SIMON Francis insists the pain of his Nottingham Forest rejection is a distant memory – but admits it stopped him supporting his boyhood heroes.

The Cherries full-back grew up in a Forest-mad family and spent seven years in the youth setup at bitter rivals Notts County from the age of nine.

Francis thought he had earned his dream ticket when offered a trial by the City Ground outfit, but after failing to make the grade he was forced to take a different path into the professional game.

Fresh from signing his new three-year deal with Cherries, the 29-year-old is adamant he wouldn’t change a thing ahead of facing his home town club at Dean Court tonight (7.45pm).

Francis told the Daily Echo: “I went on trial at Forest when I was a kid and they said I wasn’t good enough. From then on I stopped supporting them, which was a little bit bitter of me.

“To be honest, I wasn’t good enough or fit enough at the time. I had a couple of injuries and I played out of position as well.

“Because I was quite big they threw me into central midfield and I didn’t have a clue what was going on. At Notts County I had always played centre-back or right- back.

“I did feel bitter about it at the time but Forest weren’t to blame, it was my own fault.

“If things hadn’t gone like that then I wouldn’t have gone up to Bradford and I wouldn’t have ended up at Bournemouth. Everything happens for a reason.”

Former England under-21s boss and Forest legend Stuart Pearce was handed the managerial reins this summer and has presided over an unbeaten start to the Championship season.

Pearce shone during more than 400 appearances in the East Midlands and Francis argued it had been a wise move to bring back the revered star to his old stomping ground.

Francis added: “I’m sure Stuart Pearce will do well there. He was an excellent player, especially for Forest, and I’m sure he will be looking to instil some of his passion and drive into their players.

“They have big financial backing and are signing some top players but there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to rival these kinds of teams on the pitch.”