Oli Cooper reveals father motivation ahead of U23s' season opener
Oli Cooper heads into Swansea City Under-23s’ Premier League 2 Division 2 opener against Norwich City with plenty of added incentive, as he aims to find the net against one of his father’s former clubs.
The attacking midfielder, who scored three times in 25 appearances last term, is looking to make a telling impact as the development side launch their new season away at Colney Training Centre.
East Anglia is familiar territory for the Cooper family after father Kevin enjoyed a brief loan spell with Norwich at the back end of the 2003-04 season.
Cooper Sr. made 10 appearances at Carrow Road as the Canaries were promoted to the Premier League as Division One champions.
Finding the net against his Kevin's former clubs is not something unfamiliar to Cooper, who scored home and away against Wolves in last season’s Premier League Cup.
And he is hoping to follow suit on Friday to meet his father’s demands.
“My dad always wants me to go out and score against his old clubs,” the 19-year-old said.
“Obviously, I was only four when he was at Norwich so I don’t remember too much about his time there.
“But knowing he was certainly gives me extra motivation going into this game.
“Hopefully, I can go out there and get a goal.”
Cooper’s efforts during the 2018-19 season – his first as a professional – earned him a two-year contract extension in February before an ankle ligament injury sustained in the following month’s Premier League Cup quarter-final victory over Nottingham Forest curtailed his campaign.
He is hoping to become an influential player for the under-23s from start to finish this term, as they look to bounce back to the top flight of development football at the first time of asking.
The 19-year-old, who has been with the club since under-12 level, is under no illusions that he faces a constant battle for a place in the starting 11, and is clear about what he must do to aid his own cause.
“I know how difficult the season is going to be and tough it will be to earn a place in the team,” he added.
“I know I need to make an impact in games. I’d like to score more goals and play all the way through.
“I was in and out of the team at the start of last season, so I want to be a key player this year.
“If we can hit the ground running, we know we can have a successful season and push to be back where we should be.”