Whittingham mulling over Cooper return

Shaun Cooper could yet be playing for Pompey next season  Picture: Joe Pepler

Shaun Cooper could yet be playing for Pompey next season Picture: Joe Pepler

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Guy Whittingham admits he is contemplating a return for Shaun Cooper as he puts the finishing touches to his Pompey squad.

The versatile player’s hopes of a permanent Fratton Park move appeared to have long since faded, with the Blues boss bringing in 13 recruits this summer.

Cooper himself confessed in The News recently he believed he had missed out following a misunderstanding with Whittingham over his desire to remain at the club.

That prompted the 29-year-old to later put the record straight with Pompey’s manager at a golf day.

Whittingham has accepted the former Bournemouth man’s explanation.

And he has revealed he plans to hold talks with Cooper’s representative over the possibility of reaching a deal with the free agent.

Whittingham said: ‘It was after a morning training session and Shaun was in the changing room.

‘I just said to him “what are your thoughts for next year?” and he said “I think I am going to keep my options open”.

‘I took it as he wasn’t sure and would like to look somewhere else.

‘Then I saw him a couple of days later at a charity golf day and he said “listen, it wasn’t quite like that, it wasn’t a proper meeting we had and I was just saying that is where I am at the moment. I would like to come back”.

‘So it is still there. There is still something to consider.

‘I don’t want to stand in the guy’s way if there is something else for him, that’s for sure, because it is a difficult time for players out of contract.

‘But I think Shaun could be valuable to the squad because he is versatile. He is an honest player and an honest guy.

‘It is one of those that might end up happening.

‘Now I’m back from holiday I will get in contact with his agent and see where we are and where he is.

‘To say he has missed the boat is wrong. He wasn’t one of the early ones we got hold of but it might still happen.’

Having initially come through the ranks a decade earlier, Cooper returned to Fratton Park for a second spell last season while on loan from Crawley, making 14 appearances and scoring twice.

His versatility saw him operate in the centre of midfield, at right-back and, in the final few games, on the left-hand side of midfield.

It is an adaptability Whittingham values highly.

He added: ‘When you have a small squad, Shaun is a valuable player for us.

‘I think that proved the case towards the end of last season when he popped up with a couple of goals.

‘Wherever I asked him to play I think he gave decent-enough performances.

‘He’s one of those you don’t really notice in the background but you notice as a manager and coach because you can see his hard work.

‘He didn’t hit the limelight as other players did but he was still important.’

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