Steve Cooper believes Swansea City can take heart from their Carabao Cup exit at Watford – despite the club’s second defeat in three games.
The Swans went out of the tournament as they lost 2-1 at Vicarage Road to the Premier League club, who were still smarting from their 8-0 mauling at Manchester City on Saturday.
Quique Sanchez Flores got the response he wanted from Watford thanks to a winner from Danny Welbeck and Roberto Pereyra’s opener after Sam Surridge had equalised for the Swans.
Cooper said: “The performance was much better than the result. We were the best team for large parts.
“Obviously, we were disappointed to concede from a set-play, but we scored a good goal from the move of the match.
“We showed great bravery on the ball and wanted to win the game. I thought we were unlucky to lose.
“It is encouraging. We are disappointed because we do not want to lose football matches, but the greater good shows the strength in depth in the squad.
“I really believe anyone training with the first team is capable of playing for us in any game.
“Tonight showed that. That was no second team out there, we put out a team we thought could win and we should have.
“We were the better team facing an established Premier League team with some really good players and we made them look second best.”
Although a youthful Swansea side, with eight changes from the weekend, threatened an upset, Pereyra had the final say to secure a first victory for Flores since he returned to the club.
Watford made the breakthrough in the 28th minute – which was around 10 minutes longer than it took City to score five on Saturday, when former England man Welbeck opened his account.
The 28-year-old, twice a League Cup winner with Manchester United, nodded in Pereyra’s corner with the help of a deflection.
However, Watford’s lead lasted just six minutes as Bournemouth loanee Surridge slid in at the far post to convert Nathan Dyer’s cross.
Swansea, among the Championship’s early pace-setters despite a recent defeat at home to Nottingham Forest and draw at Bristol City, were inches from taking the lead when Connor Roberts’ goalbound header was acrobatically cleared off the line by Christian Kabasele.
But the winner arrived with 11 minutes remaining, sub Gerard Deulofeu whipping in a low cross with Pereyra on hand to tap home.
Flores, who used his programme notes to again apologise to the Watford supporters who travelled to City and made 10 changes to his starting line-up, said: “The important thing was to win after the weekend.
“We felt the support from the fans so I say ‘thank you’ to them. It was a bad experience for all of us.
“I told the players we don’t have reasons to be sad. We have reasons to react. We need to show everyone we can do much better.
“It’s in the past and now we have another important game against Wolves in a few days.”