AS the curtain comes down on Darlington’s league season, Mark Cooper intends to field “as near” to his Wembley team as possible against Rushden and Diamonds today.
The Quakers take on Mansfield Town in the FA Trophy final next Saturday, with Cooper close to finalising his starting XI.
He has chosen not to have the Stags watched in their final league game at Bath City this afternoon.
While making amends for a 2-1 defeat at Rushden in October is a priority, Cooper (pictured above) admits of equal importance is to hand his side a dry run for seven days’ time.
He said: “I think we have to be looking to now get close to, or as near to, the team that is going to play at Wembley. It might not be identical, but it will certainly be close. It is our last chance to test it properly before the big game.
“We want to go out on a high, so we will be playing a strong team.
“I was not happy with our performance at Rushden. We caved in, gave up, surrendered.
“It was probably one of the worst games we have played, so we are due a performance.
“The last few games we have had decent results and we want to finish off on a high for the home supporters and take that form into Wembley.”
He added: “Rushden got into the play-offs last year but I think (manager) Justin Edinburgh had the rug pulled from under his feet this year, financially, after changes of ownership midway through the season.
“That never helps, and he will just be happy to get to the end of the season knowing they are safe.”
Meanwhile, having revealed he means to add up to six new players to his squad this summer, Cooper has confessed the hardest part of his job is telling those he no longer needs their time under him is over.
He said: “I am not just going to keep people here for the sake of it. I have to make the team better.
“So if I think somebody becomes available who I think can make us even better I will bring him in.
“On the other hand, I had to sit down with the young YTS lads last week and tell them at 17, 18 years old they were not getting a professional contract.
“It is not a great part of the job, but it has to be done.”