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SWINDON TOWN: Cooper takes it easy on his youngsters
MARK Cooper refrained from giving his young squad the hairdryer treatment after last week’s debacle at Shrewsbury, and the Swindon Town boss believes his softly, softly approach will pay dividends when Gillingham visit the County Ground tomorrow.
Town were poor at the Greenhous Meadow last weekend, with sloppy individual errors costing two goals and a lackadaisical approach going forward failing to cause the Shrews any real problems.
Cooper stressed after the game that the entire playing staff realised they were below par on the day and instead of choosing to lay into them in the privacy of the dressing room he has tried to coax them into an instant response when the Gills come to town on Saturday.
“The players know I wasn’t happy with that and more importantly they weren’t happy themselves. We’re looking for a reaction. So far training has been bright so there has to be a positive reaction on Saturday,” he said.
“With the squad that we’ve got and the young players we have (screaming and shouting) could have a negative effect on them. I just try to stay calm and not tend to say loads after a game because I feel you need to watch the game again before you make too many assumptions.
“We played too much football on the edge of our own box, too close together, too many square balls and never really threatened their goal and that’s what we’ve tried to work on this week.
“We’re trying to integrate a new style of play and it’s going to take time but you have to keep believing in them to help them keep that belief. If they do make mistakes and they’re making mistakes trying to do the right thing you can’t be too tough on them.
“You’re reinforcing beliefs but making them aware that they have to be better than they were last Saturday.”
Gillingham picked up their first point of the campaign with a 1-1 draw against Brentford last week - a match Cooper feels the Kent side were unfortunate not to win.
With Adebayo Akinfenwa and Danny Kedwell up front, Swindon will have their work cut out physically but Cooper said the Gills have footballing brains as well as brawn.
“I’ve seen the game from last week and they should have won that,” he said. “If they’d won by three or four it wouldn’t have been unjust and they’ll be smarting from the fact they’ve only got one point from it when they should have got three.
“They’ve got some good players in their team, people will talk about the physicality but the game I saw they played some good football and they are a good team.
“They’ve got two - Danny Kedwell, who’s a big lad and aerially very good - we’ll make the players aware what’s coming and then focus on what we’ll try to do.”
Ryan Mason is expected to return to the Swindon bench, while Alex Pritchard will feature. Tijane Reis has been struggling with a knee injury and is a doubt.
“Ryan Mason we are hopeful may play some part on Saturday, Pritchard is fine,” said Cooper.
“Wes (Foderingham) is fine, he had a knock to his wrist but he’s fine.”
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