Colin Cooper happy with options for Wimbledon v Hartlepool United

THE MAIN MEN: Goal scorers Jack Barmby and Luke James celebrate at the end of the 2-0 win over York City. Picture by FRANK REID
THE MAIN MEN: Goal scorers Jack Barmby and Luke James celebrate at the end of the 2-0 win over York City. Picture by FRANK REID
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COLIN Cooper says his new recruits at Hartlepool United give him plenty of “options” ahead of tonight’s Sky Bet League Two clash away to Wimbledon.

The Pools gaffer boosted his squad during the January transfer window with the permanent signings of Marlon Harewood and loanees Luke Williams, from Middlesbrough, and Manchester United’s Jack Barmby.

The trio all impressed in the 2-0 win over York City at the weekend, a result which pushed Pools up to 14th.

Cooper had his team lined up in a new-look diamond formation, with Williams playing behind Harewood and Luke James and he admits the recent signings have given him plenty to think about when it comes to team selection.

Pools take on Wimbledon at the Cherry Red Records Stadium tonight (7.45pm KO) buoyed by Saturday’s victory, which saw James return to goalscoring form and debutant Barmby score on his league debut.

“Options are good for a manager,” said Cooper.

“We changed the set upslightly against York from the start to incorporate two strikers and Luke Williams in a formation that I have worked at many different levels before, so I was happy to use the formation.

“We had some nice passages of play from time to time but it didn’t quite slot into place comfortably but that is really only after an hour’s work on Friday.

“So, if I choose to use that formation tonight then it is something that you need to work on.

“But I think if you look at the way we finished the game against York, I think Luke Williams is always very comfortable playing in an inside left position and you saw from the way that Jack Barmby introduced himself to league football that he is very comfortable playing in an inside right position.

“It gives us different options and whether we go with that formation, or a 4-1-3-2 or a 4-1-4-1.

“Sometimes formations, I think, make people sound as though they are clever, really it is not.

“You try to defend as a team and attack with people who have bits of quality and we do have that.

“The longer we can stay in games and keep our goal at zero then the more chances we will have of winning more matches.

“I’m just really pleased we got 2014 off and running and I thought we deserved it against York.”

Cooper says 11th placed Dons, managed by Neal Ardley, will be full of confidence themselves following their 2-1 win over Exeter City at the weekend.

The 46-year-old added: “They were one of the better teams we have played up here, I know we won 3-1 on the night but they were well organised and played some decent football.

“It should be a good football game and if we get something positive out of it, then great.”

Cooper has confirmed there are no injury worries to the 18 players that were in the squad for the York game and says they will all be involved again.

The manager will again be without forward James Poole, who is still feeling the affects of a tweaked hamstring after coming off in the game against Rochdale a fortnight ago.

Meanwhile, right-back Jordan Richards serves the second of a three-game suspension following his sending-off at Fleetwood Town, while fellow right-back Michael Duckworth is still sidelined after double hernia surgery.

Cooper will also be without Lewis Hawkins, who had been in and around the first team squad recently but is currently out with a bug.

“We lost young Lewis with a mystery virus so we will have to wait and see what the doctor thinks about that.

“Lewis has been part of the squad over recent weeks but we lost him before the York match.

“I just said if there is a virus of any description, I would rather he not be here, just in case.

“But the 18 that were involved against York will all be involved against Wimbledon.”

Pools: Flinders; Austin, Baldwin, Burgess, Holden; Walker, Walton, Williams, Monkhouse; Harewood, James.

Subs: Rafferty, Collins, Compton, Sweeney, Barmby, Franks, Rodney.