BARROW AFC boss Mark Cooper has heaped praise on his predecessor, Rob Kelly.

Kelly saved The Bluebirds from relegation last season and new manager Cooper is looking to add to his ‘good work’.

Cooper said: “Rob Kelly did an unbelievable job here.

“I spoke to him before I came here; he spoke in such glowing terms about the club, and he made me want to do it even more.

“Rob’s experience showed through, and if I can continue that good work then we’ll be all right.”

After leaving Forest Green Rovers in April, Cooper believes his five-year stint at The New Lawn can benefit his new club.

The 52-year-old explained: “I think it can help. There are situations you find yourself in where somebody with experience can navigate through those tough times a little bit better than somebody who’s inexperienced and impulsive. I’m sure I can help with getting the best out of the players.

“The more I look at it – we had a brilliant season at Forest Green, but we lost four key players at a big time, and we didn’t have the strength in depth to recover from that.

“We have to make sure that we have strength in depth and we have enough quality here at Barrow that when we do get injuries we can deal with it.

“The last few weeks for me has been a case of looking at players, and making sure that when I did go back [into management], I knew where I was going to go for the players and try to get them in straight away.”

Cooper will have the chance to assess his players in training and during the five pre-season friendlies currently scheduled.

One of these will see former Barrow boss Ian Evatt bring his newly-promoted Bolton Wanderers side to South Cumbria.

Evatt’s Barrow side were noted for their attractive playing style, being coined as ‘Barrowcelona’ as they gained promotion to the Football League in 2020.

Although he praised Evatt’s philosophy, Cooper is fully focused on his side picking up results.

“First of all you’re governed by the players,” Cooper said.

“I’ve inherited a group of good lads and I’m going to try and add to that.

“In an ideal world you play fantastic football, score lots of goals and win games, but it’s not always like that. You have to find different ways to win.

“Yes, we want to play football – Ian Evatt started a revolution here and we want to carry that on – but it’s more important that we’re progressive and we win games.”

Cooper’s first game in charge of The Bluebirds is at Holker Old Boys on July 10.