SWINDON TOWN: Boss hails squad depth

Swindon Advertiser: Mark Cooper Mark Cooper

WITH the Christmas period fast approaching, Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper feels his squad has the strength in depth to cope with a hectic festive schedule.

Tonight’s Johnstone Paint Trophy southern section area semi-final clash with Stevenage is the first of seven games in 25 days for the Robins, with trips to Sheffield United, Brentford, Bradford and this evening’s guests intermingled amongst home clashes with Coventry and Crawley.

A month or so ago Cooper might have been faced with a selection dilemma due to the number of injuries at the club, but the casualty list has decreased and the Town boss is now confident he can chop and change without causing too much disruption to his team’s form.

“We’ve got five games in 20 days so it’s important we try to play players as fresh as they can be so we’re not killing anyone,” he said.

“Ryan Mason is back fit and we’ve got an abundance in midfield that we maybe can rotate and I don’t think we can weaken the team too much.

“We’ve got to try to get the right team selection and keep everyone fresh with the amount of games we’ve got.

“It may be that we change two or three people for tomorrow and two or three people for Sheffield United away.

“For me that’s not rotation. It’s rotation when you change seven or eight players but for us it’s risk assessment and making sure the ones we think need to have a rest have a rest.

“People like Kasim or Nathan Thompson, who’s come back from three weeks out and played three straight games - we don’t want them to break down. With the help of the sports scientists and the physio we assess which ones are maybe at risk of breaking down if they keep playing.”

Nathan Byrne remains suspended for the visit of Stevenage.

The full-back will complete a two-match ban picked up following his red card at Crawley 11 days ago.

Alex Smith, Tijane Reis and Troy Archibald-Henville are all long-term casualties, but there are no new injury concerns for Cooper.

After giving his side plenty of time off during their 12-day break from competitive action, the Robins boss is expecting his side to be firing on all cylinders this evening.

“It helps because there was no game and we managed to give them a couple of days off,” he said. “They’ve come in and look very fresh and ready for action.”

l In tonight’s non-league action, Chippenham are away to Totton in the Southern League Premier Division.

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