Colin Cooper could tinker with Pools line-up for trip to Torquay United

CHOPPING DOWN WOOD: Steve Howard in action against Fleetwood Town. Picture by FRANK REID
CHOPPING DOWN WOOD: Steve Howard in action against Fleetwood Town. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper looks set to tinker with his attacking options at Torquay United tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

The Pools boss has spent the past week trialling different combinations at Maiden Castle as his side search for their first league goal of the campaign.

Steve Howard and James Poole were paired last weekend against Fleetwood Town but again Pools drew a blank, a 1-0 defeat leaving them second from bottom in League Two.

And Cooper told SportMail: “We started with Steve and Poolie last week but I’m experimenting with other things in training and I’m looking for that ingredient which might just spark something.

“So let’s see what combination we come up with tomorrow.

“We had a lot of good deliveries into good areas last week – it’s about getting people in there.

“That is the focus of our work.

“We’ve got to make people think differently to what they are at present and that is an ongoing process.

“In the meantime we just have to reinforce the positives.

“But it stands out like a sore thumb – Fleetwood had three attempts on goal and won, we had up to nine good chances and lost.”

Cooper maintains that his preferred starting XI is far from finalised and has challenged his players to nail down a place in his side.

However, it appears that the manager’s thinking is becoming clearer at the back of the park.

Michael Duckworth only put the finishing touches to his short-term deal last Thursday but was immediately installed at right-back 48 hours later, Neil Austin reverting to the opposite flank.

And Cooper looks set to name an unchanged back four at Plainmoor, Christian Burgess and Jack Baldwin completing the rearguard.

“We’re still to win so nothing is certain in terms of team selection,” he said.

“But I think the lads at the back have done well.

“Neil can play in a few different positions, he’s a fantastic pro and has shown that.

“With Michael I wanted to get him in the side straight away because he brings what I like in a full-back.

“Neil supported Jack (Compton) on the left and that allowed him to express himself, which I thought he did for the first hour.

“On the other side we had Brad (Walker) tucked in to a central role and that allowed Michael to get up and attack, which he did on numerous occasions.”

Meanwhile, Cooper will again be without skipper Antony Sweeney (calf) for the trip to Devon.

POOLS (probable): Flinders; Duckworth, Burgess, Baldwin, Austin; Walker, Walton, Dolan, Compton; Monkhouse; Howard. Subs: Rafferty, Collins, Poole, James, Holden, Franks, Rodney