Swansea City Under-18s Brandon Cooper

23rd July 2016

Swansea City defender Brandon Cooper hopes his experience of playing at a higher level last season will help his first full season as an academy scholar. 
The 16-year-old defender, who made his debut for the Under-18s against Reading in September, is one of a handful of first-years scholars who took the step up to play with the academy side last season alongside defenders Matthew Blake and Ben Cabango. 
Cooper went on to feature ten times for the Under-18s, which gave the Wales Under-17 international valuable experience ahead of this campaign.
This season the centre-back joins 12 other first-year scholars that make up Chris Llewellyn and Eric Ramsay's 24-man Under-18s squad.
And he's looking forward to playing at that level on a regular basis.
"My experience playing-up with the U18s from an U16 level last season was invaluable," said Cooper.
"The games were very tough but it gave me huge confidence and helped me develop my game faster. 
"I feel myself, Matthew Blake and Ben Cabango, who also played a number of minutes with the U18s last season, can help other first-year scholars taking that step up this year.

"All 24 players believe they have a chance to get into the team and challenge for a place, whether they are a first or second year scholar.
"We are a really tight group who work for each other - there is a lot of communication between us. Everyone knows what everyone is like. We just all work for each other to get the job done."
Cooper, who has been part of the Swans academy set up since the age of six, joined the U18s squad on their pre-season training camp in Austria this month.
The young defender helped the scholars to victories over SC Wiener Neustadt and Hull City Academy.
He added: "Getting the minutes under your belt on that trip was key to get the fitness levels up."
"The team bonding has been fantastic and is huge for us. I feel it sets the tone for the rest of the season. 
"We want to carry the team spirit we have created on this Austria tour into our first game and beyond this season."

Swans U18s face West Brom in a pre-season at the Baggies' training ground later today (12pm).