It will take a lot of effort for Forest to return to their glory years, but they are constantly taking steps forward with their recruitment strategy. Last years mediocre mid table finish was by no means a fan pleaser, but had foundations of a solid squad. Stuart Pearce was dismissed before his Forest return had really begun. But the question has to be asked. Was the appointment of the former Reds captain just a plot to bring the fans back to the City Ground?
If Forest really do want to make their first top 6 finish in 5 years, then bringing in a proven goal scorer will be a pivotal addition. Plenty of names have flown around the local media, but thus far no has been drafted in to replace the injury stricken Britt Assombalonga. The Congolese forward had began life at the City Ground so well. 8 goals in his opening 7 games in fact. The fans adored him, 2 goals against fierce rivals Derby County only increased his reputation. But in the 67th minute of the home match against Wigan Athletic, disaster struck, a knee ligament injury that would keep him out for up to 12 months. Assombalonga, who had made the multi-million pound move from Peterborough in the summer, is now expected to return to action in February, leaving Dougie Freedman with frail striking options.
Dexter Blackstock re-adorned himself to fans following the lucky break that allowed him to shove way back into the managers plans, the Antigua and Barbuda international was used sparingly prior to Assombalonga’s injury but now has the opportunity to reignite his Forest career. He offers a strong physical presence and a mountain of experience on the battlefront, but in a recent friendly against Aston Villa looked isolated on the front line. With bids flying in from all directions for sensational winger Michail Antonio, Freedman may be thin on attacking talent.
Antonio is not the only name subject to interest from Championship rivals. Skipper Henri Lansbury has been the name on many of Burnley’s fans lips. The ex Arsenal trainee didn’t exactly sparkle in last seasons disappointment of a campaign. But if he knuckle’s down, i am sure that he can steer to the club in the right direction. The expectation placed Lansbury’s shoulders could be an impetuous for him to push on and prove the doubters wrong. That he can lead Forest to the right end of the division.
The departure of Carl Darlow will hit hard in the goalkeeping department, but in Dorus De Vries they have a man that has done it all before. He was a key player in Swansea City’s promotion campaign of 2010/11, while playing under Brendan Rodgers. Many fans saw the decision to depart the Liberty as a strange one, his place was all but nailed down and he seemed to be enjoying his football. At the age of 34, he now finds himself in the latter stages of his career with just 4 Premier League appearances his name. Many will say the Dutchman has not reached his potential. But he still has time yet.
Forest have never had a scintillating defensive record, even with Kelvin Wilson and Wes Morgan marshaling the backline in 2010/11 50 goals were conceded. Wilson returned from a brief stint with Scottish champions Celtic in 2013, and will now line up at the heart of the Reds defence with new arrival Matt Mills. These two will be fundamental in the teams success, as scoring may become a problem with Assombalonga on the treatment table.