Steve Cooper: Championship good for young players, says Swansea City boss

Ben Wilmot
Ben Wilmot spent the second half of the 2018-19 season on loan at Italian club Udinese

Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper believes the Championship is an ideal breeding ground for young players.

Cooper could be forced to pair teenager Ben Cabango and 20-year-old Ben Wilmot in central defence against Fulham at the Liberty Stadium on Friday.

But the former England Under-17 coach is excited about fielding youngsters even if they are liable to make mistakes.

"It does not worry me, that's for sure," Cooper said.

"I think in general this league is good for giving young players a chance. You look last season at Joe Rodon here, Max Aarons and Mason Mount.

"There were more examples at this club last season than just Joe - Oli McBurnie, Daniel James, Connor Roberts - and I am probably missing a few out.

"I think the league is good for breeding young players. If you have got a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old playing regularly there will be some downs, but we won't think any less of them if they make mistakes. That is how you learn."

Wales Under-21 international Cabango made his league debut as a substitute in the 1-1 draw at Huddersfield on Tuesday after Mike van der Hoorn came off with an ankle injury.

Swansea do not think the Dutchman - who has started 65 straight league games - has a serious problem but he is doubtful for the visit of Fulham, while Rodon is definitely missing.

That means Cabango could make his first league start alongside Wilmot, who has made seven Championship appearances since joining on loan from Watford.

"I have no problem with Ben Cabango playing," Cooper added.

"There's no doubt he will end up in the team in the future - or certainly give himself a chance - it's just a matter of when really.

Steve Cooper
Steve Cooper succeeded Graham Potter as Swansea City boss during the summer of 2019

"If Mike is out for a little bit it does leave us a bit bare, but that's fine."

Sixth-placed Swansea are the only EFL side yet to lose an away league game this season but they have struggled on their own patch of late, winning only one of their last six Championship fixtures at the Liberty Stadium.

"It's annoying to be fair," Cooper said. "I think teams have set up against us at the Liberty to not get beaten and that does pose us a problem.

"It's been frustrating that we've not been able to score enough goals and we have given away goals that have cost us.

"The only way to put it right is to deal with the next game and we are really looking forward to playing Fulham. We want to attack putting the home form right."

Cooper expects a stern challenge against a Fulham side who are third in the table after three successive wins.

"They could compete week in, week out in the Premier League - there's no doubt about that," he said.

"I am not surprised they are winning games and playing good football. I think it's expected of them."