JAMES NORWOOD has set his sights on climbing the leagues with Forest Green after signing a new contract.
The 22-year-old is now the Blue Square Premier promotion-chasing club’s top scorer on his own with 14 goals after hitting a hat-trick in the 4-1 win over Braintree on Tuesday night and is set to remain at the New Lawn until the end of the 2014/15 season after protracted contract talks finally came to fruition.
Agent speculation linked the former Exeter City speedster to League One sides Swindon, Preston and Doncaster tracking his form during the January transfer window, while Forest Green also dismissed an offer from fellow Blue Square Bet Premier side Luton Town last month.
However, after committing his future to Rovers, Norwood believes they can go all the way by clinching the title this season and then target another promotion from League Two.
He said: “The club is great. It is heading in the right direction. The gaffer (David Hockaday) is confident and Dale (Vince, owner) is confident of us going up. “It is always going to be tough in this league. It is the hardest one to get out of. “Once we do that we can look to go forward and up another league. All we can do is just keep winning because we’ve had a couple of draws now and we knew we needed three points.
“There is no way we are not going to be in the play-offs. But we are looking to win the league no doubt. “We’ve got the players to do it, we’ve got the staff to do it, and with Dale’s backing there’s no reason why we shouldn’t.”
Norwood joined Forest Green permanently in June 2011 for his second spell with the club after a previous loan spell in the 2010-11 season, but has become a key player this campaign as one of the wide men in a front three – a role where he now feels comfortable in.
His treble against Braintree was his second since the turn of the year following his exploits in the 5-0 win at Newport on New Year’s Day, but he was keen to pay tribute to his team-mates.
“It was a great team performance. That is what has pleased us the most,” said Norwood.
“In the first half an hour they couldn’t live with us. If we can play like that for 90 minutes then no one can.
“The strength of the team has improved from last year and it allows me to stay higher up the pitch and to not work as hard as I was last year in terms of defending. I’m fresher when I get through on goal and I am a lot more composed now.”