The Forest Green Rovers tribute to Carl Winchester that will encourage Sunderland fans
Forest Green Rovers boss Mark Cooper says Sunderland have signed a ‘Championship ability’ player in Carl Winchester.
The midfielder has signed an initial two-and-a-half year deal to become the first signing of the Lee Johnson era.
Winchester made over 100 appearances for Forest Green over a two-and-a-half season spell, becoming captain and a crucial part of the side pushing for League Two promotion in the early stages of this season.
Cooper says the Black Cats have signed a ‘fantastic player’ with ‘real quality’.
"Carl has been fantastic for us during his time at the club and I have gone on record saying he is a Championship ability player,” he said.
"He was out of contract in the summer and of course we wanted to keep him. But, once you hear that Sunderland are interested, with all that it brings, how can you not let that happen."
"It's another player that we've managed to sell on - and we wish him well. Let's hope it's not long before he's playing in front of 40,000 supporters at the Stadium of Light.
"Carl is a quiet leader. He leads by example and from the very moment he arrived at Forest Green, you could tell he was a player with real quality. This all came out of the blue, but we wish him nothing but the best."
Lee Johnson is now set to turn his attention to other areas of the pitch, with strengthening his forward options likely to be the focus.
After a frustrating 1-1 draw with Hull City, the Sunderland head coach said he needed a ‘different dynamic’ in one area of the pitch.
"I think we need a change of dynamic in a certain area of the pitch, although I don’t want to go into it any further,” Johnson said.
"That will be the bit that will be most difficult for us – because of financial headroom that we have or haven’t got, or might have to create, and also because of the backlog of various injuries that we’ve got. For me, that one will be important.
"We’ve got lists on lists on lists, but they’ve got to be available, accessible, affordable and match fit, otherwise what’s the point in signing them?”