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Why forgotten man could be set to play a big role for Swansea City this season – opinion

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Things have started fantastically well for Steve Cooper at Swansea City.

The 39-year-old arrived at the Liberty Stadium in the summer to take up his first job in senior management and has made it look easy over the first few weeks.

His side sit fourth in the Championship, after an opening weekend 2-1 win against Hull City, a 0-0 draw away at Derby County, and a 3-2 victory over Preston North End.

The Swans also eased into the second round of the Carabao Cup last week, beating League Two side Northampton Town 3-1 at home.

Cooper’s start is made all the more impressive when you consider that two of the Welsh club’s most influential attacking threats left to join Premier League clubs this summer, in Dan James (five goals and 10 assists) and Oli McBurnie (24 goals and four assists).

McBurnie is likely the bigger blow, especially when you consider that a direct replacement was not brought in before deadline day.

The striker’s contributions have been replaced by an unlikely source in recent weeks but one that could prove vital for the side this season.

Borja Baston, long considered a “flop”, has scored three goals in the last three games and is top of the Championship golden boot standings, due to his one assist and higher goal-per-minute ratio.

Swansea broke their transfer record to sign the Spaniard from Atletico Madrid for £15 million in 2016 but he had scored just once for the club prior to this season.

However, under Cooper, it seems he may be finally set to prove his worth and it appears the conditions to do so could be ideal for him there.

McBurnie took advantage of the fact that this Swansea side are capable of creating chances last season and the majority of that team are still at the club, which suggests Baston should get similar opportunities.

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The two are a similar size and build, McBurnie is six-foot-two and Borja is six-foot-one, and the resemblance does not end there.

Both are traditional number nines who do most of their goalscoring in the box – according to Whoscored, all of McBurnie’s league goals have come inside the box, while all but two of Baston’s in the past five years have been scored in that area.

Baston’s previous failures at Swansea were at Premier League level and the drop down in quality to the Championship appears to suit him.

The 26-year-old has shown previously he has what it takes to be a consistent goalscorer, having bagged 18 La Liga goals for Eibar in 2015/16 and 22 La Liga 2 goals for Real Zaragoza in 2014/15, so clearly he has quality.

It has been three years since the Spaniard’s big-money move and the pressure of that price-tag will likely have worn off slightly.

He appears to have a fresh start under Cooper at Swansea and the Swans boss has been full of praise for his number nine, that sort of a confidence boost could do wonders for him.

Few fans of the Welsh club will likely have been considering Baston as a possible McBurnie replacement but the new boss appears to be getting the best out of him so far.

If he can keep finding the net, he might just have shaken that “flop” tag by the end of the season.


London-based sports journalist at Snack Media EFL accredited, graduate of New Associates and the University of Brighton

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Why forgotten man could be set to play a big role for Swansea City this season – opinion

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