Nottingham Forest have been exceptional under new boss Steve Cooper so far, winning seven points from a possible nine in his opening three league games.
Scoring six goals in their previous two matches and conceding at a rate of less than one goal per game under Cooper as things stand, the East Midlands side are well on their way to a brighter future under the Welshman and they will be hoping to build on this promising start with a win at home to Blackpool after the international break.
This run is in stark contrast with their early-season form, winning just one point from seven games under Chris Hughton and looking like the early favourites to go down, despite their promising late-summer recruitment.
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But a change of manager and system has seemingly made all the difference at the City Ground with the likes of Djed Spence and Max Lowe able to operate as attacking threats down the wing and the ability to play three central defenders tightening things up at this back.
The secret of Forest’s success under their new man? Cooper seems to fit the head coach mould a lot better than Hughton – and for the first time in a while – the manager and the club hierarchy seem to be on the same wavelength.
Known for sacking their managers without hesitation, the second-tier side may have finally found a longer-term manager, which can only be a good thing for some of the youngsters who will be desperate to make their breakthrough at the City Ground.
We have selected just two of their youngsters who could make a real impact this term.
Back can count himself extremely unlucky this term with Forest’s recruitment policy.
His first-team chances during the 2021/22 season have almost been shattered by his side’s right-back recruitment drive, with Djed Spence, Mohamed Drager and Jordi Osei-Tutu joining Carl Jenkinson as options in this position.
Thankfully for the 19-year-old, Spence and Osei-Tutu have only come in on loan deals, so there’s every chance a senior spot could open up for him next term, but that depends on whether he impresses Steve Cooper or not.
Ultimately, Back will need to be convincing both going forward and defensively as a wing-back if he wants to make the grade at the City Ground under Steve Cooper.
This will be a tricky task for the teenager to live up to, but both loanees are unlikely to sign on the dotted line permanently as things stand, so that should give him hope that he can make it.
Jordi Osei-Tutu is proving to be too injury prone at the moment and with Djed Spence playing so well, attracting interest previously from Premier League clubs in the summer, neither are realistically going to keep the 19-year-old out of the first team beyond this term.
He did make four senior appearances earlier in the season too, so perhaps that’s a good sign of things to come.
20-year-old Swan has been in fine form for Forest’s U23s so far this season, scoring four times and registering one assist in six Premier League 2 appearances and knocking on the door of the first team at this rate.
He hasn’t appeared in the senior team so far this season, but did record two Championship appearances last term and already has first-team experience at Concord Rangers and more recently, League Two outfit Port Vale.
At the latter, he scored just once in ten league appearances which isn’t the most impressive record, but he will only get better with more senior minutes under his belt and with no real chance of him going out on loan until at least January, Steve Cooper may decide to give the 20-year-old an opportunity to make an impact.
It’s also fair to say the 41-year-old only has a limited number of options up top, with Lewis Grabban’s recent injury reinforcing how little depth they have in the centre-forward position.
Lyle Taylor has also failed to impress in the East Midlands since joining last year, so a run in the senior squad for Swan is probably closer than it seems to many people.
Injuries and suspensions are also likely to creep in, with Steve Cooper saying he won’t recruit any free agents in the short term to address a lack of depth in this position. If Swan wants to make a real breakthrough, now is his time to impress.