Cooper out to show his worth

Shaun Cooper. Picture: Joe Pepler
Shaun Cooper. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett, right, with his team during Saturday's friendly with Bournemouth Picture: Shaun Boggust

Knight: Pompey’s starting XI is decided - or has it?

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Shaun Cooper is optimistic he can prove to be a vital part of the Richie Barker era – despite finding himself surplus to requirements during their previous association.

The versatile 30-year-old started the new Blues boss’ first game in charge in central midfield and has impressed in recent weeks as he has found match sharpness and been given a run in the 
side.

Some might have predicted a swift exit for Cooper – whose short-term contract is up on January 4 – after Barker allowed him to leave Crawley to join Pompey a year ago.

But the former Bournemouth man insists there are no hard feelings that his opportunities were limited at Crawley as he was hampered by injury.

And he is determined to prove himself all over again.

Cooper said: ‘I played at centre-back and in central midfield under him at Crawley and he knows what I can do.

‘I didn’t play that often because I was out for a couple of months with injury and he probably didn’t see the best of me. It was pretty frustrating.

‘Then when I came back, the lads had been doing well and it was tough to get back into the side.

‘But there is certainly no bad feeling between us.

‘Last season, I knew it was coming that I wasn’t going to be offered a new contract at Crawley.

‘The lads who were playing instead of me were good players who did really well.

‘So there are no hard feelings as far as I’m concerned and I’m grateful he allowed me to come to Portsmouth.

‘We’re all trying to impress the new manager and show that we should be part of his plans going forward.

‘I’m no different to anyone else in that respect.

‘But I have got my own standards, I try to reach those every day and I always want to improve myself as a footballer.

‘If I do that right, the rest takes care of itself.’

Tomorrow’s trip to Bristol Rovers should shed some more light on Barker’s methods to Blues fans after another intensive week on the training ground.

Last week’s disappointing home loss to Newport failed to deliver the expected lift to the side.

But Cooper felt the defensive lapses were to blame again.

He said: ‘I think there was a lift. We trained really well all week and there were positives out there. We did a few good things but it was the same old story and we conceded bad goals.’

And Cooper expects Barker’s principles to start to become more obvious as he settles into the job.

He said: ‘The manager will bring very positive stuff. He has certain principles that he will instil in us.

‘They are just basic principles that then become habits if we work on them every day.

‘It is not doing the basics properly that is preventing us from moving forward at the moment.

‘But he tells you things pretty straight and demands the highest standards from everyone.

‘He wants total professionalism and things to be done in the right way.’