Back-to-back league defeats have brought Nottingham Forest right back down to earth despite a recent revival under Chris Hughton.
Before the international break, spirits were high following wins over Coventry City and Wycombe Wanderers, with the Reds securing successive league wins for the first time this season.
But two defeats on the road have put a major downer on things, with Forest losing against Barnsley and AFC Bournemouth in the space of four days.
It isn’t likely to get any easier, either. In their next four games, they face top-six sides in Swansea, Watford, Reading and Norwich, in what is shaping up to be a hectic fixture schedule.
It is essential, then, that Hughton continues to rotate his squad and keep players’ fitness high, as well as trying to find a winning formula in order to start climbing the table.
Here, we take a look at three tweaks Hughton must consider making to his side, ahead of this weekend’s home fixture against Swansea City…
Anthony Knockaert in
Forest were flat and lacking in ideas on Tuesday night, as they found themselves 2-0 down heading into the dying embers of the contest following a Junior Stanislas brace.
On the hour mark, Anthony Knockaert was introduced, replacing Joe Lolley as Hughton looked to roll the dice for one last time in search of a late resurgence.
Knockaert is the type of player who gets fans off their seats, and although supporters are unable to go and watch their team at the moment, that feeling doesn’t go away.
He lifted Forest on Tuesday night, with his clever footwork and forward-thinking runs causing the opposition serious problems in the latter stages.
He needs to start this weekend.
Loic Mbe Soh in
Tobias Figueiredo’s performances have been hit-and-miss in recent weeks, and the defender didn’t have the greatest of games by his standards on Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, a lapse of concentration allowed Stanislas to beat the offside trip, run through on goal and fire the ball past Brice Samba, to open the scoring after only three minutes.
Figueiredo has started every game since Hughton came in, but it might be time for a slight switch-up in defence, with Loic Mbe Soh waiting in the wings.
The former PSG defender has made only two appearances this season – both coming under Sabri Lamouchi – and he will be champing at the bit to impress.
Carl Jenkinson in
Similarly, Cyrus Christie also endured a tough night on Tuesday, and was partly at fault for Bournemouth’s opening goal like Figueiredo was.
Arnaut Danjuma ran the Fulham loanee ragged all night, and the full-back couldn’t get anywhere near the winger in terms of his fitness and energy.
It’s doubtful that Tendayi Darikwa has been named in Forest’s 25-man squad having failed to be named on the bench since Hughton’s arrival, so that leaves Carl Jenkinson as the back-up right-back.
Jenkinson has found game time hard to come by this season, and he will be keen to impress if he does get the chance to start. He’s not as attack-minded as Christie is, but with games against top sides coming up, his experience and defensive stability could be key.