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Clarke lauds young centre-half pairing

23 September 2015

Manager impressed by defensive duo

Royals boss Steve Clarke hailed the performances of defensive duo Jake Cooper and Michael Hector as they battled with Everton in the Capital One Cup in Tuesday evening.

20-year-old defender Cooper, making his first start of the season, partnered captain Hector in the heart of defence.  The Royals team collectively limited a strong Toffees attack – including the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Arounu Kone and Ross Barkley – to few opportunities despite the 2-1 win for the visitors.

While Clarke was pleased to see some new faces in action – including full debuts for Paolo Hurtado, Alex Fernandez, Lucas Piazon and Ola John – he was also happy to see such a strong display from the central defensive pairing against a potent Premier League attack.

“It’s one of the reasons that I played Jake Cooper and Michael Hector together this evening,” Clarke said of the tough Everton challenge.  “They are two young central defenders and they were outstanding. 

“In the first half they were asked big questions by Lukaku and Kone and dealt with it very well.  In the second half it was a slightly different problem with Barkley playing just behind Lukaku, but they dealt with it really well.

“Although the flair players like Hurtado, Piazon and John will probably get a bit more column inches, the performance of the two young central defenders was excellent.”

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