Colin Cooper says there is no question of fatigue from his in-form Hartlepool United stars as they bid for back-to-back Cup upsets.
Cooper’s Pool knocked Notts County out of the FA Cup at Victoria Park on Saturday and now fancy their chances of eliminating more higher division opposition in the form of League One outfit Rotherham United.
The Millers swapped divisions with Pool last season and have made a steady start to life in the division above, but Hartlepool have already knocked Sheffield United and Bradford City out of this competition – and could make it a hat-trick against Steve Evans’ free-scoring side tonight.
Cooper will certainly resist the temptation to make wholesale changes and says that he was impressed by their energy in Monday morning’s training session. He is expected to limit the number of alterations to his starting XI in a bid to move closer to Wembley.
“I don’t think I can afford to do anything other than put my strongest side out,” he said.
“Every game is as important as the last one. We don’t have any priorities at this club and every game is as important as the last one. The most important thing for us is the next game and continuing the momentum that we’ve managed to build up.
“This is an important game because we want to keep building the results and it is a good competition.”
Pool are not blessed with the biggest squad and Cooper will limit any changes he makes to those he believes need a rest ahead of Pool’s long trip to Newport on Friday night.
That makes it three games in six days but Cooper says his team have reassured him that they are ready to play on in a bid to keep the club’s fantastic run of form going.
He said: “We don’t have access to the heart-rate monitors and the GPS systems that some of the bigger clubs in the country have buit we have our own systems where we can guage the players levels and how they can most effectively rest and recover. It is the same things that I’m sure a lot of clubs do but the biggest thing we will do is actually ask the players and speak to them.
“I’m delighted to say that to a man the players looked me in the eye and said ‘If we need to go again, we will.’ That is brilliant for me as a manager and I will try to get the strongest side out that I possibly can.
“Obviously if we see one or two looking a bit fatigued in training then we will look at maybe taking them out but I have to say every single player in the squad is champing at the bit to play. That’s a very positive thing for us.”
Rotherham head to Victoria Park off the back of a walloping win over Bradford and pose another test for their hosts. “I don’t think it needs to bother us that they are in a higher division than we are,” Cooper said.
“They are going well at the moment, they are full of confidence and scoring goals. They will coming here and looking to do that again but it is up to us to continue doing what we have been doing so well.
“I keep making the point to the players that we are getting ourselves into good positions by working hard, being organised and turning in honest displays.
“We are giving ourselves a chance by doing that and I want that to continue.”