Steve Cooper says he’s delighted with Paul Arriola’s progress, but admits the US winger is not yet ready for a place in his starting XI at Swansea City.
Arriola has only made two league appearances for the Swans since arriving on loan from DC United in January, both off the bench, but is clearly in Cooper’s plans for the coming weeks.
The player himself is clearly keen to make his way into the team’s first image, recently admitting he has no intention of just making up the numbers and is determined to play a big role in the promotion. from Swansea.
But despite heavy defeats at the hands of Huddersfield Town and Bristol City, prompting questions about the fatigue of Cooper’s squad, it looks like the American is still making progress.
However, Cooper insists he’s thrilled with the 26-year-old’s attitude and progress on the training ground, and has suggested that a place in his starting XI might not be too far away.
“You hope every player has their minds that they’re not here to do the numbers,” Cooper said.
“It’s a little different with Paul because he’s straight from an offseason.
“He’s had about a week with the national team, but it’s not often that you only have a few weeks of training and then start to start games in your national campaign.
“So like we did with Jordan [Morris]. We have a separate program running to try to upgrade it. It’s probably not the ideal thing at this point in the season, but that’s where we are.
“But we know he’s a really good player. He’s a good guy and as soon as we think he’s available to start games and he’s training pretty well and making an impact, there may be departures in the future. “
Arriola was one of two MLS imports to team up with the Swans in January, joining Seattle Sounders winger Jordan Morris in South Wales.
Morris, of course, saw his stint in SA1 end cruelly with an ACL injury in that loss to Huddersfield, and has since returned across the Atlantic to his parent club, where he was hosted yesterday. by some of his teammates on the return of the Sounders. in pre-season training.
“It was great to see him with his teammates; it adds a good atmosphere to the workout. said head coach Brian Schmetzer. “It’s an unfortunate injury for one of our best players.
The outpouring of support shown by his teammates is a testament to Morris’s popularity in apparel, as well as his ability on the pitch, and that presence may well be lacking in West Wales.
Indeed, in an ideal world, his American teammate Arriola would surely have preferred Morris to stay and help him settle in Liberty Stadium.
But Cooper insists there are no concerns about his progress so far, and says he’s been struck by the American’s pace of work on the training ground.
“They are big boys,” he continued. “They’re not kids. They’re settled down with their families and things like that, so I’m sure they didn’t need each other too much to settle down. Maybe they did. they would have preferred the other to be here, but it is not.
“But the life of a footballer now, especially an international footballer, is that you are always on the move and you are always with different people, different locker rooms and you have to make sure that your personality takes the lead. on it and you settle in.
“Like I said. Paul is a good guy. He trains well, trains hard and he really tries to buy in and understand how we work and what we do.
“He’s doing his best to get up to speed.”