MARK Cooper has confirmed that the Swindon Town players were consulted by the club’s management as they weighed up whether or not to keep Nile Ranger at the County Ground.
As revealed on www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk on Saturday, Ranger apologised to the Swindon squad at a training session on Thursday and - after discussing the issue with the forward’s teammates - Town decided against cancelling the former Newcastle man’s contract in Wiltshire, as they had previously intended to do.
Cooper remains unconvinced that Ranger is a changed man despite his public remorse, saying: “Nile came to me and wanted to apologise to the players. It was put to the players – did they want to give him another chance. I think in football terms they want him in the team but with the rest of the stuff off the pitch they feel very let down by him and they let him know that.
“They decided that we’re a better team with him in it. Words are cheap and I’ve heard it before from Nile. Let’s see. That’s two days he’s been on time, three would be a miracle so let’s see what happens.”
Taking the issues off the pitch to one side, Ranger’s presence evidently buoyed Swindon on Saturday as they saw off Peterborough United 2-1.
The hitman headed home his seventh goal of the season in the 28th minute to put Town in front before Yaser Kasim scored Swindon’s second in the 70th minute, which rendered Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s late strike for the visitors redundant.
Cooper said: “He scored a goal which we worked on. It was funny because I was sat in the directors’ box in the first half and there were a few old boys behind me when we played it short who were screaming ‘get it in the bloody box’.
“When it went in I had a nice little look round at them and thought ‘thank you for that’.
“What he does is he stops the ball coming back quicker than it would with anyone else. When he plays we’re a bit of a tougher opponent.”