STILL feeling the hurt from Forest Green’s play-off semi-final heartache, boss Mark Cooper insists he will foster this bitter emotion to drive his side on next season.

After the agony of a two-legged semi-final defeat to arch-rivals Tranmere, Cooper revealed he couldn’t bring himself to watch the final at Wembley, which saw Micky Mellon’s side achieve promotion to League One.

He said: I haven’t’ got over the disappointment and I don’t think I ever will - it hurt, but that has to drive us on.”

With the likes of Bradford City, Plymouth, Scunthorpe and Walsall dropping into League Two and big-spending Salford City and Leyton Orient coming up from the National League, Cooper predicts a testing 2019/20 season.

He added: “We want to go one step further next year, it’s going to be tough, you look at the teams coming into the league – some big teams in terms of finance and history - and this has only made the league stronger.

"I think, probably 15 or 16 teams are realistically fighting for seven places, so we’ve got to make sure we’re in the shake-up.”

With season-by-season momentum, Cooper wants his side to kick-on after finishing fifth in their second season in the EFL and he believes progress could allow his side to go one step further.

“We were five points short in the end,” said Cooper. “I look back at the Crewe game and we had automatic promotion in our grasp - although we didn’t’ know it at the time.

“Yes, we did well - we did fine, but you win or lose and we lost, so I want to win next year, but it will be tough and for us to progress means we will probably get promoted.”