Cooper looking for more signs of Pools progress

Colin Cooper has challenged his Hartlepool United side to complete successive home wins for the first time since February.

Colin Cooper with Craig Hignett
Colin Cooper with Craig Hignett

Pool take on high-fliers Oxford United at Victoria Park this afternoon looking to build on their 2-1 home win over Accrington Stanley last time out.

And had Bristol Rovers not come up with a late equaliser at the Memorial Stadium last weekend, Cooper’s men could have gone into today’s game aiming to complete a hat-trick of victories.

Even so, Pool are keen to make it two wins out of three – although Cooper knows Chris Wilder’s Oxford will be stung by the loss of their unbeaten record against League Two leaders Chesterfield last weekend.

“I think in order to progress we need to follow a result with a result,” said Cooper.

“It would be lovely to get another home win but Oxford will be smarting after losing last weekend’s game.

“We all recognise that Chesterfield are a very good side but I think Chris (Wilder) was angry that his team didn’t perform as they can so he’ll want a reaction.”

Fourth-placed Oxford arrive at the Vic having dropped just two points in their four away games so far, but find themselves without the suspended duo of striker Dave Kitson and Andy Whing with Kitson missing out after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Chesterfield while Whing was sent off in the same game.

But even though the Us are without two of their key men, Cooper knows his fifth-bottom side will have to be at their best if they are to keep their recent revival going.

“Their away record is pretty good and although they’ve got a few players missing we’ll have to be on our mettle if we want to continue our progression,” he said.

“We’re not sure what they will do formation-wise after losing Kitson and Whing but whatever they do we have to impose ourselves on them as early in the game as possible.

“If we do that then we’ll give ourselves a chance of continuing the progress we’ve made.”

Pool will have midfielder Matty Dolan available after reaching agreement with Middlesbrough to extend his loan spell by another month.

Dolan joined Pool on a month’s loan in August and started six games before the deal expired following last weekend’s 2-2 draw at Bristol Rovers.

But the extension means the 20-year-old will now be eligible to play in all Pool’s games up to and including the home game against AFC Wimbledon on October 22.

Cooper said: “We’re delighted to be able to keep Matty here for another month.

“Obviously with youth loans you have to take it month by month but I’m really pleased that Matty is enjoying what he’s doing and he’s with us for another 28 days.

“He wants to get out in to the big wide world and test himself – he did it with Yeovil last year and we’re pleased he’s here doing it with us this year and we’ll keep him as long as possible.” Pool will make a late decision on the fitness of captain Antony Sweeney, who has been missing for six weeks with a calf problem but played for the reserves in midweek.

Teenager Brad Walker has been ruled out as he is still suffering from the ankle injury he suffered against Wycombe earlier this month.

Aside from the absences of Kitson and Whing, Oxford also have captain Jake Wright out with a groin injury while striker James Constable misses out with a foot problem.

But forward Sean Rigg returns to the squad after recovering from hamstring trouble.

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