James Norwood signs new Forest Green Rovers deal
FORWARD James Norwood has signed a new long-term contract at Forest Green.
Rovers' joint top scorer this season with 11 goals, the former Exeter City man has penned a deal that runs until the end of the 2014/15 campaign.
The 22-year-old had been due to become a free agent this summer, but he can now focus all his attentions on a Blue Square Bet Premier promotion mission that continues with the visit of Braintree Town to the New Lawn this evening (7.45pm).
Back-to-back draws against title hopefuls Wrexham and Luton Town have kept Rovers in the play-offs mix, but victory is probably essential tonight to retain any hope of automatic promotion.
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They served up comfortably their worst performance of the campaign to lose 3-1 in Essex in December, a night manager Dave Hockaday would dearly love to erase from history.
He said: "We didn't play well at Braintree, but that's gone.
"We got back to 2-1, they had a man sent off and we looked like we were going to get something – whether we deserved it or not.
"What's important now is getting three points after getting two points against Wrexham and Luton.
"Overall that was probably a fair return, although I felt against Wrexham we could easily have won it.
"It's important now that we start winning, and we've got a little run of home games to try and pick up some wins."
Midfield duo Kieron Forbes and Jamie Collins could both return to the squad tonight, a timely boost with Al Bangura suspended following his red card at Kenilworth Road.
Aarran Racine (hand) and Ben Wright (knee) remain sidelined but striker Reece Styche is likely to be play some part, although his knee injury will continue to be monitored.
At the back, Dale Bennett is pushing for inclusion after making an impressive debut as a substitute against Luton.
Signed from Watford last month, he replaced Eddie Oshodi in the 75th minute and coped impressively with a pacy Hatters frontline that included Stuart Fleetwood.
Hockaday said: "I know we've got great defenders here, but when Dale (Vince) became available I told the chairman he was somebody we had to get.
"He's quick, he's strong. he's aggressive and he likes to tackle – as well as being strong in the air.
"I just felt the one thing we were needing towards the end (at Luton) was pace to burn, with Eddie looking a bit tired, and Dale was a real leader."
Alan Devonshire's Braintree were beaten 2-0 at home by Hereford United at the weekend, but the part-timers have a six-point buffer above the drop zone and won in Nailsworth last season.