8:50am Friday 27th September 2013
By David Pritchard
DESPITE missing several key players Oxford United will be tough opponents tomorrow, according to Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper.
The U’s will make the 480-mile round trip to County Durham without five senior players.
Dave Kitson and Andy Whing are suspended, joining injured trio Jake Wright, James Constable and Jon Meades on the sidelines.
But despite being below full strength, the Pools manager is not lulled into thinking it will be straightforward for the hosts.
He said: “I suggest (United manager) Chris Wilder is wise enough to have replacements and a game plan lined up.
“We had Dave (Kitson) at Middlesbrough when I was there.
“I like him as a player, he’s 6ft 3in and technically clever, but for him to be missing doesn’t mean there won’t be another challenge for our players.
“We have a real tough game in prospect.”
Hartlepool have taken time to find their stride since suffering relegation from Sky Bet League One at the end of last season.
It took six games for them to score in the league, but they have shown signs of improvement in recent games and they came within seconds of winning at Bristol Rovers before conceding a late goal to draw 2-2 last weekend.
Cooper thinks with United losing for the first time last weekend, both sides have added incentive.
He said: “Oxford come here and will be less than happy.
“They feel as though they have to quickly bounce back from defeat against Chesterfield last weekend and build on a good start to the season.
“For us, we look at the challenge of a team in the top four.
“A chance for us to test ourselves and see if we are progressing in a way in which we think we are.”
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