FOREST GREEN boss Mark Cooper has championed the “fantastic signing” of Kevin Dawson from arch-rivals Cheltenham Town.

Irish midfielder Dawson has joined Rovers after turning down a contract with Cheltenham.

The 29-year-old, free agent, has signed on an initial one-year deal at The New Lawn and joined up with the team for the first day of training today.

Irishman Dawson spent two years at Cheltenham after moving from Yeovil Town where he played a full season during their campaign in the Championship under Gary Johnson.

“When we found out he was available, he was one we wanted to try and add to our midfield department,” said Cooper.

“He has a great energy, is technically good and can score goals. It add to what we’ve got with him, Winchester, Adams and Morton, we’ve got a real good group of midfield players there, which is where we like to be strong.

“It’s a fantastic signing for us.”

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Dawson becomes the club’s sixth signing of the summer and was drawn to the club by the ambition on and off the pitch.

Dawson added: “I had a few offers but when Forest Green made contact I said to my agent that I was desperate to make that happen.

“Seeing how they finished last year, I’m hoping they can go one better this year and I hope to be part of that.

“I’m looking forward to improving under the manager as well. He has improved a lot of players over the years and I hope to be another one.

“I’m delighted to get the deal sorted before the start of pre-season and now I’m looking to hit the ground running.

“I’d like to think we’d kick on again.”

Born in Dublin, Dawson spent the early part of his career in Ireland, playing for Sporting Fingal and Shelbourne in the League of Ireland.

In January 2013, he joined Yeovil Town at the end of his contract with Shelbourne and was part of Gary Johnson’s side that gained promotion through the play-offs to the Championship.

He signed a new two-year deal that summer and went on to make play the full season in the Championship.

In 2017, Dawson moved to Cheltenham on a two-year deal after turning down an contract extension at Huish Park.

Despite an injury at the start of his first season, he made 54 League Two starts and scored nine times from midfield.