Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Comeback Cooper in Form for Boro

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Comeback Cooper in Form for Boro

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jack Pickering

Colin Cooper's remarkable rollercoaster season reached new heights at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

The 37-year-old former England international, recalled from his loan spell at Sunderland to solve a defensive injury crisis, played like a man with eyes focused on the European Championships rather than one recently deprived of Premiership action.

Cooper may not have had a fair crack of the whip at the Riverside in the second half of this season, but he never lets the team down.

In only his second Boro start of 2004, Cooper slotted in alongside Ugo Ehiogu as if he had never been away, and helped nullify the threat of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Eidur Gudjohnsen.

Cooper is due to sit down with manager Steve McClaren at the end of the season to discuss his future. This gritty performance can only have improved his chances of winning another year's extension.

There is a chance of a coaching role at the Riverside, or even an opening as a player-coach. Cooper is in no doubts that he wants to play on. He said: "I've lost none of the faith in my ability. It was great to have the chance to play at Chelsea and I'd love to stay in the team.

"I don't know what the future holds. It will all be sorted out at the end of the season.

"I've not really thought about stopping playing, and I do seem to have a few options, which is great at my age. But for the moment I'm just happy to be playing."

Boro have operated throughout much of the season without a reserve team coach and this is one job which could be made available to Cooper in the summer. For now Boro desperately need him as a Premiership player, especially while skipper Gareth Southgate and Chris Riggott battle injuries.

McClaren said: "Coops hasn't played for a long time, but he took his opportunity like a true professional. …

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