Bristol Rovers hero targets League One transfer after Hearts exit

A Bristol Rovers centurion is targeting a move back to England after going on trial at a League One club.
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Michael Smith could be set for a reunion with Bristol Rovers after undergoing a trial at one of their League One rivals.

Experienced defender Smith was a player at the Memorial Stadium from 2011 to 2014, and made 114 appearances for the club, scoring two goals. The 34-year-old who was signed from Ballymena United when Paul Buckle was in charge, won the Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

He is currently trying to earn a deal at nearby rivals Cheltenham Town after becoming a free agent following his exit from Scottish Premiership club Hearts and now a return to England could be on the cards having spent a chunk of his career in the English system. He was a Hearts player for six seasons and made 202 appearances in total, winning the Scottish Championship in 2021, and being a three-time Scottish Cup winner.

Smith made his return to Bristol on Tuesday, having played as a trialist against Bristol City in their 1-1 draw at Whaddon Road, in which he played alongside Liam Sercombe. He came off the bench, and it was revealed by Robins hero Wade Elliott that he is currently training with Cheltenham, though there is no guarantee of a deal.

Elliott said to GloucestershireLive: “Michael is local and he was looking for somewhere to come in a train and it fitted in with us. In fairness, for someone who hasn't had any minutes, I thought he managed himself really well.

“It'll be ongoing. He's only been in for two days, match prep and then he played. He's a good character, so if it works for Michael and for us, we'll monitor as it goes.”

Should Smith be successful in securing a move to Cheltenham, then he will have at least three opportunities to line up against Bristol Rovers, as well as a home and away match against his other former team Peterborough United. Rovers have Cheltenham in their EFL Tropy group which begins on Tuesday, September 5 at the Mem, and then in League One, Rovers are at home against the Robins on Saturday, December 9 before the reverse fixture on Saturday, April 13.