“We have no illusions about our upcoming match” – Forest Green Rovers manager acknowledged as his team prepared to face Stockport County…

We have no illusions; Stockport County is arguably one of the strongest teams – admitted David Horseman, the Forest Green Rovers boss, as he prepared his team for their upcoming match.

Horseman acknowledged that he had engaged in significant introspection leading up to the Stockport County match. His team, the Rovers, were in dire need of a win after suffering four consecutive losses.

If they were to lose the upcoming game, it would mark the first time since January 2018 that they had experienced five consecutive league defeats.

Reflecting on the challenging period, Horseman shared, “I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting over the weekend. Losing, especially when it’s been as disappointing as it has been, keeps you awake at night, but it does give you ample time to ponder.”

However, their challenges do not get any easier in terms of their league position and form, as they face a demanding away fixture against Stockport. Louie Barry, Stockport’s leading scorer, has managed to find the net seven times in his last seven games.

Regarding Stockport, Horseman commented, “They have a substantial budget, talented players, and excellent coaching. They boast two forwards who are currently scoring consistently.

We have no illusions; they are arguably one of the best teams I’ve seen, mainly due to their physicality, speed, and the presence of skilled footballers.”

Stockport is currently in excellent form, having avoided defeat in their last five league matches, including scoring eight goals in their last two outings.

Horseman acknowledged the need for his team to perform exceptionally well to counter Stockport’s strengths but expressed confidence in his squad, stating, “We’ve demonstrated on several occasions this year that we can challenge any opponent, and that’s our objective.”

Despite the recent poor results, Horseman highlighted the positive aspect of key players like Fankaty Dabo, Jacob Maddox, and Callum Morton returning to the team.

“Dabo and Maddox will be on the bench. They haven’t had much training or playing time. I want to clarify this for our supporters because they may wonder why we don’t start them. Well, we tried that with Dabo against Crewe, and he had to come off after just six minutes.

Jacob, who can carry the ball effectively and looked sharp, only trained once because we rushed his return, and he felt a hamstring issue again. As for Callum Morton, he hasn’t had proper training since May.”

Considering the tight schedule with Saturday-Tuesday turnarounds, Horseman explained, “We will conduct match preparation by simulating Stockport’s style of play with one group of players.

We will then practice defending against their threats, and ensure our defensive solidity. Additionally, we will work on enhancing our offensive play and address some training sessions and game reviews.”

Regarding the team’s expectations for the season, Horseman admitted that they did not anticipate promotion, aiming for stability following a difficult relegation from League One.

He shared, “I spoke with individuals in football I greatly respect, who have achieved remarkable managerial success. They advised me to view this season as a starting point, a way to understand where we stand.

At the start of the season, considering our signings and assuming everyone is fit, the bookmakers predicted our ranking between 10th and 19th.

So, what we are achieving is quite in line with industry expectations, given the injuries and setbacks we’ve faced. Initially, I had envisioned a different style of play, but we’ve had to adapt to the circumstances.

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