Rock bottom Nottingham Forest play host to 15th placed Middlesbrough on Wednesday still in search of their first league win of the campaign.
Chris Hughton remains under pressure with many surprised he was not relieved of his duties after the club failed to beat Derby County and then lost to Cardiff City on Sunday.
Forest have some excellent players within their squad, many that teams that are much higher than them in the table would love to have in their ranks, but something is not working and the test of Neil Warnock’s Boro could be last chance saloon for Hughton at the helm.
Warnock may consider mixing it up himself as Boro have only won once in the league this season however he has more money in the bank in terms of the trust of his superiors, therefore the spotlight will be firmly on Hughton’s tactical decisions at the City Ground.
Here, then, we take a look at three curveballs Chris Hughton could throw at Middlesbrough ahead of the must win game for Nottingham Forest…
Change of system?
Forest have deployed a back four in every league outing so far this season, it would appear the former Newcastle United manager is most fond of a 4-2-3-1 formation but now with Djed Spence and Max Lowe arriving towards the end of the transfer window, a wing back system could be effective.
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Loic Mbe Soh and Tobias Figueiredo are waiting in the wings to step into the backline, giving Hughton further options in attacking areas. Both Spence and Lowe come to the City Ground with a point to prove and a more advanced role could give them the best chance to express themselves.
Spence will not feature against his parent club, Middlesbrough, but Mohamed Drager has played further forward a lot in his career and could be an option at right wing back in the 21-year-old’s absence.
Summer signing from West Ham United Xande Silva is yet to pull on a Nottingham Forest shirt but could be a wildcard selection for Hughton in looking to shake up the XI for the midweek fixture.
The 24-year-old is predominantly a winger but has played through the middle in his career, with the similarities in style between Lyle Taylor and Lewis Grabban, Silva could definitely provide a welcome alternative.
Play on the counter
With large concerns in both boxes it is hard to pinpoint which style would suit Forest the most at the moment.
However, Hughton is certainly more defensive minded and in that he should go back to his tried and tested strategy in looking to keep out the opposition. In the likes of Brennan Johnson, Alex Mighten and Philip Zinckernagel Forest could be very dangerous in transition and Boro are not blessed with a lot of pace in their side.
They are yet to keep a clean sheet all season and that could signal a turning point in this rut if they can achieve it.