COLIN Cooper admits he is still searching for the winning combination in the final third – but the Hartlepool United boss could now have scope to increase his firepower.
With the undisclosed five-figure sale of defender Peter Hartley to League One Stevenage confirmed yesterday, the Victoria Park purse strings should be loosened.
Cooper told SportMail last week that he was reliant on the generosity of other clubs when it came to free loan deals, Pools having hit their financial ceiling in terms of wage budget.
But the exit of Hartley will free funds and the Pools chief is likely to focus his attention on attacking reinforcement.
“I have to say the chairman and chief executive have really said that they’d like to help us,” Cooper told SportMail.
“Is there a way we can do bits and pieces?
“Can we manipulate ways to get players in?
“There are still more than two weeks left of the window and if we didn’t explore every avenue then that would be naive.”
He went on: “After what happened on Saturday at Rochdale, creating all those chances but not scoring, we need to find the right combination to put those chances away.
“The strikers who are available have to make it their job to be in that team.
“If so, then when the chances come along they have to stick them in the back of the net, that’s how you stay in the team.”
It is not just in attack where Cooper is striving to unearth his preferred pairings.
The opening-day defeat at Rochdale and the League Cup exit at Nottingham Forest saw different combinations used in both central defence and the middle of midfield.
“We’re all learning,” said Cooper as preparations continued for Saturday’s League Two visit of Southend United. “We’ve had a six-week pre-season and two games now.
“I’ve analysed the games in detail over and over.
“We’re still trying to find the right combinations all over the field.
“We have ideas of what we’d like and certain styles of play.
“Hopefully we can fit players into that and move forward quickly, but that’s a work in progress.”