Captain Cooper leads from the front

Caitlin Cooper’s career has come on leaps and bounds in the past couple of years, and now she hopes to secure another milestone – a semi-final spot with Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers have never reached the play-offs with a best-ever finish of sixth across their four seasons in the Westfield W-League. It is something Wanderers’ captain Cooper is keen to change.

While they have lost their opening two matches – 4-2 against Perth Glory and 2-0 against Sydney FC – there are plenty of promising signs for a new-look squad that will take some to find cohesion.

Much interest will focus on the form of their new American quartet for Sunday’s first home game of the campaign against Adelaide United at Marconi Stadium.

“(Coach) Rich (Byrne) did an awesome job bringing in the international players, and we are looking quite strong,” Cooper said in reference to the arrival of Katie Stengel, Paige Nielsen, Alexis Arlitt and Kendall Fletcher.

Now 28, Cooper has enjoyed a boom period in her career, and has recently earned regular Westfield Matildas selection, including the Rio Olympics.

The national team call came despite an injury-marred campaign with the Wanderers last season. Now Cooper is looking to lead from the front at club level.

“It seems quite strange being one of the senior players now, but I love leading the girls and hopefully we can shake things up this season,” Cooper said. “The Wanderers have perhaps always been an easy beat and we want to shake things up this year.

“The club has put a lot more focus on the women, and it is a great, we are getting a lot more exposure. We want to repay the club in terms of what they have done in the off-season and hopefully we can do it this season (make the play-offs).”