Yeovil Town manager Mark Cooper has confirmed the injury to central defender Jake Wannell is not as bad as first feared.

The 29-year-old, who has been a revelation alongside Morgan Williams since joining in the summer, limped off after 26 minutes of the 4-2 home win over Farnborough on Tuesday night, with the Glovers immediately bringing in Bristol City youngster Duncan Idehen as a ready-made replacement.

The loanee, who arrived until the end of January earlier this week, seems likely to start tomorrow’s FA Trophy tie at Torquay United, but Cooper is hopeful Wannell will not be out for long.

Speaking on Friday ahead of tomorrow’s match, the boss said: “Wans is not as bad as we first thought, so we don’t think he’ll be too long. But we’ve added Duncan to the group, a brilliant signing for us.

It’s important that you always have your eye on a replacement and left footed defenders were not a position we were blessed with competition in and he was our number one choice. I rang Brian Tinnion at Bristol City at 9.45pm on Tuesday night and asked if we could have him and it’s brilliant from Bristol City that they have let him come and play some games.

Duncan Idehen, who joined on loan from Bristol City on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old has been an unused substitute for the Robins three times in the Championship this season, having had a five-game spell on loan at Carlisle United in League Two in the 2022/23 season.

Speaking of the youngster, Cooper said: “He’s a left-footed defender, so it’s a natural replacement (for Wannell), he brings balance. If you have two left footers or two right footers, it gives a little bit of imbalance which you could see in us the other night.

He’s been on the bench in the Championship this season, he’s played for Bristol City in the Championship and in the Football League. He’s a good age, very quick and very aggressive, so it’s a great signing for us.

Cooper said he had been to watch Idehen play in the Under-23s’ side the day before making the call to bring him to Huish Park.

He added: “We went to watch Bristol City’s Under-23s on Monday night, particularly to watch Duncan. It was blowing a gale, chucking it down with rain, but we saw what we needed to see.

On Saturday, the Glovers make a quick return to Torquay United, where they ran out 3-1 winners in National League South fixture earlier this month, with a place in the third round of the FA Trophy up for grabs.

Victory would see them stretch an already record-breaking winning run to 15 games in all competitions and Cooper is confident experienced heads in the dressing room will not allow confidence to become complacency.

He told our man Ian Perkins: “The experienced players we have in the changing room have seen it before. They will nip things in the bud. I tend to not spend too much time in the changing room, I will go in and speak before the game but during the week, that is their domain.

Anything that needs nipping in the bud, we have got some characters in their in Frank (Nouble), Murph (Rhys Murphy), Michael Smith, Joe Day, that will make things are done properly. So complacency for me is not an issue. We might play bad and get beat, but that won’t be through complacency.

The injury to Wannell added to the loss of midfielder Jordan Stevens, who Cooper revealed in the week may be facing an extended absence, along with long-term injury victim Jamie Sendles-White. But, with midfielder Charlie Cooper expected to be available for the tie and the likes of club captain Josh Staunton and play-maker Jordan Maguire-Drew  and striker Jake Hyde itching to start, the manager believes he has strong options.

Charlie Cooper is expected to be available for selection on Saturday.
Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

He said: “We want to go strong on all fronts. Being respectful to the Somerset Men’s Premier Cup, I don’t count that one, but FA Trophy, FA Cup, National League South we want to be competitive in every game we can because it sends out the message that we want to win every game we play.

That is probably not possible, but we want to send that message out. If you look at our bench, I’m not sure the boys coming in make it a weak team, they make it just as strong, they have just not had as many opportunities just yet.

I don’t think we have to change too much, if you win 14 games there’s not a lot wrong. Of course we are always fine-tuning and trying to make it even better. Torquay have changed since we played them, they changed on Saturday (in the 2-0 win at Havant & Waterlooville) to a back three, but it doesn’t really affect what we do. We have our patterns of play and the way we play is pretty clear, but without the ball we need to improve in certain ways.

Because we are away from home there is more anxiety for them in front of their home crowd. If it is 0-0 in the second half, I am perfectly happy because I always think we will get good opportunities to score.

With persistent rain forecast in South Devon overnight and throughout Saturday, the boss admitted he has concerns about whether the game will go ahead.

He said: “My biggest issue is the weather with the rain that is coming. The pitch down there was soft when we played last week, so whether it can take another 12 hours of torrential rain, I don’t know. I don’t think either team need that because we both have got really important league games on Tuesday night.

In other player news coming out of the Friday afternoon press conference, Cooper said striker Alex Fisher would not be gifted game time as he works his way back from a serious injury.

The 33-year-old suffered a broken tibia and fibula and severely damaged his ankle  in April, and has returned to training and was named among the nine substitutes named by Cooper in the FA Cup first round win over Gateshead recently.

Asked when he could return to action, the manager pointed to the form of Rhys Murphy, Frank Nouble and Sonny Cox, who are ahead of him in the striking pecking order at Huish Park.

He said: “He’s been out for a long time with a horrific injury. But there’s real competition for the striker positions with lots of players flying and fully fit. It is a tough one. We are not in the business of giving players game time for the sake of it, it has got to be earned and it is no different with any of the players.”

Alex Fisher heads towards goal. Picture courtesy of Mike Kunz.

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