Mark Cooper wants Swindon Town to drive a wedge between Sheffield United’s players and support, writes James Shield.
Cooper, the visitors’ manager, issued his challenge ahead of this afternoon’s meeting between the two teams at Bramall Lane which sees Nigel Clough’s side look to stretch their unbeaten run to five games and drag themselves towards League One safety in the process.
Cooper, who expects to be without centre-forward Nile Ranger, said: “We can’t give the opposition any encouragement because if you give the crowd there any encouragement then they are one of the most vociferous in the country.
“We need to solve that problem first and try to quiet the crowd down and play off of that.
“Defensively they will be better than they were but offensively we have players who can hurt them.
“It’s not the team that’s too big it’s the club. Obviously the team is not too big because they are in this division and have been for a few years.”
“It’s the same as a lot of clubs really in that financial problems mean you have to cut your cloth accordingly and then it becomes hard to get out,” Cooper added. “They are in the league for a reason and we will respect them but we will still want to go out there and show everybody what we are all about.
“We want to go away to the big stadiums and come away with everyone talking about how good a team we are.”
Clough, speaking during his pre-match media briefing in midweek, indicated United will look to adopt a more “expansive” approach against opponents 13 places higher in the table.
United, who are 20th, secured a creditable draw with leaders Leyton Orient a fortnight ago having beaten fellow strugglers Bristol City last month.
Tony McMahon could feature after suspension while Aidy White, on-loan from Leeds, also hopes to earn a recall after being forced to miss the FA Cup second round tie against Cambridge United under the terms of his temporary agreement.
Town, meanwhile, are unlikely to select Ranger after claims he failed to report for training. Despite United’s perilous predicament - they are above fourth from bottom Stevenage by virtue of a superior goal difference - Cooper still believes Clough’s squad are capable of mounting a late promotion challenge.
“Anybody can get on a run, especially with Christmas coming where you can win four or five games and getting yourself right in there,” he said. “So you can’t rule them out of doing that.”