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Cooperative routing has been shown to be an effective technique to improve the throughput/delay performance of multi-hop wireless ad hoc networks. In addition, suitable cooperation selection policies also allow for a reduction of the overall energy expenditure. In a previous study, we proposed a centralized algorithm to obtain optimal cooperation selection policies in multi-hop networks with the aim of minimizing a linear combination of energy and delay costs. In this paper, we look at this problem from a different angle, devising three online and fully distributed algorithms which only exploit local interactions for the selection of the cooperators. The first technique selects at each hop a fixed number of nodes having the minimum distance with respect to the destination. The second one adopts a look-ahead strategy, which selects a fixed number of nodes at each hop, according to their expected advancement toward the destination. The third technique utilizes a more refined look-ahead strategy, which dynamically adjusts the number of nodes that cooperate at each hop. Numerical results are thus presented for the proposed techniques, comparing them against the optimal centralized strategy and competing algorithms from the literature. These results indicate that our techniques improve upon existing distributed approaches and achieve close-to-optimal performance.