SWINDON Town could have unearthed another gem in the shape of Raphael Rossi Branco after the centre-back’s impressive full league debut on Saturday.
Branco, who looked less than convincing on his first start for the club against Plymouth Argyle in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy back in October, earned his place in the starting line-up on the back of a resilient display off the bench at Bradford on December 29 and made the most of his opportunity with a stand-out performance in the clash with Peterborough United.
The Brazilian made several critical blocks and showed superb positional sense as he and captain Darren Ward kept a formidable Posh frontline, which included £1.5million striker Britt Assombalonga, at bay during 90 tough minutes at the County Ground. And he earned a lorry-load of praise from his manager Mark Cooper as a result.
“He is made of granite. You wouldn’t want to bump into him in a dark alleyway and he showed today he can compete defensively, he’s got decent pace and he’s no slouch on the ball,” said the Town boss.
“If you put those three together you should get a decent central defender but he has to do it consistently now.
“He’s shown me today that he deserves to be in the picture and if he can string three or four of them together we’ve got another young asset on his hands.”
Grant Hall was moved to left-back to accommodate Branco and Cooper was pleased with the way the on-loan Tottenham youngster stood up to the test.
“We knew that Peterborough from set-pieces were a threat and they showed that, although we scored from a set-piece,” he said. “We wanted another bigger defender in the team and it worked today.”