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Catch-up with Coops

We talk to the defender...

23 March 2020

Jake Cooper cannot wait for football to return - but has stressed that everyone must "be patient" amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

The defender is an integral part of a Millwall squad that has seen their 2019/20 season - along with most of the footballing world - suspended, as the globe looks to rid itself of a deadly illness.

The Lions briefly returned to training last week, but are now off and are at home until 3rd April at the earliest, ahead of a potential return to action in May.

Speaking to millwallfc.co.uk, Cooper told of the need for everyone to follow government advice, as well as detailing what work he and the rest of the players are doing at home during these unprecedented times.

Should the campaign - which will be completed no matter what - resume, Millwall may face a glut of fixtures in a short space of time, but that's not something the former Reading man is thinking about at this moment.

"It's a difficult time for us as we're all set in a routine - not just us, but everyone in the country and around the world," he said. "I've been managing my life without football, as I'm sure all supporters, coaches and managers are.

"We're all in the same boat. There's been communication with the Sports Science staff and they've set us a programme to follow in the next two weeks, and at the moment everything is just geared towards a return to training on 3rd April. Hopefully we'll be able to do that.

"I haven't thought about the possible schedule on our return to football - just playing a single game would be nice at the moment! If we have to play games thick and fast and we have to hammer them out to finish the season then so be it. Everyone just wants to get back playing and I'm sure everyone wants to get back to their normal lives. We have to be patient and make sure everyone is looked after. We all need to follow the government advice."

On the pitch, Cooper has continued his outstanding form since the change in management and arrival of Gary Rowett in October, and praised the boss and his backroom team for the upturn in The Lions' fortunes.

The 25-year-old enjoyed a fruitful season in front of goal last year, but has seen his tally limited to just one this campaign (in the 2-1 win at Bristol City in December); the centre-back, though, is happy as long as the team are picking up points.

"I'm really enjoying it under Gary and the staff he has brought in. Full credit to them, they changed our shape and we tried a few different things out. He hasn't been afraid to revert back to things either, such as the four at the back against Nottingham Forest that didn't serve us so well at the beginning of the season. We have confidence going to places now, we're a lot stronger.

"The goals haven't been there this season for me, and this break isn't great to dwell on things like that, but it's one of those things. Hutchy [Shaun Hutchinson] has stepped up and scored some goals this year and Matt Smith has scored a lot, so it's been a team effort - goals are coming from all over the place. I'm happy as long as the result is positive, but I'll try and add to that myself."

When the action does resume, Cooper will be seeking to maintain a record which has seen him play every minute of every Sky Bet Championship match for over 100 starts.

"Maybe the break has come at a good time for me! I've missed enough games in my career through injuries at other clubs, and I hated missing them. Now, I'm going to make sure I'm out there all the time and do my best for the club and myself. There's nothing else that tops a Saturday afternoon and giving my all for the club, for me."


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