THE F-WORD! – Don’t mention fatigue to Hartlepool Utd boss ahead of Scunthorpe Utd trip

Manager Colin Cooper gives encouragement during the game against Plymouth Argyle. Picture by FRANK REID
Manager Colin Cooper gives encouragement during the game against Plymouth Argyle. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper does not like hearing the F-word being bandied about Victoria Park or Maiden Castle.

But the Hartlepool United boss acknowledges fatigue is a factor he must manage as his team look to continue their brilliant SkyBet League Two run at Scunthorpe United tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

Red-hot Pools have raced through October in breathtaking fashion - four League Two wins and a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy upset at Sheffield United.

That sensational run has lifted them from the relegation zone to 14th and there is the possibility of a place in the top half should they win again at Glanford Park.

The month has been a huge one, both physically and mentally for Pools with five games in just 18 days.

Firstly, they travelled 1,160 miles for wins at Mansfield, Sheffield United and Exeter, albeit all beauties.

Then back on home soil they recorded back-to-back victories over Plymouth and Wimbledon, both contrasting affairs.

Ten-man Pools were forced to go into the trenches to fight off the Pilgrims 1-0 and, while not at their most fluent, they still found the net three times to beat the Dons on Tuesday night.

While tomorrow’s visit to Glanford Park is hardly a trek to Timbuktu it could be a trip too far after the rigours of recent weeks.

Cooper admits fatigue could be an enemy of Pools and has already taken steps to counter that but added that the players are still

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raring to go.

“Unless they come to us and say ‘I’m physically shattered’ I think the players will want to play,” Cooper told SportMail.

“If I was playing in this team at the moment I would not want a rest.

“I’d want to keep rolling.

“My body might decide, at some point, that I need a rest,

“But we’ll assess the lads before tomorrow’s game and hopefully we’ll have a clean bill of health.

“Hopefully, we can pick the team we feel has the best chance of getting us a result down there.

“Fatigue could be a factor.

“We do ask the boys to be honest. We don’t have access to heart-rate or GPS monitors that clubs in the top echelons do.

“When I was at Middlesbrough I was able to get real data, day-in, day-out.

“The lads here are pushing hard so for us, me and Craig [Hignett] in particular, we have to decide how we recover between games.

“While it has been very good, we have had a tough run of games so we must be careful we don’t blow lads out.

“We’ve been very lucky, touch wood, with injuries, we’ve not had many muscle problems.

“But we have to be guarded because when people are fatigued that’s when these things happen.

“Our job is to make sure we give them enough recovery time between the matches in order for them to be able to go hard and perform at a high level on the Saturday or a Tuesday night

“We don’t have access to data, but we have eyes and we see things and we must make sure we give them every chance to recover.

“We can’t over-cook them, nor under-cook them, it’s a fine balancing act.”

Pools went through their regular Friday pre-match routines today and Cooper and assistant Hignett will sit down with physio Ian Gallagher to check on any niggles.

The Pools back four and Simon Walton have played pretty much every minute of every game, though Cooper will be reluctant to break up that unit or leave out the influential Walton.

But he has the likes of Jordan Richards, Brad Walker and skipper Antony Sweeney fit and champing at the bit if he sees the need to freshen up his side.

The boss is likely to send out the same XI which started Tuesday night’s win, which means Jon Franks continuing for the suspended Jack Compton.

Scunthorpe chief Brian Laws is also likely to say “same again” to the team which won 1-0 at high-fliers Fleetwood Town on Tuesday night.

Scunthorpe (probable): Slocombe, Byrne, Dawson, Syers, Mirfin, Canavan, Sparrow, McAllister, Winnall, Spener, Hawkridge.

Subs: Waterfall, Burton, Ribeiro, Esajas, Severn, Adelakun, Wootton

Pools (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Auston, Franks, Walton, Dolan, Monkhouse, Poole, James. Subs (from): Rafferty, Richards, Holden, Collins, Sweeney, Walker, Rodney, Howard