standards to slip.
“We stressed after Tuesday that we don’t put that level of effort in to get something at Southend and then flatten at the end of the week. We have to peak again on Saturday.
“But there is lots of energy in the squad and it’s important we have enough energy on Saturday to compete, be stubborn and keep the ball out of our goal and be creative in possession to counter what Northampton have and try and win the game.’’
Cooper added: “It’s a fair point that there’s the mental side of it at the end of a long week with lots of travelling. But we give them as much rest as we can and it’s about what happens in between games, rest and recovery.
“After getting to bed at about five in the morning on Wednesday, that side of it becomes as important as what we do on the training ground.
“Hopefully everyone is back and as fresh as we can be to get going again.’’