Free agent rues missed Pompey chance

Shaun Cooper feels he has missed his chance on returning to Pompey
Shaun Cooper feels he has missed his chance on returning to Pompey
Gino van Kessel scores for Oxford United in their 3-0 win over Pompey in August. Picture: Joe Pepler

Oxford won’t appeal for Pompey postponement despite international call-ups

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Shaun Cooper believes a misunderstanding with Guy Whittingham has cost him his hopes of returning to Pompey.

The 29-year-old was keen to sign but thinks a conversation with the Blues boss towards the end of last season saw Pompey turn their attentions elsewhere.

While the Isle of Wight-born player was keen to get to the end of the campaign to assess his options, he believes Whittingham mistook that as a lack of interest in signing.

And with Pompey wasting little time in building a squad, Cooper, who can operate in defence and midfield, thinks he has now missed the boat.

He explained: ‘There seems to have been a bit of a misunderstanding between Guy and myself last season.

‘He asked me if I was interested in coming back. I just told Guy that I was interested and I wanted to weigh up my options at the end of the season. I think he took that meaning I didn’t want to come back.

‘That wasn’t the case but he has gone ahead and signed a few players now so it doesn’t look like I’m coming back.

‘I’ve heard the door is not completely shut but it’s not exactly open, either! Maybe it’s slightly ajar.

‘It was a simple misunderstanding, I guess.’

Cooper has since made his feelings clear to Whittingham he would be keen to return, but the ex-Bournemouth man believes the Blues boss has now ended his interest.

Cooper said: ‘I bumped into Guy at a golf day and had a brief chat with him to set the record straight. He was fine about it but it might be too late with the players he has already signed.’

While some Pompey fans will believe Cooper has only himself to blame that he didn’t convince the manager he was desperate to come back, it’s understandable a free agent would rather wait for an official contract offer before making any decision.

Cooper improved game by game last term as his fitness and sharpness returned, making 14 appearances and scoring two goals.

He also provides useful cover in a variety of positions.

Cooper said: ‘I don’t have any hard feelings and thank Guy for taking me on loan.

‘I’ve spoken to plenty of people and have a couple of offers but I don’t want to go into which clubs they are.

‘There are a few options about but I want to make sure I pick the right one.

‘I thought Portsmouth was an option for me and one I would have been very happy to take.

‘And I think I could do a job for Portsmouth in League Two – I’m confident of that.

‘In the two seasons I played in League Two for Bournemouth, we survived relegation after starting the season on minus-17 points and we got promoted the next year, so I know that level well.’

He added: ‘You never know. In football, you would be silly to close any door or burn any bridges. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for Pompey, let’s put it that way.’