Swansea City face ‘painful’ promotion bid, says boss Steve Cooper – BBC Sport

Swansea last played on 7 March in a home draw with West Bromwich Albion

Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper has warned his players of the “pain” they face if they are to challenge for promotion to the Premier League.

With nine regular season Championship games remaining, Swansea are three points off the play-offs in 11th.

They are due to resume their campaign away to Middlesbrough on 20 June.

“Players are going to have to go through a threshold of pain that many may not have been at before,” Cooper warned.

“It’s a different situation… we have talked to the players a lot about this being a different scenario. At times it is not going to feel normal.”

Swansea’s last Championship encounter was a goalless home draw on 7 March against second place West Bromwich Albion.

Championship: Pros and cons to restart – Swans boss Cooper

Cooper admitted returning to training after lockdown, amid strict protocols because of the Covid-19 virus, had created a unique set of circumstances.

“So far we have had no obvious injuries. There is obviously tightness in the legs, some aches and pains. That is normal when you go back to a pre-season or a player returns from injury,” the Swans boss said.

“We are not going to push any players into a situation where it is very likely they are going to get injured. But we do know we are going to be right on the threshold of fatigue and knocks and niggles. That is the situation we are in.

“The challenge is to get ready for the first game. We don’t want to be too cautious, so that when the 20th comes against Middlesbrough we are not ready to play 90 minutes.

“But this is what we have to do, we have had to plan for it. We talk to the players openly about what we are doing and everybody is committed to it.”

The English Football League has said the regular Championship season will finish with midweek games on 21 or 22 July, to provide time for the play-off semi-finals, before the final on either 2 or 3 August.

With a week’s break between the Middlesbrough opener and a home match with Luton Town on 27 June, it is a daunting match schedule.

But with a potentially lucrative prize in sight, Cooper is not complaining: “Everybody is the same. Playing nine games in so many days by a certain date is tough, but we have to plan for it and that is what we’re doing. The other option is to moan about it and we are not doing that.

“We are excited about returning. Let’s not forget Wales is behind other countries in terms of the lockdown.

“So I really want to get back to playing, so it gives fans – even though they cannot come to the games – something to look forward to. It gives them a feel-good factor and more purpose in their life, for us as well.

“You will not get negativity from me. There has been enough of that not just with football but the whole country, indeed the whole world.

“We have a chance to go back to football, to recommence the season. There is everything to be excited for – and that is our approach.”

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