NEALE Cooper has revealed that Antony Sweeney is growing frustrated with his own loss of form – but admits he cannot drop the midfielder.
The 29-year-old has struggled so far this season yet, while other senior stars have been axed, he has retained his place in the side.
Cooper will keep faith with Sweeney for tonight’s visit of Bradford City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Second Round (kick off 7.30pm).
But the Pools boss admits he wants to see more from one of his most-trusted troops.
“Sweens is going through a hard time with confidence and he knows that,” said Cooper.
“You know what you get from him in terms of effort – 100 per cent every week, you could never accuse him of not trying.
“He’s just gone back a wee bit.
“I’ve spoken to him and he agrees. He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’ve got to get better’.
“He was upset on Saturday (at Crewe) because he didn’t think he’d done well.
“And he does have to do better on the ball, that quality is just missing at the moment.”
Cooper’s relationship with Sweeney dates back to his first spell at Victoria Park and that, as well as a lack of alternative options, means the academy graduate is safe from the chop, for now at least.
“You can’t take him out because who do you replace him with?” pondered Cooper, who has seen the Stockton-born player go 11 matches without a goal this term.
“You can’t replace his energy levels and his runs.
“Yes, he’s not playing as well as we’d like, but I honestly could not work with a better boy.
“I’ve got the utmost respect for him and I always have, even when he was a young boy.
“But you go through periods like this and you’ve got to fight through it.
“We’ll try to help him do that because he is too influential for this team.”