Steve Cooper says Rhian Brewster is loving life at Swansea City and believes his goals can help fuel a surge into the play-offs.
Brewster scored the opener in the Swans’ 2-1 win at home to Sheffield Wednesday on Sunday to make it three goals in four matches for the Liverpool loanee, plus the shot that forced a goalkeeper’s own goal at Millwall.
The young striker has looked hungry and purposeful since the season resumed and although he went off with a shoulder injury before the end, it is not considered serious and he should be fit to play at Birmingham City on Wednesday.
Cooper was full of admiration for the 20-year-old he worked with at England U17 level, though he was pains to underline the collective approach the youngster adheres to.
“He took his goal very well, he is scoring goals and is a threat, and he loves it here so he’s a big part of our team.
“But he will be the first to tell you it’s not about individuals, it’s about the team. The team is benefitting from him, but we also have Conor Gallagher with his running covering lots of distance, Marc Guehi was outstanding, Ben Canango has been great and we have Mike van der Hoorn coming back, too.
“There is not long to go now, but a lot will happen. We need to focus on the Birmingham game and I’ve told the players they need to back up a win with another win.
“Birmingham will have an extra day to recover, but we can’t use that as an excuse. We have to focus on that match and doing well again.”
Cooper is right to stress both the limited number of opportunities that remain this season – there are just five games left – but the inevitability of plenty of twists and turns along the way.
What Swansea need is to find some consistency in their remaining matches and the kind of quality they produced at times during the second-half, when they scored both goals.
Brewster’s goal in the 52nd minute laid the foundation before Andre Ayew’s penalty subdued a Sheffield Wednesday side that lost focus following a dominant first-half.
But Wednesday substitute Atdhe Nuhiu scored with an emphatic header four minutes into injury time to usher a frantic few moments which Cooper wincing until it passed.
The victory narrows the gap between Swansea, in eighth, and rivals Cardiff City – who occupy sixth spot – to just four points with five matches remaining. Derby County are wedged between them, a point better off than the Swans.
The only blemish was a shoulder injury suffered by Brewster which forced him to leave late on, cradling his arm in a makeshift sling.
It seems an eternity since Swansea were the early Championship leaders when they won five and drew one of their opening six games.
But with the sun on their backs once more, they produced fleeting reminders of that fluency in the second-half.
Brewster put them ahead with his third goal in four matches since lockdown ended, when he showed instinct, power and calm to finish off from Connor Roberts’ cross after Jay Fulton had flicked the ball on.
It was Roberts who was then shoved to the ground in the goalmouth by Adam Reach, leading to the penalty which Ayew despatched after his trademark pause in the run-up.
For Wednesday, back-to-back defeats leaves them treading water back in 15th place in the table. They missed four clear opportunities in the opening half – three of them squandered by Jacob Murphy – and have won just once in their last six league games.
Brewster could have made it 3-0 when put through but hit the side-netting, before a late flurry from Wednesday yielded Nuhui’s goal from a Kadeem Harris cross.
Wednesday’s former Swansea manager Garry Monk has now been on the touchline against his old club four times and is yet to win a game.
Monk admitted: “It’s so, so frustrating. We had dominance in the first half and we should have been in a good position going into half time.
“For all the dominance and good chances we had we couldn’t score and when you do that it leaves the door ajar.
“That’s been a bit of a theme this season. We played so well in the first half but in the second we had some poor decisions and a few minutes of madness.”