Cooper wary of Sky Blues' goal threat

Swindon Advertiser: Mark Cooper Mark Cooper

MARK Cooper has highlighted the potent threat of Coventry City’s strike partnership of Leon Clarke and Callum Wilson ahead of the Sky Blues’ trip to Swindon Town this weekend.

Town boss Cooper lauded Clarke’s hold-up play and branded Wilson “the quickest boy I’ve ever seen in football” during his pre-match press conference on Thursday, making it clear that his defenders have been made fully aware that any mistake will be punished tomorrow.

Clarke, who spent an ill-fated two months at the County Ground in 2011, has netted 14 goals in 22 appearances this term while 21-year-old Wilson has 14 from 24.

Their link-up play has helped Coventry score three or more goals in a game on nine occasions this term and Cooper is readying himself for another onslaught.

“Coventry have got two strikers who have both got 14 goals each and that’s a lot of goals, so we have to be careful defensively but make sure we offer a threat at the other end.

“Coventry have conceded a lot of goals as well so we have to ask questions of their defence and try to be as solid as we can at the back.

“They’re a counter-attacking team, they like to let you have the ball and hit you on the break. They’ve got tremendous pace up front and wide.

“They like you to give the ball away deep so we have to be careful. We’ve got full respect to Leon Clarke, Callum Wilson, Chris Maguire, Chris Dagnall, Moussa, Carl Baker. We’ve got respect for the players they’ve got that can score goals, but we’ve got one or two who can do that as well.

“Full credit to the way they play, it’s very refreshing and we’re similar, but you have to balance it with making sure you’ve always got a chance of getting a result.

“I went to watch him (Clarke) play the other night and he scored two goals again. He holds the ball up very well for the other boy Wilson, who’s probably the quickest boy I’ve ever seen in football. I thought Keith Curle was quick but that boy can run.

“We have to be fully aware of the threats they bring - both of them - they both can score goals, they’re both mobile.

“We’ve got one, haven’t we, but we’re trying to get him to behave like a normal human being and get the best out of him.”

Cooper’s first match as part of the Town coaching set-up was a 2-1 victory at Coventry in March, but the Robins manager does not think he can take any of the lessons learned that day into this weekend’s meeting of the sides.

“I think it’s a totally different animal now, if I’m honest,” he said. “They’re set up totally differently. They’re a counter-attacking team, they have the threat of amazing pace to get in behind you.

“We’ll have to be so switched on defensively that we don’t give them anything to go on at all.

“We can do it but we have to keep the ball to be able to get the team up the pitch. It helps if you’ve got a big target man to keep the ball up the pitch. That helped us in a spell when we had a target man playing up there.

“We have to find a way.”

Town will continue to be without Troy Archibald-Henville, Tijane Reis and Alex Smith for the clash but Cooper reported no new injury problems ahead of the game.

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