Forest Green boss Rob Edwards insists Swindon Town will still pose a threat despite missing five frontline players when the two in-form west-country rivals go toe-to-toe on Saturday lunchtime.
Garner’s side is set to be missing Kaine Kesler-Hayden, Jonny Williams, Anthony Grant, Alex Gilbert, and former Forest Green loanee goalkeeper Jojo Wollacott for the noon kick-off.
Rovers will be without Ebou Adams after his call-up to the Gambia squad, with Jack Aitchison expected to slot in.
Edwards said: “I know we’re only missing one player (Ebou Adams) and they’re missing five, but they still have a very good group who will provide a very tough test. You can use the examples against Bristol City and Brentford. We made six changes against Brentford and we competed against a really good team, I know it’s not the same thing and I’m not trying to compare the two. Swindon have got some very good players who can come into the fold. It’ll be a good game.
Garner’s side are on the coat-tails of table-topping Rovers and sit fifth following a superb victory over rivals Bristol Rovers last weekend, extending their unbeaten run to three games.
Lauded for their possession-based football instigated by former Forest Green assistant manager Scott Lindsey, who returns to the Fully Charged New Lawn for the first time since his departure.
When asked, Edwards admitted he was looking forward to meeting Lindsey, who found a place in the hearts of Rovers’ fans during his tenure under Mark Cooper.
Edwards said: “Everybody speaks very highly of him and I know he’s a very good coach. Ben, Scott, and all of the staff have done a very impressive job so far. It will be good to catch-up with them before and after the game because our paths haven’t crossed before.”
And Edwards is fully aware his side will have to be on their mettle to get a foothold in the game.
“They’re good with the ball and they’ve got a good way about them,” said Edwards. “They have good players who can handle the football so we need to be ready for that. We need to be good without the ball. We need to play our game and we need to be aggressive. We need to play Forest Green’s way and that’s what we’ll try and do. We’ll respect them and we’ve worked on them and looked at their strengths, but we know ways in which we can hurt them as well. It’ll be a good tactical battle as well as a good spectacle.”
With just one defeat from the opening 10 league games, Edwards remains in managerial dreamland, but the new man at the helm wants more from his side.
He added: “I could have asked for not losing against Port Vale, but that’s being picky. The lads have been absolutely fantastic and really consistent. They’ve given everything. When you look at the stats behind the wins, we’ve deserved to win them based on chances created, goals scored, and everything else. The lads have been terrific and deserve to be where they currently are, but it’s 10 games and it doesn’t mean anything yet. We have to keep working hard.”
Five successive shutouts will make Rovers a tough nut to crack and Edwards was quick to heap praise on goalkeeper Luke McGee, who pulled off a sublime safe in the 2-0 victory at Carlisle last time out.
“It was a great save he made at Carlisle and a really important one too. We’ve been really pleased with him. He’s another one who has been really consistent. He’s benefitting from having a consistent way of doing things. We’ve been delighted with him and Tommo (Lewis Thomas) is outstanding on a daily basis and pushing him all the way. They get on well but they’re very competitive as well and that makes them both better. Both goalkeepers have been great.”