Sheffield United: Boss reveals his idea to cope with Millwall's Jake Cooper

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has joked he might be forced to “nobble” Millwall’s Jake Cooper in the tunnel ahead of today’s match between the two clubs at Bramall Lane.

Saturday, 6th August 2022, 5:00 am

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Cooper, who is expected to feature for the visitors, has scored five times in his last seven appearances against United despite being a centre-half.

The last of those efforts came when Heckingbottom’s men travelled to south London in February and the 44-year-old said: “It might be my job in the tunnel, to nobble Jake, before we go out there. That might be what I have to do. Seriously though, we have to be aware of his threat. But he isn’t the only one they’ve got, and they’re very strong from set-pieces and without the ball too.”

Heckingbottom, who could include debutants Anel Ahmedhodzic and James McAtee in his starting eleven for United’s first home game of the new season, saw his men beaten 1-0 by Watford during the opening round of fixtures. Millwall began their campaign with a win over Stoke City.

“You saw in that one, that you can’t only be aware of Jake,” Heckingbottom continued. “They (City) put their biggest man on him and then up popped Charlie Cresswell to score himself.

Jake Cooper of Millwall scores to make it 1-0 during the Sky Bet Championship match against Sheffield United at the Den last season: Paul Terry / Sportimage

“Millwall pose a different type of challenge to Watford. It’s something we’re aware of. But we know we have the people to cause problems as well.”

One of those is McAtee, whose loan move from Manchester City was completed on Thursday.

“If we can get him on the ball high up the pitch, we know he’s got the required composure,” Heckingbottom said.

Paul Heckingbottom, the manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Billy Sharp of Sheffield United battles with Jake Cooper: Paul Terry / Sportimage