Hartlepool Utd reluctant to rotate squad ahead of Notts County FA Cup tie

Antony Sweeney in action against Dagenham & Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID
Antony Sweeney in action against Dagenham & Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper is likely to resist any temptation to give any Hartlepool United players breathers in tomorrow’s FA Cup first round visit of Notts County.

Cooper traditionally keeps a winning side and is reluctant to rest players for the sake of it.

But the fact that Pools have an arduous run of three games inside seven days means changes against Notts County or Rotherham United on Tuesday night in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy cannot be definitely ruled out.

Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett could – and it’s only a could – juggle the squad, especially with the likes of Jack Compton, club captain Antony Sweeney, teen midfielder Brad Walker and young defender Jordan Richards just four quality ‘reserves’ at his disposal.

“We have three games coming up so we need to manage our squad, manage the rest, manage the recovery and hope we can get three high-level performances over the seven days which isn’t going to be easy,” Cooper said.

“Our job is to look at energy levels, look at recovery, look at bumps and bruises.

“I have to say this group of players are looking fit and strong and are hungry to keep things going.

“If I was playing in the team, I wouldn’t want to be rested.

“But with the three games in a short period of time it’s about managing everyone.

“We don’t have a massive squad so we may need to look at it match by match.”

Sweeney caught the eye last Saturday – the club captain impressing as a second-half sub in the 2-1 win over Dagenham & Redbridge.

He followed that up on Wednesday night with two goals in the reserve team’s 9-0 rout of Rotherham United.

“I thought the lads who have come on as subs recently have made a real positive impact,” said the boss.

“They are showing me that they really want to get in the team.

“For me that’s great

“Tony Sweeney scored two for the reserves and was smashing last weekend when he came on against Dagenham.

“He stretched them and got us back on the front foot when Dagenham were really pushing us.

“He is desperate to play.

“We asked if he felt he needed a game on Wednesday and he wanted to play.

“I think they were against a very young Rotherham side and the goals were spread about.

“Standards were high and they scored some fantastic goals.

“If I’ve got a reserve team pushing that hard, then the first-team have to maintain those standards to keep their places.”