Sheffield United: Cooper is ready for his ‘biggest’ test yet

Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper
Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper

Mark Cooper, the Swindon Town manager, admits he is suffering from insomnia after describing tonight’s play-off semi-final first-leg against Sheffield United as the toughest test of his career.

The visitors, who finished one place and eight points above Nigel Clough’s side in the League One table, arrive at Bramall Lane hoping to seize control of a tie which concludes in Wiltshire on Monday evening.

Cooper said: “Now, for me, it is and probably the biggest test of my managerial career, in terms of trying to get to a play-off final. We know it’s going to be tough but we’ll be ready.

“We’re trying to be as organised and as prepared as we can. We concentrate on ourselves and do what we do well, and give the players the information they need on the opposition. We’re really, really focusing on what we do well.”

“It’s on the day and whoever performs the best on the day will go through, experience or no experience.”

“I think Yeovil didn’t have loads of experience when they went up through the play-offs a couple of years ago. All I know is if we perform as well as we can then we’ve got a great opportunity.”

Swindon could be without defender Harry Toffolo for trip to South Yorkshire while United have doubts over Matt Done, Terry Kennedy, Chris Basham and Paul Coutts. Jamal Campbell-Ryce has resumed training following an injury-hit spell at Notts County on loan.

“Once all the build-up is done, you have to play the game,” Cooper added. “ I’ll be stressing to the players to concentrate on the game.

“Just go and play. It’s 11 versus 11, the pitch is green, the ball is round and the only difference is there’s going to be 30,000 people there.

“You have to get that out of your mind and concentrate on the game.

“I’m sure it’s going to be nerve-racking and anxious but it’s what it is. We’d rather be here than sat on a beach now, eating our ice creams. We’re looking forward to it.

“I’m excited. I’m really looking forward to it. To go to Bramall Lane – one of the old-fashioned stadiums, a fantastic atmosphere and fantastic arena – is something to look forward to. May the best team win.

“I’m looking forward to it, I’m nervous, waking up in the middle of the night, worrying ‘have we done enough?’”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

READ MORE: Click here for all the latest news from Bramall Lane