DARRELL Clarke has been named as Bristol Rovers’ new first team manager with John Ward taking up the role of director of football.

Ward joined Rovers for his second spell as boss in December 2012 and led them to safety in League One last season, but they are currently only three points above the relegation zone.

Clarke led Salisbury City to two successive promotions through the play-offs to the Conference Premier before leaving to become assistant manager at Rovers last summer.

Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said: “This is something we have had planned for a while, with discussions taking place as far back as last season.

“We believe this is now the right time to make the switch, as we have to plan for next season and try to progress the club forward.

“This gives Darrell time to prepare for the pre-season and think about recruitment for next season.

“Darrell is an enthusiastic and ambitious young man, and he wants to achieve success here.

“We are 100% behind him in his new role, and are confident that he and John will continue to work extremely well together.”