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Youth over experience in Forest Green contract talks

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: May 05, 2009

Striker Andy Mangan has been offered a new deal by Forest Green Rovers

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FOREST GREEN have offered new contracts to just six members of last season's squad – all aged 22 or under.

In a clear indication of the club's tight financial state, only Mark Preece, Paul Stonehouse, Ben Ashford, Jonathan Smith, Conal Platt and top scorer Andy Mangan have new deals to mull over this summer.

Should any choose to move elsewhere, their age means Rovers would be entitled to 'player development' compensation from the recruiting club.

Manager Jim Harvey will hope there is room in next term's budget for several other current players, most notably defensive duo Darren Jones and Lee Ayres, midfielder Alex Lawless and forward David Brown.

But other more experienced men look certain to bid farewell to the New Lawn, including Lee Fowler and ex-Morecambe duo Ryan Robinson and Adriano Rigoglioso.

A club spokesman said: "Manager Jim Harvey has already met with all the players in his current squad.

"He will be holding further discussions with them over the next few weeks, as to who he wishes to retain or will be able to offer terms to for next season, taking into account the financial position all clubs face at this time."

Rovers have scotched rumours of becoming a part-time outfit in 2009/10, but Harvey may well have to rely increasingly on the club's relationship with Hartpury College.

Students James Baldwin, Paul Casey, Ben Pugh, Jon Else, Marcus Palmer and Russell Courtney were all given a taste of first-team action towards the end of the last campaign, with Ashford, 20, also a college product.

Harvey's squad are due to report back for training on June 29, with the new Blue Square Premier season getting underway on Saturday, August 8.

Stonehouse and Mangan have been named players' player and directors' player of the year respectively.

Left-back Stonehouse became the youngest player in Forest Green's history to appear in 100 games, while Mangan ended the season with 26 league goals – 30 in all competitions – to take the BSP Golden Boot award.

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