By David Williams
It is four months since Swansea City last lost at home in the Championship, but Steve Cooper has told his players to take nothing for granted against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday night.
The third-placed Swans may have already beaten Chris Hughton’s side twice this season – including a 5-1 FA Cup hammering at the Liberty Stadium – but head coach Cooper is expecting a much stiffer challenge from Chris Hughton’s men this time round.
“They were in the two games we have played against them so far this season and this will be a completely different contest,” said Cooper.
“They have massive strength in depth and have one of the strongest squads in the league. The two previous games will have no bearing on this one and we have to be ready for it.
“We treat every opponent with the same respect, they are experienced with massive strength in depth.
“They have an experienced manager and coaching staff. It’s a really tough game and we have to be ready for it.”
The Swans haven’t been beaten in the Championship since they lost 2-0 at Derby on 16 December and last lost at the Liberty Stadium in the league to Huddersfield on 17 October.
Since then, title rivals Bournemouth, Watford, Brentford and table topping Norwich City have headed west and failed to secure maximum points.
The Swans were knocked out of the FA Cup by Manchester City last week on their own patch, but any lingering psychological or physical wounds from that 3-1 defeat should be out of their system having had a weekend off due to the weather.
Korey Smith is fit to resume to add to the feel-good factor around the squad, while Yan Dhanda’s knock to the knee against City hasn’t caused any lasting damage.
Swansea have two games in hand on both Brentford and Norwich, who are four and five points ahead of them respectively, and are both playing away from home tonight.
It’s that kind of progress in only his second full season as a head coach at a league club that has made Cooper an obvious contender for other jobs, with the latest link being with Crystal Palace.
Roy Hodgson – who will turn 74 this year – has yet to confirm whether he intends to stay on for a further season at the Premier League, who began the season brightly, but have since slipped back to 14th place in the table.
Reports claimed Cooper – Sky Bet EFL manager of the Month award winner for January – had been added to Palace’s shortlist for their next manager but he has insisted the suggestions are not even a distraction to the task in hand.
“All of that’s irrelevant,” he said. “Not even worth talking about.
“We’re in this mad schedule and the only thing I’m focused on is the team and preparing for the next game. No sideshows and certainly nothing to talk about.
“We stick together and carry on with our work. The boys regrouped after the called-off game. No one was asking for time off.
“We know we had to get that extra work done on the weekend. We’re focused on what’s in front of us, and I’m no different.”
“We don’t sit thinking about what happens in other games or to other clubs. There is more than enough to focus on when it comes to ourselves.
“We will never get caught up in whether other teams have drawn or lost, we will only ever be thinking about our own performances and our own results, because those are the things we can control.
“In the end, that is what gets you where you deserve to be.
“We have a tough game Wednesday, and there are still 19 games to go. So our chats are only about getting the best performance and three points in the next game.”