By David Williams
Steve Cooper has urged his Swansea City players to keep their faith as their play-off hopes continue to fade.
The Swans manager had little to offer but optimism after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at Millwall that moved them up to eighth in the Championship table.
But they remain four points adrift of the play-off places with games fast running out and the only consolation of a disappointing night was the fact that Cardiff City failed to extend that gap to six points.
“We have to keep going and keep believing,” said Cooper, whose inconsistent team have won, lost and drawn in their three matches since the restart.
“Yes we need to get better with game management and get better with looking after the ball late in games, but we will always strive to be better because there is always something to improve on. We won’t give up.”
Rhian Brewster’s free-kick helped Swansea secure a point. The on-loan striker saw his superb strike come down off the bar and find the net via the back of Lions keeper Bartosz Bialkowski to cancel out Mason Bennett’s first-half effort for the hosts.
But neither side could find a winner despite having a handful of promising positions during the closing stages.
While Cooper was pleased with how his side fought back from a goal down, he was also frustrated they did not do enough to leave south-east London with all three points.
“There are mixed feelings, really. We had a lot of the ball first half, but I did not think we were not dangerous enough with it and we played too many passes in our own half.
“I was really disappointed with the goal we gave away. We knew counter attacks and set-plays were their biggest threats, so to make a basic error in the middle of the field and allow an obvious counter attack opportunity is something we are disappointed with.
While Brewster’s free-kick went down as a Bialkowski own-goal, the Swans boss saluted the efforts of the Liverpool loanee.
Cooper added: “He practises them every day and his returns are good. I have seen him do it on many occasions and you do fancy them. It was a brilliant goal.”
Cooper also confirmed Wales international Joe Rodon looks set to miss the remainder of the campaign after suffering an ankle injury in training on Sunday.
To add to his problems Rodon’s fellow centre-back Ben Wilmot had to come off late on at the Den after appearing to pick up a knee injury.
Cooper said it was too early to determine the severity of the on-loan Watford defender’s problem, but acknowledged the timing is far from ideal with Mike van der Hoorn also building back to full fitness after an injury lay-off of his own.
“Joe suffered a training injury on Sunday, it has more or less ruled him out for the season given there are only three weeks remaining,” said Cooper.
“It’s not a recurrence of a previous injury, it’s a completely fresh injury and it’s really bad luck for him and us as we were looking forward to getting him back.
“It was a complete accident, there was nothing anyone could do about it. It’s tough on him, and on us, as he has suffered with injuries the last couple of years.
“So, if you are going to pick up an injury today, the last position you want it at is centre-back.
“We are not sure of the extent of Ben’s injury as yet, he is limping around at the moment.
“We will have to see how the next day or two goes, what it looks like and whether he will be injured, but it did not look too good. We might get him back right at the end, but he does not have long to recover.”