COLIN Cooper will today assess Hartlepool United’s walking wounded as he looks to follow up a stunning league win with an equally stunning cup triumph.
Pools head to Sheffield United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tomorrow night with confidence sky high after Saturday’s 4-1 romp at Mansfield Town.
But belief is not the only thing rising at Victoria Park – so are injuries, niggles and suspensions.
Jack Baldwin, probably the player of the season so far, picked up his fifth booking at Field Mill and must sit out the JPT second round tie at Bramall Lane.
Midfielder Matty Dolan is a major doubt with a groin injury which forced him out of the win at Mansfield.
And the man who replaced him against the Stags, Sam Collins, could be struggling after jarring his knee.
The veteran defender, superb at the heart of the defence, played through the pain barrier and may not be risked at Bramall Lane.
Cooper and assistant boss Craig Hignett will take a look at his squad today.
“Matty is a question mark,” Cooper explained.
“It’s touch and go, it’s very difficult if you have tweaked your groin on Friday, you can’t play Saturday to then go and play tomorrow.
“We’ll have to have a look at it.
“But it presents opportunities for other people.
“There are some bodies hurting so we need to see how everyone is feeling.
“Me and Craig will have a chat today and then prepare for the tie.”
Tomorrow’s match would appear to give the opportunity to rest some tired and aching legs and give game-time to players who have been in the squad but have not featured a great deal, such as skipper Antony Sweeney, Nialle Rodney, Darren Holden and Jordan Richards.
But Cooper rebuffed any such notions.
The Pools boss insists he will pick his strongest possible side and those who are not selected need to earn their shirt.
“I think rotation is dangerous,” Cooper told SportMail.
“We’re not Arsenal, Chelsea or Manchester United.
“I think we need to put our best team out.
“We have a lot of bumps and bruises and opportunities will come.
“Jordan Richards came on on Saturday for the last 10 minutes or so and gave a terrific cameo.
“That’s what I want from players.
“I’ll say to the lads ‘if you want me to put you in the team show me what you can do’.
“I’m not just going to put people in because they think they should be in the side.
“Jordan was terrific in training and he deserved to be on the bench and deserved his run out.
“I’ll pick the best team I can, Sheffield United are in League One.
“If I thought I can go to Sheffield United and rotate the team then that’s surely being over-confident.
“I’m focusing on going to Bramall Lane and putting on a good show for Hartlepool.
“Whatever that team turns out to be I’ll be expecting the same level of commitment.”