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'He's a Championship player': Northern Irish midfielder Carl Winchester hailed by his League Two manager

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Carl Winchester has been leading the way despite Forest Green Rovers' recent struggles.

Carl Winchester has been leading the way despite Forest Green Rovers' recent struggles.

Getty Images

Carl Winchester has been leading the way despite Forest Green Rovers' recent struggles.

Carl Winchester has been leading the way despite Forest Green Rovers' recent struggles.

Getty Images

Carl Winchester has been leading the way despite Forest Green Rovers' recent struggles.

His side's recent results may not have been going according to plan but his Northern Irish captain has been in a league of his own, according to Mark Cooper.

The Forest Green Rovers manager has seen his side lose five of their last six League Two games in the last month, slipping to 10th in the table.

However, he has still been full of praise for midfielder and skipper Carl Winchester.

The 26-year-old, the boss says, has been playing two leagues above his level despite the disappointing run of resuts.

“He’s a Championship player and if I was a Championship manager, he’d be one of the first players I would take," Cooper said before Saturday's trip to Oldham.

"He’s a top, top player and should be playing at a much higher level. He’s at least a seven and a half out of ten each week and the dangerous thing for us, he’s started scoring goals and if he adds those goals to his game, he’s a complete midfield player."

Winchester only has one senior cap for Northern Ireland, won way back in May 2011 in a Celtic Cup match against Wales.

But if Cooper's praise is anything to go by, he may yet earn a place in Michael O'Neill's thoughts.

For now, an upturn in results could kickstart Rovers' play-off hopes, still just six points off the mark.

"It's frustrating now for him but I keep saying he just has to keep his own performances right and hope the rest follow. That's what being a leader is," Cooper continued.

"The best way is to lead by example which he does every week. Let's hope that somebody else can grab onto his coat tails and go with him."

Winchester is the twin brother of Ballymena United midfielder Jude.

He has spent most of his career so far playing in League One with Oldham, although dropped down to sign for Cheltenham in January 2017.

Winchester joined Forest Green in summer 2018 and last season helped the club to the play-off semi-final, although was sent off in the second leg as Tranmere progressed.

Belfast Telegraph