Ward is someone for younger managers to look up to – Howarth
Neil Howarth says that Bristol Rovers' new boss John Ward is a great role model for bosses across the Football League.
Cheltenham assistant boss Howarth and manager Mark Yates will pit their wits against the former Robins supremo at the Abbey Business Stadium this afternoon.
Ward has returned for a second reign at Rovers, succeeding Mark McGhee, who was sacked after a 4-1 League Two defeat at York City on December 15.
His first match back at the helm was a 2-2 draw at Aldershot and the man who guided Cheltenham to promotion in 2006 has a major job on his hands, with Rovers bottom of League Two.
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Vastly-experienced Ward, 61, has a proven record in the bottom two divisions, having taken Bristol City into the Championship, as well as leaving York on course for promotion before he joined Rovers for his first spell in 1993.
He has worked at Carlisle and Colchester since leaving Whaddon Road in 2007.
Yates and Howarth celebrated the third anniversary of their first match in charge of third-placed Cheltenham on Boxing Day with a 4-0 home win over Wycombe Wanderers and they are bidding to follow in Ward's footsteps by taking the Whaddon Road club into League One.
"John's record here at Cheltenham was brilliant and, although I never worked for him, I have met him on several occasions and he seems like a really great chap," Howarth said.
"Mark and I have a lot to learn still, people like John Ward are good to look up to.
"We are pleased with the way things are going, but there is still a lot of work to do."
Howarth is expecting a difficult match this afternoon, despite Rovers' lowly position and he said he fully expects Ward to lift them away from the foot of the table.
"They have regrouped and they will be ready to go," he said. "They are bottom, but I can't see them being there at the end of the season because they have a lot of talent in the squad.
"They have someone in charge now who I am sure can get the best out of those players."
Cheltenham are likely to be unchanged, with Sido Jombati fit despite being withdrawn in the second half against Wycombe with soreness after a double hernia operation.
That will mean Darryl Duffy and Jeff Goulding up front together in a 4-4-2 formation, with Cheltenham bidding to extend their unbeaten home record to ten league matches.