Former Nottingham Forest defender Kenny Burns has made another bold claim about the Reds, as Sabri Lamouchi’s side look to bounce back from the weekend’s defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
The Reds failed to claim an opening day victory over the Baggies in front of their home fans, on a day where chances were hard to come by for the East Midlands side.
Matty Cash initially opened the scoring for the Reds, but two goalkeeping errors from Aro Muric allowed Kyle Edwards and Matt Phillips to find the back of the net, and complete an impressive turnaround for Slaven Bilic’s side.
The Reds pushed forward an equaliser, but they failed to supply Lewis Grabban with any real adequate service, with the striker cutting a frustrated figure up top.
There are now only two days to go until the summer transfer window slams shut, and Forest boss Lamouchi will still be looking to add some fresh faces to his squad before the deadline.
But speaking to the Nottingham Post, Burns has insisted that Forest should look to sell last season’s top goalscorer, and replace him with Newcastle United forward Dwight Gayle.
He said: “If Nottingham Forest are serious in their quest to finish in the Championship’s top six, then they should sell Lewis Grabban and replace him with Dwight Gayle before the transfer window closes on Thursday.
“I watched Grabban’s performance closely on Saturday evening against West Brom and I just felt like he wasn’t interested, it’s a real concern with time running out to change things.
“He moped about, he barely showed any effort and just flopped on the floor hoping to get a free-kick from the referee.”
Here, we take a look at whether Burns’ comments are justified – should Gayle be a target for the Reds, and should Grabban be axed by Lamouchi?
It’s clear to see why Gayle is so highly rated and so highly thought of by pundits, fans and managers in the Championship – he was prolific for Newcastle as they won the Championship title in 2016/17, and was exceptional on loan at West Brom last term.
In 41 appearances, 3184 minutes in total, he scored 24 goals for the Baggies as they were defeated in the play-off semi-finals by eventual winners Aston Villa.
Goals are what make a striker’s stock rise or decline, and in terms of finding the back of the net, Gayle comes out on top in this battle, with Grabban netting 17 times in the same amount of games last term.
What’s different about the two strikers, however, is how their respective managers used them last season. Gayle was used alongside Jay Rodriguez in a front two, whilst Grabban was used mostly as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Gayle, therefore, stayed further forward and had more touches inside the box, and also had more shots than Grabban, perhaps explaining why his shots on target rate was lower than the Reds forward.
Grabban may have had less touches inside the box last season, but his shot on target rate was 5.9% higher than Gayle’s, and he also won 10 more aerial duels due to his strong physical prowess.
Grabban is certainly a player that has divided opinions at the City Ground since his move from AFC Bournemouth last summer. You can probably understand Burns’ frustrations at him looking somewhat disinterested, but Forest have been lacking a prolific forward like himself since the days of Britt Assombalonga.
It is shaping up to be a hectic few days in the transfer market for the Reds, and it will be very interesting to see what happens next for Grabban on Trentside.