Belfast Telegraph

Cooper hopes he's regained sparkle

By Stuart McKinley

Joel Cooper has admitted to suffering from something that even the top clubs and players have struggled with. Cooper scooped the main Young Player of the Year awards after an impressive first season in the top flight with Glenavon and also caught the eye of Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

But second season syndrome is common in the game. Such were Cooper's performances last season that when O'Neill wanted to take a couple of young Irish League players to France to train alongside his squad in preparation for Euro 2016, the Glenavon winger got the call along with Linfield's Paul Smyth.

Now, after a sparkling performance and two goals in a 5-0 win over Portadown to help Glenavon to the semi-finals of the Irish Cup, Cooper - who turned 21 last week - is hoping that the last seven or eight months are merely a blip.

"I loved the experience and Michael O'Neill was brilliant. I'll never forget what he did in bringing me over to France," said Cooper ahead of his side's clash at home to Dungannon Swifts tomorrow.

"This season my form has dipped, I've struggled with injuries and being in and out of the team. Hopefully after playing my part in the win at Portadown my form can continue that way.

"A lot of our league games have ended in draws and maybe in another season we'd have been winning those games and been further up the league."

Belfast Telegraph


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