Hartlepool Utd boss stuck for visit of Crawley Town

Neale Cooper looks on from the touch line, Picture by FRANK REID
Neale Cooper looks on from the touch line, Picture by FRANK REID

NEALE Cooper will not make wholesale changes for this weekend’s crucial League One visit of Crawley Town – because the manager admits he simply can’t.

Instead, the Scot will be forced to keep faith with the players who let down him and the club during Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient.

And Cooper has challenged those men to show “bottle” when they set about righting the wrongs of their latest no-show against the high-flying Reds, now under the care of former Pools favourite Ritchie Barker.

“They were coming off (on Tuesday) saying ‘that was poor, I’m sorry I made a mistake’,” said Cooper in light of the abject display at Brisbane Road, which kept Pools one from bottom in the table.

“Just don’t do it in the first place – but how many times do I say that?

“They’ve now got to have the bottle to go and put things right.

“Only they can do it.

“You go through the team at the moment and there aren’t many pass marks.

“And there’s not a lot I can change either.

“Everyone who was there on Tuesday is what we’re working with right now.

“There are not a lot of options.

“I put a few boys on to go out and prove something but even they didn’t pull up any trees.”

That being the case, Cooper will be hoping that one of Evan Horwood (heel) or Charlie Wyke (ankle) can prove their fitness ahead of Saturday.

Luke James is almost certain to be missing with his pelvic problem, meaning Cooper will stick with a strike pairing of Steve Howard and Ryan Noble, although he will demand a whole lot more from the latter.

“Ryan, in training on Monday, was banging in goals and I was thinking ‘wow, this looks good’,” said Cooper.

“But then he just didn’t look anywhere near what I think he’s capable of.

“Stevie was getting frustrated.

“There was one in the first half which he’s flicked on into space and Ryan isn’t there, he’s got to get on the end of those things.

“It was the same on Saturday against Doncaster, he just didn’t seem himself.

“I can’t move much in terms of what players I have, I’ve just got to ask them all for an awful lot more.”