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Brandon Cooper hoping to follow in footsteps of Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon

Brandon Cooper hoping to follow in footsteps of Ben Cabango, Joe Rodon
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The 20-year-old Swansea defender hopes to follow in the footsteps of Ben Cabango and Joe Rodon for club and country.

Wales Under-21 defender Brandon Cooper is determined to put his penalty shoot-out agony against Newcastle behind him and follow the senior path of Swansea stars Ben Cabango and Joe Rodon.

Cooper suffered penalty misery before a TV audience last week when his wild spot-kick denied Sky Bet League Two Newport the chance of claiming a famous Carabao Cup scalp at Rodney Parade.

But the on-loan centre-back, who produced a brilliant display to snuff out Andy Carroll, Callum Wilson and Joelinton, has promised he will not shy away from taking penalties in the future.

Newport County v Newcastle United – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Rodney Parade
Newport's Brandon Cooper sends his penalty in the Carabao Cup shoot-out against Newcastle over the crossbar (Alex Pantling/PA)

"The boss (Michael Flynn) rang me after the game and joked that I might have got a fine for losing a football," Cooper said ahead of Wales' UEFA U21 Championship qualifier in Belgium on Friday.

"Maybe people think centre-halves are not going to take a penalty, but I'm confident in myself and I'd take one again. It just happens that people miss them.

"I was thinking to hit it as hard as I could and keep it towards the right. But I cut across the ball a little too much and it went over the bar.

"I couldn't be more proud with the game. To take a Premier League side to penalties was a massive achievement and to play against those players was a bit surreal.

Newport County v Newcastle United – Carabao Cup – Fourth Round – Rodney Parade
Newcastle defender Federico Fernandez, second left, comforts Cooper after his Carabao Cup spot-kick miss (Nick Potts/PA)

"Andy Carroll is a hard player to play against, but I think we did well against him."

Cooper was consoled after Newcastle's 5-4 penalty shoot-out win – the game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes with Jonjo Shelvey scoring a late leveller for the Premier League visitors – by his former Swansea team-mate Federico Fernandez.

The Argentina defender made a point of going straight up to the 20-year-old and offering words of comfort.

"He was the first player to come up to me and said 'Anyone can miss a penalty'," Cooper added.

Brighton and Hove Albion v Newcastle United – Premier League – Amex Stadium
Newcastle striker Andy Carroll made little impact against Newport in the Carabao Cup (Glyn Kirk/NMC Pool)

"He said I played great and gave me his shirt after the game. It was really nice from Fede to be there for me at that moment.

"Whenever I trained with the first-team at Swansea he was always there to help and teach you.

"I actually played with him in an Under-23s game once and learned a lot from him. He remembered that game when we spoke."

Cooper has made eight appearances with unbeaten Newport setting the early pace in League Two.

Swansea City v Leeds United – Sky Bet Championship – Liberty Stadium
Swansea's Wales defender Joe Rodon, left, has blazed a trail that Brandon Cooper hopes to follow (David Davies/PA)

The Porthcawl-born product feels his decision to go out on loan for senior football has already paid off and now he hopes to emulate Cabango and Rodon – a transfer target for Tottenham and West Ham – in playing for Swansea and Wales.

"The focus is to keep improving every game, stay in the team at Newport and see where that takes me," Cooper said.

"I've played with Ben and Joe for years and Swansea has produced some good centre-halves. Hopefully I can be the next one to take that step."

Wales need to repeat their home victory over Group Nine leaders Belgium in Leuven to maintain hopes of qualifying for next year's finals in Hungary and Slovenia.

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