Ertl delight at return of dressing-room favourite

Shaun Cooper made a welcome return to Pompey colours for last Saturday's League Two trip to Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler
Shaun Cooper made a welcome return to Pompey colours for last Saturday's League Two trip to Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

Shaun Cooper made his debut for Pompey’s first team 11-and-a-half years ago.

Now he’s back for a third spell – and Johnny Ertl believes the dressing room is a better place having the familiar figure of the utility man back within it.

The 29-year-old last week signed for the Blues, initially until January, and appeared as a substitute in the League Two visit to Cheltenham 48 hours later.

Previously for Pompey, Cooper made 14 appearances and scored two goals in the second half of last season while on loan at Crawley, playing alongside skipper Ertl.

Before then he rose through the Fratton Park ranks as an apprentice, being granted his senior bow by Graham Rix against Crystal Palace in March 2002.

That was one of seven appearances before joining Bournemouth upon his release by then manager Harry Redknapp in the summer of 2005.

Now the versatile performer has once more returned to the club where it all began and will be in the frame for tomorrow’s trip to Burton Albion.

And Ertl has welcomed Cooper’s influential presence on-and-off the field of play.

He said: ‘Coops is a brilliant lad in the dressing room and knows Pompey in and out.

‘He comes from the Isle of Wight so is a local boy and knows what it means to play football here. I am really pleased to have him back on board

‘Last season he finished with two fantastic goals and when he came on against Cheltenham he did very well, was really calm on the ball and won a lot of tackles.

‘He was calm and composed and I feel can become important to this club.

‘Even off the field he is a top lad in the dressing room and I am always very happy to have people like that around.

‘He brings some positive energy into the club and is also very, very versatile, which is what we need because it is a long, long season.

‘It’s just the start now, and it’s a long, long season so we need everybody, particularly good lads like Coops around here.’

Pompey had eyed Cooper several times during the summer.

But he only rejoined last week.

He was one of many free agents left without a club going into September.

And Ertl believes it is becoming increasingly harder for such players to get back into the game.

‘It’s really difficult nowadays. If you look at the situation, so many players are free agents. I have never, ever seen it before in football in general,’ said Ertl.

‘It has changed completely. When you see so many players out of contract it is unbelievable, seriously.

‘A lot of players don’t have a plan B and all of a sudden can’t play football any more, but I am really pleased Coops is back with us.’