NEALE Cooper admits an arm around his shoulder and keeping a smile on his face has brought the best out of Evan Horwood.

The left-back has been on top form of late, following up his man of the match display in the home defeat by Sheffield United with an equally mature performance at Colchester on Good Friday.

He created Pools' goal in Essex, crossing for Antony Sweeney to head home.

Cooper said: "Evan is a topper isn't he?

"A funny lad, we keep him amused and he is happy. He's a one-off and a great lad to work with.

"His marauding runs forward were excellent on Friday and he was very good on the left with Andy Monkhouse. Keep him a happy boy. He's a pleasure to work with and one you never see down.

"He gives you a lot of good things. He likes an arm around him.''

Cooper is ready to pair up Ryan Noble with Luke James and change to a 4-4-2 formation for this afternoon's visit of Brentford to Victoria Park.

The visitors have won their last five to make a bid for a play-off place.

With goals scarce at Victoria Park for Pools - they have only 18 in 20 League One games - Cooper is desperate to send supporters home happy this evening.

"There may be changes in the way we play at home.

"We don't want to overplay Luke, so he could come in,'' said Cooper after James made a late appearance from the bench last time out.

"He could play up there with Ryan.

"Ryan knows himself he has to do better and Luke came on at the end and was positive.

"Maybe we could change the shape at home. Paul Murray played 90 minutes with a sore knee so we will have to look at that.

"Possibly we might change it and have an option with Luke and Ryan. We are in for training on Saturday and we will see how everyone is.

"It's two tough games this weekend, but let's have a go and see what we can do.''