SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper has urged four of his “senior” players to become leaders on the pitch in 2014/15.
Cooper wants Yaser Kasim, Wes Foderingham, Massimo Luongo and Nathan Thompson - all of whom are aged 23 or younger - to take on the responsibilities usually reserved for seasoned pros, as Town look to hold their own in League One.
One noticeable characteristic of Swindon’s pre-season performances has been the lack of a vocal leader on the pitch, with Cooper’s youthful crew not inclined to bark orders, while the member of the squad to whom such actions come most naturally - veteran defender Darren Ward - has been told to find a new club.
When questioned by the Advertiser about the issue and whether it is something that needs addressing, Cooper said: “I think leaders are very short in supply in the modern game and invariably you have to pay a lot of money to get them. They’re usually 28 or 29 and you have to pay a lot of money to get them - so they might be a little too far out of our reach.
“Yes, we could probably do with a leader on the pitch but the boys that we’ve got have got to step up to the mark now.
“I would class Yaser as experienced, I’d class Mass as experienced, I’d class Wes as experienced and Nathan, so we’re looking for them to push on to become more vocal.
“Looking back on when I played, I didn’t get it until I was 28 or 29. I think you feel as though, when you get to that age, you’re entitled to say things to other people.”
Town will boast one of the youngest squads in the division when the new season gets under way with the visit of Scunthorpe to the County Ground on August 9 and Cooper has highlighted one of the reasons his squad don’t tend to shout at each other.
He said: “Academy systems don’t breed that kind of player because it’s not cool to shout at your teammates. You have to say ‘no, you made a mistake, do it again properly next time’.
“I don’t think that lends itself to breeding good leaders, so there are not that many about. I think the best way to do it is to lead by example, I think that’s the best thing to do.”
When asked whether the absence of a vocal leader was a concern, the Swindon boss said: “Of course there’s a concern but whether we get one, I don’t know.”