Vale boss Ribeiro laments set-piece defending in Cobblers defeat as he issues Hooper update

Bruno Ribeiro on the touchline at Vale Park. Picture by Sharon Lucey
Bruno Ribeiro on the touchline at Vale Park. Picture by Sharon Lucey
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Port Vale boss Bruno Ribeiro has suggested he intends to keep JJ Hooper at the club once the striker returns from his loan spell at Northampton on January 7.

Hooper is currently back at Vale where he’s receiving treatment for a thigh injury sustained in Northampton’s defeat to Gillingham last month.

The 23-year-old has impressed in glimpses at the Cobblers having joined on a sixth-month loan deal but he’s struggled for consistency, and with a raft of injuries, Ribeiro is likely to need him for Vale when his loan period ends.

“He’s a Port Vale player,” said the Valiants boss. “If he was here now he might be playing because we have injuries and don’t have strikers and he’s a good player.

“We’ll see. He’s been injured for the last two weeks so he’s back here at the moment and when he starts training with us we’ll see.

“He finishes his loan on January 7 and after that he can play for us because we need strikers.”

Ribeiro saw his side slump to just a second home defeat of the season on Saturday when Northampton claimed a 3-2 victory after goals from Gabriel Zakuani, Sam Hoskins and Paul Anderson.

The Portuguese manager added: “I thought we played well but it was the set-pieces where we defended badly.

“When we play against strong teams like that with big players, we need more concentration and we train on this every week.

“On Saturday we conceded two goals. After that we needed to take some risks and Jak (Alnwick) was brilliant for us because he made two or three good saves.

“We needed to take risks because we needed to score a goal so we put more strikers on, but I thought the players’ attitude was fantastic and I thought we played well.

“It’s just set-pieces and concentration. If we didn’t concede at set-pieces we would have won the game because we were the better team and we played very good.

“Northampton played long balls and tried to win the second ball but we tried to play. We have young players and they’re still learning.

“Maybe we need to change (at set-pieces) because when you play against big teams like that it’s difficult. We study all teams and maybe next game we’ll change it because we play against another big team.”