Millwall defender Jake Cooper said that he isn’t even thinking about the schedule for the remainder – but is itching to return to the grass, admitting that playing one single game at present would be nice.
With COVID-19 forcing the entire professional game in England to be suspended until further notice, it’s unclear when the Lions will return to Championship action, with all-but one of their remaining games needing to be played at a later date as it stands.
Speaking to Millwall’s official club website, Cooper said: “I haven’t thought about the possible schedule on our return to football – just playing a single game would be nice at the moment! If we have to play games thick and fast and we have to hammer them out to finish the season then so be it. Everyone just wants to get back playing and I’m sure everyone wants to get back to their normal lives. We have to be patient and make sure everyone is looked after. We all need to follow the government advice.”
Prior to the pause, Millwall beat Nottingham Forest to get themselves back into contention for the play-offs, with their emphatic victory at the City Ground moving Gary Rowett’s men just two points behind sixth-placed Preston North End going into the final nine games.
Cooper has praised Rowett and his coaching staff for their impact and said the Lions squad are playing with confidence at present.
“I’m really enjoying it under Gary and the staff he has brought in.
“Full credit to them, they changed our shape and we tried a few different things out. He hasn’t been afraid to revert back to things either, such as the four at the back against Nottingham Forest that didn’t serve us so well at the beginning of the season. We have confidence going to places now, we’re a lot stronger.
“The goals haven’t been there this season for me, and this break isn’t great to dwell on things like that, but it’s one of those things. Hutchy [Shaun Hutchinson] has stepped up and scored some goals this year and Matt Smith has scored a lot, so it’s been a team effort – goals are coming from all over the place. I’m happy as long as the result is positive, but I’ll try and add to that myself.”
“Maybe the break has come at a good time for me! I’ve missed enough games in my career through injuries at other clubs, and I hated missing them. Now, I’m going to make sure I’m out there all the time and do my best for the club and myself. There’s nothing else that tops a Saturday afternoon and giving my all for the club, for me.”
Footballers all around the country will be desperate to return to playing, but not playing during a season will be stranger for Cooper more than most given his incredible run of playing 90 minutes in consecutive league matches.
The game at Forest recent was Cooper’s 113th successive match in which he played 90 minutes – almost of 170 hours of league action since he was last not on the pitch for the Lions in league action.