CONFIDENT Colin Cooper believes his Hartlepool United side are capable of coming away from table toppers Chesterfield on Boxing Day with all three points.
Pools, currently 14th in Sky Bet League Two, take on the Spireites on the back of three consecutive draws in the league but 46-year-old Cooper is adamant his players can given anyone a game.
Chesterfield, who include former Pools legend Ritchie Humphreys among their ranks, top the table at Christmas after an impressive campaign.
Trimdon-born Cooper said: “I know Chesterfield are top but I believe we can give them a game provided we are ready and on the front foot and don’t allow Chesterfield to gain the momentum.
“If we can get the momentum and get our noses in front we can give anyone a game.
“We just need to make sure that we get on the front foot a bit more than we did in the first half against Burton Albion.
“Momentum is a massive thing in football and if you can get the pendulum swinging in your direction then you will be alright.
“But if we have to chase games as we have done recently then it is asking an awful lot.”
Pools’ Maiden Castle training camp at Durham is closed Christmas Day so Cooper has persuaded head groundsman Dave Brown to let the first-team train on the pitch at Victoria Park tomorrow.
Cooper said: “We will be in today and Christmas Day for the game Boxing Day.
“I’d said to the players to have a chat amongst themselves and see whether they wanted to come in early and get home or stay home and then come in mid-morning and get home for their lunch and the Queen’s speech.
“It was up to them as long as we get the work done we need to, so we will be training late morning.”
As a former player, and later coach, Cooper has only had two Christmas Days off in the past 25 years but he said at this time of year footballers need to make sacrifices.
Cooper, a former Middlesbrough and England defender, added: “In 25 years in football I have had two Christmases off and because I was in my 40s I quite enjoyed them.
“But as a player the normality is that it is a work time and while everybody else is geared up for the festivities, you have got to really switch your discipline side on and realise what is right regarding rest, recovery and food intake.
“And the one thing I’d say about this group of players is they are professional and disciplined and I have no doubts on that score.
“The only reason I bring people in on Christmas Day is because my theory is if we get to Chesterfield and I have a personal ‘what if’
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scenario, then I wouldn’t be happy with myself.
“It is important on the day before a game, whether it is a Christmas Day or not, that we are prepared as best we possibly can be.”
Pools are once again without utility man Jordan Richards, who is recovering from a double hernia operation, but aside from that Colin Cooper has a fully fit first team squad to pick from.
Pools (probable): Flinders, Duckworth, Austin, Burgess, Baldwin, Walton, Dolan, Compton, Monkhouse, Franks, James.
Subs (from): Rafferty, Holden, Collins, Sweeney, Walker, Rodney, Poole.
Chesterfield (probable): Lee, Talbot, Humphreys, Togwell, Evatt, Hird, Darikwa, Banks, Doyle, Richards, McFadzean.