Forest Green Rovers Hoping Experience Will Fire Them Back into League Two

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Forest Green Rovers manager Steve Cotterill has signalled his intent to guide the club back into League Two by adding three vastly experienced players to his squad.

Liam Sercombe and Sean Long have been snapped up from Cheltenham Town, while Ben Tozer is joining the club after a successful spell with Wrexham.

Cotterill, who has five promotions on his CV, is eager to lead Rovers out of the National League at the first attempt after failing to keep them up last season.

He was appointed on January 25, but was unable to stop them sliding out of the league despite improving their results over the final few months.

The 59-year-old has remained in charge at The New Lawn and has moved swiftly to sign several experienced players to lead the club’s promotion charge next season.

Sercombe Hungry for Success

Sercombe is noteworthy addition to the ranks having racked up 579 league appearances for Exeter City, Oxford United, Bristol Rovers and Cheltenham.

“I had a really good four years at Cheltenham, but I feel like it’s the right time to turn down the contract offered and find a new challenge,” Sercombe said.

“I had really good conversations with the Gaffer about what he wants to do this season and what he wants from me. It’s an ambitious club – now with Steve in control and the career he’s had, I’m excited to learn from him. I feel this is the perfect fit for me.

“It excites me to try and get Forest Green back to the Football League. I’m as hungry as ever and I want to be in a winning side to get that promotion.”

Long Ready for a New Challenge

Sercombe will be joined by a familiar face at Rovers, with Long also switching Cheltenham for Forest Green this summer.

The former Republic of Ireland U21 international has made 226 EFL appearances, the bulk of which were for the Robins. He was their captain for the last two years.

The Dublin-born defender’s signing is a statement of intent by Rovers and will likely attract some interest among sports bettors in his homeland.

Forest Green will attract plenty of interest in the outright betting market to win the National League and popular Irish betting sites may need to tweak their odds following Long’s arrival.

The Irishman’s comments after joining the club should give bettors plenty of confidence about Forest Green’s chances of winning promotion this season.

“I’ve had six unbelievable years at Cheltenham – some really good people as well as making some great memories,” Long said. “I want to thank them and wish them all the best.

“It was a privilege to captain the club and I’d like to thank the fans for their support during my time. We achieved some great things but I’m at the stage where it’s time for a new challenge.

“I had some really good discussions with the gaffer and everything he said was something I want to get involved in.

“He made things clear on what he wants to do and the kind of player he wants to bring in. It’s a really exciting the challenge and a great opportunity to bounce back.”

Tozer Eyeing Another Promotion

The club’s third summer signing is arguably even bigger news given the part he played in helping Wrexham claim back-to-back promotions from the National League to League One.

Tozer was Cheltenham’s captain when they won the 2020/21 League Two title, but left the club to join Wrexham. After helping them reach the third tier, he has stepped back into the National League.

“Getting promoted back-to-back was incredible and it was amazing to be a part of the club during that time,” Tozer said.

“I gained a lot of experience playing a good chunk of games for Wrexham and learned a lot while supporting the younger players from the sidelines.

“I want a successful season on the pitch – as a player and for the club. Everyone knows that promotion out of the National League is difficult. We’ve got to work hard and I’m looking forward to getting get stuck in.”

Forest Green have further strengthened their squad by signing Tom Knowles following the expiry of his contract with Walsall.

The 25-year-old made 92 appearances for the League Two outfit after joining them in 2022. He previously played for several other clubs including Yeovil Town and Cambridge United.

Capable of playing in midfield and attack, Knowles will bring some much-needed versatility to Forest Green’s attacking options next season.

By Bob