Noah Dougherty
Friday 31 May 2019

Mark Cooper sits down with the local media after signing defender Matt Mills on a one-year deal.

The Forest Green Rovers boss gives an insight into how he signed the experienced centre-back, discusses what he has seen of him so far and just how important he could be for the next campaign. 

Mark, how did you first become aware of Matt Mills as a possible signing?

Probably a couple of weeks ago. He came to train with us because his brother (Joseph Mills) asked if Matt could come and train with us. He came in for two or three weeks and he was a really positive influence on the players with his experience and he trained really well.

I had a couple of conversations with him and we discussed the possibility of maybe doing something and trying to get a little bit of experience on the pitch, in and around a young group. That’s something we didn’t really have last year.

He’ll be coming in predominantly as a player, but he’ll start to do some coaching as well which will certainly help us. You look at Farrend Rawson and Nathan McGinley, two promising young defenders, who I am sure can learn off Matt.

Lee Collins has left the club, and so too has Gavin Gunning so there was a real need for an experienced defender.

There was need for a good defender. We’ve signed experienced defenders in the past that have not helped. The key thing was getting to have a look at him for those three weeks. It was perfect because we could look at him and he could have a look at us. I think he really enjoyed being in and around us and what we’re trying to achieve with a young group. I think he can really help the boys going forward, certainly on the pitch and definitely off it and a player/coaching role as well.

With over 300 appearances in the Championship, that experience could be invaluable?

Of course it is. He has an affinity to the area as well, being from Swindon, and with his brother being here. I think it was a big pull for him to play with his brother on the same pitch. It’s a really good signing for us as he could have gone elsewhere for double the money, but I think he wants to start off on his coaching journey, but predominantly he is going to play

It’s another bargain for Forest Green?

We have to concentrate on a different way of doing things, and this time it’s using his younger brother to get him here.

The level Matt will be coaching at, will that be first team, youth team or a mixture?

Across the board. I’ve had When you’ve played to the level Matt has, you have a good understanding of the game and it’s then about how you put those ideas into a coaching session and how you try and get the players to learn from that session. We’ve got some really good young defenders in Shephard, McGinley and Rawson and being a top defender, he’ll understand what he didn’t like in strikers and what can hurt defenders so, he can work with them, he can work in the academy. He’s desperate to get his foot on the ladder.