COLIN Cooper says he won’t be making changes to his Hartlepool United team for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game against Rotherham United just for the sake of it.
The 46-year-old believes those players not in the team face a difficult job getting into the starting line-up after a fine run of form has seen Pools win seven out of eight matches in all competitions.
Tonight, League Two Pools take on League One Rotherham United at Victoria Park (KO 7pm) in the northern area quarter final of the JPT.
Cooper has a fully fit first-team squad to choose from and he said he will only make changes if he thinks players are looking fatigued or jaded.
The Trimdon-born gaffer said the performances of those currently wearing the shirt, who helped secure a 3-2 FA Cup First Round win over Notts County on Saturday, means they deserve to keep hold of it.
Cooper: “We will galvanise and assess to see if everybody is fit and free to play.
“If everyone is fit and free to play then I think the players that are not in the team have a difficult job to get in.
“As I keep saying, if they show me the levels of application, quality and team ethic that I think myself and Craig are asking for then we have to give them the opportunity to play in the team.
“If I think they look fatigued, a bit jaded or dipping a wee bit then me and Craig have to use our eyes and say: ‘Right what can we do to freshen things up if we feel we need to?’.”
After tonight’s match Pools travel to Newport County on Friday night for a League Two fixture.
Cooper added: “It will be a tough week and we might have to, and I stress might, change it but that will depend on the players that played on Saturday and how they feel.
“We just need to try and get as many people feeling fresh and hungry to play again tonight.”
Cooper is able to call on on-loan Middlesbrough defender Christian Burgess who has served his one-game ban for collecting five yellow cards but says veteran defender Sam Collins “did himself no harm” in the win over Notts County.
The October manager of the months who believes the players should be feeling energised after their recent run of form, said: “Sam coming in was the only change we actually needed to make.
“We could have done one or two others but all I would say is those players who put their bodies on the line against Dagenham and Redbridge the week before got us the three points and I think, apart from injury and illness, deserved another opportunity.”
Millers Manager Steve Evans will be without Iceland international Kari Arnason who misses out through suspension while captain Craig Morgan is available for selection after his suspension.
The rules of the competition state clubs must select a minimum of six of the 11 players who played in the game previous to the tie or in the game immediately afterwards – or six of the top eleven appearance-makers for the season so far.