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Forest Green: Striker Luke Rodgers joins Rovers

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 01, 2014

By Pete Orchard

Rodgers

Luke Rodgers

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Once Thierry Henry's strike partner in New York, Luke Rodgers has become the latest experienced campaigner to join the Forest Green revolution.

Free agent Rodgers, 32, has joined Rovers on a deal until the end of next season after returning to the UK from Swedish club Hammarby IF.

International clearance was granted too late for the ex-Shrewsbury Town man to appear in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Gateshead, but he will be available for next weekend's clash with Skrill Premier high-fliers Cambridge United and the hectic run-in to the campaign.

Forest Green manager Ady Pennock said: “Luke brings energy and know-how and he can score goals.

“We did need some older hands in the team because I can only shout so much from the sidelines, and we've got that now with Luke, Lee Hughes and Luke Oliver.”

Rodgers' spell alongside France legend Henry at New York Red Bulls in 2011 came after 12 seasons in the Football League with Shrewsbury, Crewe Alexandra, Port Vale, Yeovil Town and Notts County.

He scored 106 goals during that time and is well known to fellow Rovers striker Hughes and assistant manager Dave Kevan, both of whom were colleagues at County.

Rodgers left the Red Bulls in March 2012 after his work visa renewal was denied and transferred to Norwegian club Lillestrøm.

He returned to England with Portsmouth three months later before re-joining Shrewsbury on loan in a deal which became permanent the following January.

The Birmingham-born forward signed for Hammarby in July 2013 and stayed until the end of the calendar year.

Pennock was left frustrated by his side's failure to see off Gateshead, who were reduced to 10 men in the 22nd minute when Marcus Maddison was controversially red carded for a challenge on Dale Bennett.

Another disputed decision went Rovers' way with a quarter of an hour remaining when John Oster was penalised for a shove on James Norwood in the box, and when Hughes converted the resulting spot-kick it looked like settling the contest.

But a defensive lapse in the 89th minute enabled substitute Liam Hatch to equalise and deliver another blow to the visitors' fading play-off hopes.

“We would have taken a point before the game but it was disappointing to concede so late on,” said Pennock.

“I don't think we played that well. We were okay but it was a bitty game and maybe we switched off at the end, which is where we are at the moment.

“Gateshead worked really hard and overall they thoroughly deserved their point.”

Rovers have confirmed that top scorer Norwood has taken up the option of a extending his contract, tying him to the club until the summer of 2015.

Moving in the opposite direction is midfielder Kieron Forbes, who has joined Skrill South outfit Whitehawk on loan until the end of this campaign.

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