MARK Cooper is praying British Airways do Swindon Town a favour and cancel their trans-Atlantic services, leaving Notts County midfielder Andre Boucaud star stranded in the Caribbean.
Boucaud, who played for Cooper at Kettering, featured for Trinidad & Tobago in their goalless draw with New Zealand on Wednesday night and was due to return to the UK in time to link up with his club teammates for this evening’s clash at the County Ground.
Cooper rates the holding midfielder highly, however, and for that reason he’s holding out hope that his trip home has not been easy.
“I know Andre Boucaud,” the Swindon manager told the Advertiser. “He played for me and he’s a fantastic football player.
“He’s got tremendous ability, he’s very strong, I know he played for Trinidad and Tobago against New Zealand so I hope he’s seriously jetlagged, I hope the plane gets delayed and he doesn’t make it because make no mistake, he’s a good football player.”
Boucaud struggled to break out of non-league before County snapped him up in the summer, to the astonishment of Cooper, who said: “That happens with the way the game is and the foreign players playing you have to move down the leagues and Andre found himself playing out of the Football League, which was criminal.
“But fair play to him, he worked his way back up.”
Town’s manager is well aware of the threat posed by the visitors this evening, despite Notts languishing in 22nd place after a disastrous start to the campaign.
“(Jack) Grealish, if he’s fit, I’ve seen play over the last few years for Aston Villa and he’s a very gifted footballer so they’ve got players that can hurt us,” said Cooper.
“I think (Chris Kiwomya) is a very thoughtful manager, he likes to change his formations and he’s certainly got them trying to play good football.
“If we play the way we play we have a chance, no matter who we play, but we have to give Notts County respect. They’ve won their last three games.
“We have to concentrate and be mentally strong.
“I think they had knocks and one or two players out at the start of the season but they’ve started to show the real quality that they have got.
“We have to be really switched on because, make no mistake about it, Notts County can play football.”
After his side’s 4-0 victory at Rotherham last weekend, Cooper is guarding against complacency tonight.
“You see it all the time where somebody will go away and have a fantastic results, come home, play the bottom team and not get the result that they think they’re going to get,” he said.
“It then becomes a mental issue where the players have to be really, really focused on the job in hand.
Friday night football returns to the County Ground this evening for the first time since Tranmere were trounced 5-0 in December last year, and Cooper is looking forward to the occasion.
He said: “Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd. The night games always have more atmosphere for me. Hopefully we can put another show on at home, where we’ve been pretty strong, and get another good performance.”
Greg Tempest and Callum McGregor also return from international duty for Notts. McGregor is likely to be restored to the starting line-up while Tempest could start if Alan Sheehan is not fit. The former Swindon full-back has been struggling with a calf niggle.
Enoch Showunmi (back), David Bell and Haydn Hollis (knee) are all doubts.