Neale Cooper insists the Vic will be like the tropics

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NEALE Cooper is confident his “hardy bunch” will handle tomorrow’s Arctic conditions – but for the Hartlepool United manager it will be like an afternoon in the tropics!

The home game with Bournemouth in League One is set to beat the weather, although rain, sleet and wind could all be swirling around Victoria Park by the time kick-off arrives.

But for Cooper, a native of Aberdeen and former manager of Peterhead, this sort of inhospitable climate is nothing new.

“When you’ve managed at Peterhead it’s even colder, don’t worry about that – it makes Victoria Park look tropical!” laughed the Scot.

“But we’ve always been used to the conditions here and the boys will handle it. We’ve got no softies here. None of them will be crying if it’s raining or snowing!

“They’re a hardy bunch of boys and they’re desperate to get back playing after last weekend’s game was called off.”

It was Pools’ trip to Bury which was postponed last Saturday and the snow and sub-zero temperatures which have struck the UK have disrupted preparations.

As Cooper explained: “We’ve had to spend a few days training indoors or outdoors on the 3G surface, which is better but not ideal.

“Thankfully, we’re okay injury-wise and the only ones still missing are James Poole and Colin Larkin, who is a long-term injury.

“Other than that it’s been a chance for Colin Nish to get some more training into him and Peter Hartley’s shoulder problem is now a lot better.”

The conditions will not affect Cooper’s team selection, and the likelihood is he’ll go with same side which thumped Carlisle United 4-0 a fortnight ago.

That means teenager Luke James, scorer of two against Carlisle, will again be flanked by Andy Monkhouse and James Brown in attack with Paul Murray, Gary Liddle and Tony Sweeney making up a three-man midfield.

Pools’ rearguard has not conceded at the Vic since January 2 and Scott Flinders will again be protected by Neil Austin, Peter Hartley, skipper Sam Collins and Evan Horwood.