Mike Cooper on his rise through the ranks to become Plymouth Argyle's No 1

The 20-year-old goalkeeper has been earning praise for his performances at the start of this season

Argyle v Blackpool

Mike Cooper is not 21 until next month but has every chance of being Plymouth Argyle's first choice goalkeeper throughout this season.

Cooper has been with the Pilgrims since he was an under-nine in the academy set-up, and he has always been highly thought of as an exciting prospect.

Now, for the first time, he is getting the opportunity to establish himself as Argyle's regular 'keeper.

Cooper has only enhanced his reputation with his performances in the season-opening wins against Queens Park Rangers (3-2) in the Carabao Cup and Blackpool (1-0) on Saturday.

The respective bosses of QPR and Blackpool, Mark Warburton and Neil Critchley, were both very complimentary about Cooper, who is under contract to Argyle until the summer of 2022.

Argyle manager Ryan Lowe has also predicted that Cooper will make it all the way to the top.

There appears to be every chance of that happening, not only because of his goalkeeping ability but also because of his calm, level-headed demeanour.

That latter quality was evident when he was interviewed by the media after the win against Blackpool when, despite his excellent display between the posts, he was keen to share the credit around for the victory.

Congratulations on your full league debut for Argyle and a clean sheet in a 1-0 win

It's a really good start to the league from the boys following up from the QPR game, which was a good result (a 3-2 Carabao Cup first round victory at Home Park).

I thought the boys showed a lot of grit and resilience and ground out a really good 1-0 win after a good finish from Jephs.

In a lot of games last season Argyle dominated the possession and had most of the chances. It was different against Blackpool wasn't it?

It's a different league, and in recent years the jump from League Two to League One has increased, so you are not going to have your own way all the time, especially against a good team like Blackpool.

You have got to find different ways to win, and as long as you get three points at the end of the day then that's all that matters.

Blackpool had some chances but you made some excellent saves. What did you think of your own performance?

I think I was helped out by the defence massively. They (Blackpool) only got through a couple of times and obviously I had to do my job, like everyone else did on the pitch.

Every time they had the ball in front of us, we had our shape and we gave them no gaps. They just didn't look like getting through and we frustrated them massively. It was a really good team performance.

How satisfying is it for you, at this stage of your career, to know you are Argyle's first choice goalkeeper?

It has been a good start, first QPR and then Blackpool but it's like it was last year. Me and Alex (Palmer) were always fighting for a place.

Whoever trains better and plays better is going to get that place, so it's no different this year.

A good start doesn't mean too much unless you back it up. I'm hoping just to keep the good performances going.

Argyle goalkeeper Mike Cooper makes a catch during the Carabao Cup first round tie against Queens Park Rangers at Home Park on Saturday, September 5, 2020 - Photo: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK(Image: Dave Rowntree/PPAUK)

It has been a great start to the season. You have beaten a Championship in the Carabao Cup and then won your first league game of the season.

We had a good pre-season as well and we felt really together. The team bonding was good away in Scotland.

It has definitely shown in the games and we feel really positive in training. We always feel like we are going to win games of football now and outscore teams.

Keeping clean sheets at the same time is really good for us as well.

Not much seems to faze you as a goalkeeper. How much do you work on the mental side of the game?

The mental side of goalkeeping doesn't come naturally, It's something to work on.

I just think the more games I have played the more experience I have gained. It just gives you more of an insight into how to cope with certain things and be positive with yourself.

I have watched Luke McCormick in the past, and other different types of goalkeepers, and learned a lot from them.

Have you got any goalkeepers at a high level that you look up to, and you learn things from watching them on TV?

I think pretty much in the Prem, to be honest. Since I was about 10, I watch the goals from every game on Match of the Day and just see what the goalkeepers could do.

Every goalkeeper playing in the Prem is just top class - every single one of them.

You are always learning aren't you?. Watching clips, out on the training field. It's a position where you will never stop learning.

I don't think you ever will stop learning in football, to be fair. The game is evolving rapidly all the time.

I just try and pick up new things all the time, learn a lot from the defenders and just put it into practice in the games, and hopefully build on it.

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It has been some rise for you, coming through the ranks and now in the first team in League One. How do you cope with that? It has been quite rapid.

It's the old cliche, you just take every game as it comes, work as hard as you can in training and hopefully it all pays off for you really.

It has been 11 years since I started at the academy and it feels good to start reaping the rewards of all the hard work. Hopefully, just keep going.

You can see there is a togetherness in the side with the way you defended, and you have got those guys in front of you helping you with your game as well.

Yeah, massively. The new lads that have come in, they have all really adapted to the way the Gaffer (Ryan Lowe) wants to play.

They have all bought into it, and all great lads. The togetherness shone through (against Blackpool) and I'm sure it will shine through again in games to come.