Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper has spoken for the first time this summer to update supporters on pre-season progress.
Yesterday his side took on Newport County in a behind-closed-doors friendly – their second against the same opposition in a week – running out 5-0 winners at Spytty Park.
They were supposed to take on Swindon Town at the County Ground on Saturday but the match was called off by the home side due to “ongoing logistical and operational issues at the League Two club”.
Cooper was heavily linked with the Crystal Palace and Fulham jobs over the course of the off season, and even had an interview with the Eagles.
The fact the head coach hadn’t spoken publicly since the play-off final defeat to Brentford at Wembley had concerned a section of the support base.
With only a year left on his Liberty Stadium contract, his long-term future is still far from set in stone, but his words will ease fears in some quarters at least.
After a week spent at Pennyhill Park in Surrey, it has been full steam ahead back in Wales for the past seven days, with a match against Plymouth on Tuesday night next up for Cooper’s men.
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“This week has been a great exercise for the players,” said Cooper. “It’s the first time we’ve played in pre-season and at this stage it is all about minutes and fitness and conditioning the players, as well technical and tactical work.
“While it’s good to build fitness, the lads have applied themselves really well – not just this week but ever since they returned at the start of pre-season.
“They all came back in excellent condition. To have the season we did last year in terms of the schedule and the short turnaround from the end of the previous campaign, means the players deserve great credit for how they have looked after themselves over the summer.
“The pre-season fitness tests were extremely positive and from that point it is about getting the players back onto the grass and getting minutes in friendly games.
“Unfortunately, the game we had scheduled against Swindon had to be cancelled, but we’ve had two outings against Newport which have been a great exercise.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Mike Flynn and I’d like to thank them for helping to arrange the second game against them at such short notice.
“We had two 60-minute games behind closed doors in midweek which allowed us to get all the lads some minutes under their belts and while Newport changed squads for our second game this afternoon it still proved a good test for us.”
A brace from striker Liam Cullen and goals from Ben Margetson, Yan Dhanda and Joel Latibeaudiere gave Swansea the win in Newport, which followed on from 60-minute games against the Exiles in midweek.
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The week in the Home Counties was a beneficial one, added Cooper, with youngsters Harry Jones, Margetson, Scott Butler, Lincoln Mcfayden, Dan Williams, Adrian Akande and Cameron Congreve all getting the chance to impress.
“That was a really good week for us,” said Cooper. “The facilities there were first class and it’s easy to see why the England rugby squad have based themselves there for so long and why Premier League clubs have also been spending time there recently.
“It allowed the players to do a lot of work on the pitch while also allowing for a second session most days of strength and conditioning work.
“I must say that the young players who have been with us in pre-season have all applied themselves really well. We had seven lads from the academy who travelled with us to Pennyhill Park, some of which have been involved in the friendlies so far and it’s great experience for them.
“This club is all about giving young players opportunities and it’s also great to see the likes of Ollie Cooper and Brandon Cooper both making great strides in their recovery from injuries.”
Swansea’s new signings – Joel Piroe, Kyle Joseph and Liam Walsh – have all been getting used to their new surroundings and the Swans chief has been happy with what he has seen thus far.
The boss also confirmed that Ben Cabango is back with the group after his summer exertions with Wales at Euro 2020.
“The three new boys have all settled in really well,” said Cooper. “Kyle Joseph was with us on the first day of pre-season and Liam (Walsh) linked up with us while we were in Pennyhill Park.
“Joel had to observe a period of isolation after his move from Holland but has now trained with us a few times and he’s excited about the season ahead.
“All three players have made a good impression with the group both on and off the pitch and just need the minutes under their belts now.”
Tuesday’s friendly against Plymouth Argyle kicks off at Home Park at 7pm.
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