MARK Cooper is worried Barrow AFC’s lack of fitness could cost them dear in the first part of the season.

The Bluebirds reached the second round of the Carabao Cup for the first time in 52 years thanks to Dimitri Sea’s stunning overhead kick at Holker Street.

Former Forest Green Rovers chief Cooper made eight new signings during the summer.

Last season's Football League new boys failed to win a league game until the end of October on their return to the fourth tier.

And they will be desperate to avoid a repeat of their early-season form this time around.

Despite picking up his first win since taking the reigns at the Cumbrian club, Cooper groaned: “The only concern for me is the fitness of the players.

“We’re 20 or 25 per cent off where we should be at this point in time and that’s not the players’ fault.

"You could see we made three subs to try and help and then we get another one injured because we’re not conditioned yet.

“It’s a case of this will probably continue to happen and we’ve got to get the players fit in the games.

“I said before that we’re going to have to get fit and we’d be lucky to start the season at about 80 per cent of our maximum.

“That 20 per cent we have to gain in the games. We’re going to pick up a few niggles, which we did today.”

The Bluebirds bounced back from their disappointing opening-day defeat at Stevenage on Saturday.

Cooper named four changes with Festus Arthur coming in for his full debut, whilst former Carlisle United striker Offrande Zanzala came off the bench to make his first appearance for the club.

The hosts had the better chances, but Paul Farman - another summer signing from neighbours Carlisle - produced a couple of superb saves when called upon.

Victory put Cooper’s charges in the hat for the second-round draw which take place live tonight on Sky Sports.

And Cooper was impressed with what he saw from his players in their first home outing of the season.

“I thought we played some really good football at times,” he reflected.

“I thought it was clear to see what we are trying to do. I think we need to try and be a bit more ruthless in and around the penalty area once we get there.

“We want to play and entertain the fans if we can.

“I was pleased that when we needed to defend we defended and I’m pleased with the way we played.

“I thought we were the dominant team until the last ten minutes. I never really felt under too much pressure.”