TOWN boss Mark Cooper feels his side have dished out a healthy portion of optimism ahead of next season with their recent run of good form.

Six wins in seven matches might not ultimately be enough to lift the club into the League One play-off places but Cooper’s men look well set for a seventh-placed finish, just one spot below where they ended the previous term despite their wage bill being cut in half over the past 12 months.

The playing budget is likely to fall again over the summer, to around £1.5million, but Cooper remains confident in the squad he has assembled and he thinks they have proved they have what it takes to have another successful campaign next term.

He said: “I think we’ve got a nucleus of a very good, young, athletic, footballing squad for next year and if we keep them together, work with them in pre-season and add three or four to it, I’m sure we’ll be fine.

“The players have been outstanding. They’ve adapted to the system and they’ve got some really good results against some big teams. It stands us in good stead going forward. Wherever we finish we’ve given people a bit of optimism ahead of next year.”

Meanwhile, the Swindon boss was pleased with the performance of striker Michael Smith against Bradford City. Cooper has been delighted by the way the former Charlton man has reacted to his recent public criticism, saying: “I thought Michael Smith was very good again (on Monday). He got hold of the ball well. We decided to play slightly differently because Nathan Byrne was ill. I just felt it might be better go two up and I thought we were very good.”

Finally, reports yesterday suggested Nottingham Forest are interested in on-loan Tottenham winger Alex Pritchard.

Forest boss Stuart Pearce was at Sixfields to watch Pritchard open the scoring in Town’s 2-1 win over Coventry City on Good Friday, and the Press Association have suggested the 20-year-old could be on the Championship club’s wishlist this summer.