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Deer me. Bus collision the latest drama for Pools
HEADING back from a miserable defeat at Leyton Orient, Neale Cooper was laid out, nearly asleep, while watching an all-action hero Jack Bauer in the series 24.
Suddenly, the Hartlepool United boss thought he was in a real life situation mirroring the small screen hero.
It was no act of terrorism, however, more an act of nature - the Pools team bus struck a deer on the A66.
"I was half asleep, watching 24 on DVD and then ... bang!'' he said yesterday.
"I just woke right up and the windscreen was totally shattered. The driver kept us on going, we were overtaking a lorry at the time and he carried on straight.''
It was almost 4am when the incident happened, Pools returning back from London where they made it ten games without a win.
With injuries and knocks affecting his squad and a share of his players turning out for the reserve team on Wednesday evening at Tranmere after getting back from Orient in the early hours, the training ground was a sparse place yesterday.
Pools take on Crawley tomorrow at Victoria Park, getting desperate for a second win of the season.
"Hitting the deer shocked a few people,'' added Cooper. "I thought 'can this get any worse? Why our bus?'. I'm sitting in the front and was shocked.
"The deer had its antlers stuck in the wipers and the windscreen shattered.
"It was gone four o'clock in the morning when we got back. It wasn't nice.''
Cooper instigated double training sessions in recent weeks to try and kick his players out of their malaise, while Sundays have also been part of the regime.
But, with a busy schedule ahead - Pools are at Bury next Tuesday - Cooper and his coaches are adapting their plans.
"Some boys played on Wednesday as well after getting back so late. They were rested on Thursday. They need resting and we have a practice match on Friday,'' he said.
"We'll see how we go on Saturday and see with injuries before I decide if we need another Sunday session.
"But I need the boys right now. I don't need them wanting to kill me, if you know what I mean. I've got to keep them onside so we can battle through it.
"I will judge it [training sessions] on the day and then there's another game Tuesday.''
Pools have adopted a nasty habit of conceding late goals, with Doncaster's leveller at Victoria Park last weekend coming in the closing stages. Nine goals have been shipped in the last eight minutes of games.
"It's a mental thing, it's not down to fitness, I think they look fit both pre-season and now,'' said Cooper. "Last week we switched off, no danger at all and Peter [Hartley] challenges him and pushes him over.
"It's a free-kick, a great cross, bang, goal. It's come from that free-kick.
"Things do conspire against you - the deer was the last straw! It had to be our bus didn't it? Listen, I'm battling on and I'm positive. I'm tired myself, physically and mentally.
"They are good boys. It's not like they're arguing or anything, there's a good atmosphere, I promise you."