Colin Cooper set to name strongest XI as Hartlepool United face Bradford City in JP Trophy

Colin Cooper on the sidelines during the game against Torquay United. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper on the sidelines during the game against Torquay United. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper insists Hartlepool United will be going all out for victory in tonight’s Johnstone’s Pain Trophy First Round.

Pools welcome League One Bradford City to Victoria Park in a repeat of last season’s tie.

The Bantams were penalty-shootout victors on that occasion following a goalless draw.

The defeat was one of three opening-round cup exits for Pools and it is now three seasons since they have advanced beyond the initial stage of any knockout competition.

The financial implications of such failure means that the stakes are automatically raised for bottom-tier clubs such as Pools.

And that, coupled with Cooper’s desire for a first win in the Pools hotseat, will see him field his strongest XI when Phil Parkinson brings his West Yorkshire outfit to Clarence Road.

“Every game is a big game,” the 46-year-old responded when pressed on the priority of the JP Trophy.

“I’ve never been a person who thinks any cup competition should be treated differently.

“You to try to play the best-possible team to win a game and that’s what we’ll be doing.

“We have to play the strongest team we possibly can.

“We have to give them a right game and try to get through.

“There won’t be much tinkering.”

One thing Cooper will insist upon is a much-improved start from his men.

Pools could have found themselves three goals down inside the opening five minutes of Saturday’s goalless draw at Torquay United.

Cooper was far-from impressed with his side’s application during that opening period and will demand a better response when the whistle sounds this evening.

“Our plan was to try to get at Torquay early on Saturday and get a foothold in the game,” he revealed.

“We never had the chance to do that.

“They had two shots at our goal in the first 45 seconds.

“That’s not how you start a football match.

“It leaves us asking questions afterwards – what was the problem? Is it preparation?

“We were very nearly out of the game before we were ever in it.

“We can’t do that again, we need to start games on the front foot, getting at teams and making it about us.”

Cooper is likely to be without striker Steve Howard after he needed six stitches in a wound beneath his left eye at Torquay.

Antony Sweeney (calf) remains sidelined while Jack Compton, who appeared to suffer a slight calf problem at the weekend, is also a doubt.

POOLS: Flinders; Duckworth, Burgess, Baldwin, Austin; Franks, Dolan, Walker, Monkhouse; Poole, James. Subs: Rafferty, Collins, Walton, Richards, Rodney, Holden, Boagey