David Healy has every confidence that Linfield cup final hero Joel Cooper can rediscover form that earned him England move

Joel Cooper was one of Linfield’s BetMcLean Cup final heroes on Sunday after netting the opening goal against Coleraine and manager David Healy is confident the forward can rediscover his top form that earned him a move to England.
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After impressing for both Glenavon and the Blues in the Danske Bank Premiership, Cooper earned a transfer to Sky Bet League One club Oxford United in July 2020.

Despite scoring twice and providing two assists in 503 minutes of game time over the course of 11 appearances, the winger wasn’t able to nail down a spot in Karl Robinson’s squad and returned to Windsor Park on-loan six months later.

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He returned to Oxford and spent a further loan period with Port Vale before re-joining Linfield on a permanent basis last summer, where he has scored 12 times in all competitions.

Joel Cooper celebrates winning the BetMcLean CupJoel Cooper celebrates winning the BetMcLean Cup
Joel Cooper celebrates winning the BetMcLean Cup

The most important of those was undoubtedly the breakthrough goal against the Bannsiders in the weekend’s showpiece decider and Healy is confident 27-year-old Cooper – who also received a call-up to the senior Northern Ireland squad under Ian Baraclough in August 2020 – can rediscover the magic.

"Joel has incredible ability and got the move to England off the back of not just three or six months, but a really good solid spell of basically 18 months of being one of the top players in this country,” he said.

“Like anything, when you move to a bigger job somewhere else sometimes when it doesn't work out you can be scarred by it mentally and physically so it has taken Joel a little bit of time to adapt from the disappointment.

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"He tries, is desperate and takes everything to heart at times but that to me is a good thing because he cares and still wants to get to the player he was.

"He is still a little short of that but has the hunger and mentality that he wants to get back to the player he was before he went to Oxford.

"We've probably been on the end of big moments against us too many times this year but when it mattered the two lads (goal scorers Cooper and Chris Shields) stepped up with the chances we got and were clinical."