STRIKER James Alabi has returned to Stoke City after completing a month-long loan spell at Forest Green.
The 19-year-old made three starts and three substitute appearances for Rovers without finding the net, and manager Ady Pennock has opted against extending his stay from the Premier League outfit.
Alabi's final match in a green shirt came in a 1-0 defeat at Hereford United in the Skrill Premier, a result which sees the men from the New Lawn end 2013 in a disappointing 14th place.
Though frustrated to come away from Edgar Street empty-handed, Pennock feels Rovers fans can look forward to the new year with optimism.
He said: “We were the dominant team and I thought we were on the front foot for most of the game.
“Hereford are a big team and they caused us problems aerially from set plays, but with a little bit more luck in front of goal and a bit more ruthlessness in the final third we could have won the game.
“I don't think we're too far away from being a very good team. We've just got to tinker a little bit.
“The lads have given me their all since I've been here and I can't fault them for that, so we'll move on and look forward to the next game.”
Pennock reserved particular praise for the performances of Kieron Forbes and Steve Brogan at Hereford – two men who have had to bide their time since the appointment of the new boss last month.
Forbes was given a rare start in the unfamiliar position of right-back, covering for the injured Jared Hodgkiss and suspended Eddie Oshodi.
And fellow midfielder Brogan saw his first league action of the season, coming on as a 74th minute substitute and looking lively and incisive.
Pennock said: “Kieron did really well and got cramp towards the end, which is understandable given the lack of games he has had.
“It seemed in the last 10 or 15 minutes the play kept coming down his side, but I was really pleased with him.
“Steve came off the bench, and he is one who has kept his head down in training and has got his chance because of the niggles and suspensions we have.”
Pennock is hopeful Hodgkiss will be fit to return for the trip to Aldershot Town on Wednesday, having picked up a knee injury in the 3-1 victory over the same opponents on Boxing Day.