FOR the first time during his tenure at Swindon Town, manager Mark Cooper has an abundance of defensive options at his disposal – to the point at which he’s got his work cut out deciding on which three to pick.
Following the arrival of Jack Stephens on Deadline Day, Town now boast five central defenders amongst their ranks, with Nathan Thompson, Jordan Turnbull, Raphael Branco and Josh Lelan all competing for a starting spot.
Having started pre-season with just Thompson and Branco, Cooper can take great pleasure from new-found selection headache ahead of the trip to Bradford City this afternoon.
He told Link Sport: “You can’t moan about not having enough players and then, when you get them, say ‘I’ve got a problem’. We have to look at each game individually and decide which players fit that game, and if we need to change it we change it.
“It’s not always a case of playing a big one against a big one just for the sake of it. We might think whoever our biggest one is can’t deal with (James) Hanson anyway because he’s that good aerially, so we might pick a smaller one.”
When Town last visited Valley Parade in December, Branco came off the bench to produce a superb performance, keeping Hanson under wraps.
Asked whether that individual display would sway Cooper into selecting him today, the Swindon boss said: “Raffa we spoke about earlier in the week; about how good he was when he came on and marked James Hanson. We’re hoping if he plays he can replicate that. We’re going to concentrate on us because we’re a good footballing team and I’m sure Bradford will be looking at our strengths and thinking ‘how do we deal with them?’
“We’ll make the players aware of how to deal with Bradford’s threat – which is not just James Hanson, they have other threats as well – but we concentrate mainly on the way we play.”