PREPARATION is the key to success for Hartlepool United manager Colin Cooper and he believes the club is giving his players the best chance of succeeding.
Pools have faced a gruelling schedule and tonight’s League Two fixture away to Newport County is their third game in the space of six days.
Last Saturday saw Cooper’s League Two team beat Notts County 3-2 in the FA Cup while on Tuesday night they were beaten 2-1 by Rotherham in the Northern Area quarter-final of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Tonight, they take on Newport County in the league at Rodney Parade and, despite the short periods between matches, preparation has not been compromised.
The players spent Wednesday resting their sore limbs in a swimming pool before travelling the 280-mile trip to Newport yesterday.
Pools stayed over in Newport last night and this morning, Cooper had managed to secure an hour’s training on Chepstow Town’s pitch.
The former Middlesbrough and England defender said the players were due to be assessed this morning by himself and assistant Craig Hignett.
Cooper, 46, said: “For us to go Tuesday-Friday, is going to be tough and we have to travel the length of the country again.
“Wednesday we had a recovery session, courtesy of Dyke House School, in their swimming pool.
“We travelled to Newport yesterday and Chepstow Town have very kindly let us use their pitch Friday morning to do an hours light session with a bit of shadow play.
“We are trying our best to tick all the boxes in such a short space of time.”
The 46-year-old gaffer has played at Newport once before, back in 1988 when Middlesbrough won 1-0 courtesy of a late winner from close friend and former Boro manager Tony Mowbray.
Trimdon-born Cooper – who said he would be delighted with the same result tonight – recalled: “It was sleeting and Tony Mowbray scored in the 89th minute.
“I’d love that result again.
“I’ve been since, to the Ryder Cup and that was fantastic as well.”