‘Hartlepool Utd are a match for any team in League Two’

Colin Cooper gives instructions from the bench during the game against Bradford City. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper gives instructions from the bench during the game against Bradford City. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper believes his Hartlepool United side are a match for anyone in Sky Bet League Two.

And he has called on them to maintain the high standards they have recently set themselves.

Pools take on eighth-placed Dagenham & Redbridge at Victoria Park this afternoon (3pm kick-off) and Cooper is looking to make it a hat-trick of consecutive home wins.

Back-to-back victories over Plymouth Argyle and AFC Wimbledon have boosted confidence and morale on the home terraces and Cooper is looking for another strong performance.

The five-game winning run may have come to an end last weekend with the 1-0 defeat away to Scunthorpe United but the former Middlesbrough defender is confident his players will bounce straight back.

Cooper said: “The players have set their own standards in October and I’ve been more than happy with the effort and work rate.

“Maybe the quality finishing wasn’t there last week, so now we focus on what has given us an opportunity to go on a run – and I reiterate the effort, work rate and application. That gives talent the chance to flourish.

“Good players keep high standards a lot of the time. Not so good players will be happy with a few weeks on, a few off.

“I want high standards set and then those standards met every week.

“We are mid-table right now and this run has put us in the group.

“I wasn’t disappointed with performances, but four league wins have given us the points to catch up and if standards are maintained, then we reach high.

“Let’s try and get better every day, every week. “Do that and you get points, we can compete with anyone in this league.”

The 46-year-old said no team has turned over Pools this season but warned his players to be on their guard.

Cooper added: “I will continue to pat them on the back for the way things are going at the moment because they are doing the things I want them to do.

“Keeping the ball out of your goal is the cornerstone of every team – I don’t care who they are.

“If you are able to do that it does give you a chance to go to the other end to get a goal whether that be by a counter-attack, free-flowing football or a brilliant piece of brilliant individualism, it doesn’t matter

“Keeping the ball out of your net is the most important thing ... but I am a defender.”

Cooper has a fully fit squad with the exception of winger Jack Compton, who serves the final match of his three-game ban.