Yeovil Town boss Mark Cooper has said his table-topping squad are looking forward to an Easter of Westcountry action this weekend.

The Glovers take on Torquay United at Huish Park on Good Friday with more than 4,000 tickets already sold, before travelling to local rivals W*ymouth on Easter Monday in front of a huge away following.

They go in to the game seven points clear at the top of National League South following last weekend’s 1-0 win at third-placed Braintree Town knowing that nine more points will seal the title.

Speaking on Tuesday, the boss said: “It only works if you play well and it can work the other way if you do not. We need to be on the front foot and do what we do really well and give our fans something to cheer about. We are looking forward to it, they are two great games for us, we could not have picked them any better.

There is loads riding on both games, certainly the Torquay one at both ends of the table. The W*ymouth one, they are safe, but they won’t be wanting to lose anything to their local rivals. The players will be up for it and I know the supporters will be up for it.”

Frank Nouble will be up against his old employers when Torquay come to Huish Park on Good Friday. Picture courtesy of Gary Brown

On Friday, Torquay arrive in Somerset four places and four points off the relegation zone having been deducted ten points having stated their intent to go in to administration. But Cooper is under no illusion about the calibre of players in the Gulls’ squad.

He said: “If you are a player you just want to play, you want to get paid and play. The interim manager will have them well-organised like they were against Hampton (a game Torquay won 1-0 at home last weekend) when they had to withstand an awful lot of pressure and did it really well. When you look at their starting XI, it is a really experienced, solid one and they have Aaron Jarvis to come back in to it. We are really looking forward to it. 

Looking at their last couple of games, if they have them available, they will play those players. So we have an idea of a group of players that will play. You look at Dean Moxey, a fantastic player who has had a top career, Asa Hall, Kevin Dawson, Tom Lapslie, all these kind of players are really experienced. We know if they are fit they will play and they will be desperate to come here and get something, so we have to fully respect that and make sure we give everything we have got and get the result.

W*ymouth are sitting comfortably in mid-table, ten points away from the drop zone, but with local rivalry at stake, Cooper is under no illusions that they will not be giving Yeovil any quarter.

He said: “I am sure their manager (Bobby Wilkinson) and players will be wound up to not let us win. That is football and how it should be. We are taking hordes of fans their and I am just looking at seeing that green-and-white and seeing the occasion. Professional head on, we just want to go and get the job done.

You want to be playing in front of big crowds. I do not have to worry about players being up for it, when it is a little bit quiet it can be a bit laid back, so we know we cannot step off the gas. We know the fans will be driving us on, at W*ymouth there is going to be a massive following which will make it like a home game. We just want to do really well for them.

Fans got excited by the sight of striker Rhys Murphy and influential full-back Michael Smith in training this week. Murphy has been missing since picking up an innocuous looking injury in the victory at Taunton Town in January whilst Smith has not featured since going off early in the 1-0 home defeat to Welling United earlier this month.

Cooper said: “Murphy and Smith are back in training, but it will be too soon for them to come back in. Alex Whittle is out until pre-season. If you took any teams two frontline full-backs and two strikers who you spent all your money on out of that team, people would get a pass and an excuse for not being as on form as they are expected to be. We don’t get that and we don’t moan about that, we just get on with it. We have had to find a different way to keep us competitive we might not have been as scintillating as we might have been, but we have lost four massive players. We have added a couple of players that have given us a bit of a lift.”

He also confirmed that the omission of winger Jordan Stevens from the squad at Braintree was down to form, not fitness. He said: “No injury concern. He just has not done enough. We look at who has performed well in training and in games and there were players in front of him that had done a bit more than him. Maybe it is a kick up the backside for him, he has got to get going.

Left-back Alex Whittle has also been ruled out for the rest of the season through injury with Jay Foulston stepping in for the 0-0 draw at Slough Town and the win at Braintree. Cooper admitted he had been impressed with Foulston and Brooklyn Genesini, who has filled in for Smith since joining on loan from Swindon Town.

The manager said: “I have been very impressed with both of them and we have kept two clean sheets with them in the team. It still takes time to bed them in terms of how we play going forwards. Brooklyn is coming in to replace an international, a crowd favourite who is so calm in everything he does, but he has done great. But again we are just looking at getting them prepared for Friday.

“(Alex) has been a real stalwart at the back and a top player, but we are lucky to have Jay Foulston to step in as a calm replacement. Alex is a big miss, but luckily we have found out today that he does not require surgery and they are going to let it heal naturally. That is a real big bonus for us and for him.

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