COLIN Cooper is considering tinkering with his Hartlepool United line-up for tonight’s game against Newport County after a gruelling spell of three matches inside six days.
Pools take on the south Wales team at Rodney Parade tonight (kick-off 7.45pm) in Sky Bet League Two and Cooper said this week has been a “real stretch” energy wise.
Cooper admits there is likely to be one or two changes tonight but the Pools gaffer won’t be underestimating the league new boys.
Newport have won five times and lost just once at home all season.
Pools’ starting line-up has been unchanged for the last two matches, against Notts County in the FA Cup and Rotherham United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
And Cooper has praised the fitness levels of his players and again has the benefit of a fit first team squad to choose from.
Matty Dolan was substituted in the 2-1 defeat to Rotherham with a tight groin as a precaution but is expected to feature tonight.
Cooper said: “He got a kick in the first half of Tuesday, which was another one of the decisions that the referee decided to let go.
“Matty was a bit sore but he is okay.
“He didn’t want to come off but was limping and it was a good opportunity to get Antony Sweeney and Bradley Walker on the pitch, who are both champing at the bit.
“Other than that, touch wood, let’s see what happens and see whether we need to re-adjust.
“The lads who were on the bench on Tuesday and those that didn’t make the bench will all figure tonight.
“We will have a look this morning to see how everybody looks and pick a team that has the best chance to get us a result at Newport.
“The lads that played last
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Saturday and then went again on Tuesday night were outstanding, the energy levels were good and we looked fit and strong.
“As I keep saying, other than illness or injury, it is a tough one but I think three games in six days is a real stretch energy wise, so we might have to think about one or two changes.”
Cooper has praised the job being done by Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh and said his team have to be wary of the side enjoying their first season back in the Football League after a 25-year absence.
Thirteenth-placed Pools are just three points outside the play-off positions and could be in the top seven with a win tonight.
But Cooper said the home side, currently 10th, cannot be underestimated.
The 46-year-old said: “What Justin Edinburgh has achieved in his time at Newport has been fantastic – he has got them in the league and they are more than coping.
“We cannot underestimate Newport’s home record, they have been very strong at home this season.”
Edinburgh is likely to be without the injured striker Chris Zebroski, who has a knee injury, while striker Aaron O’Connor has not played this season and faces further groin surgery which will rule him out until the New Year.
Defender Byron Anthony is also out with a broken leg while Lee Minshull, Adedeji Oshilaja, Andrew Hughes, Andy Sandell and Max Porter are also currently sidelined.
Meanwhile, Newport could also be without midfielder David Pipe who was red carded during Newport’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Portsmouth and if County do not appeal then he will begin a three-game suspension against Pools tonight.
Cooper added: “Chris Zebroski has scored some goals for them. He is a good player, has been around the leagues and if that is the case and he is out then that is a plus for us.
“We have to be good again and be strong.
“If we can keep the ball out of our goal then we will create chances, there is no two ways about that.”