There’s lots of talk about Nottingham Forest as potential title winners this season, with their strong summer of recruitment and Aitor Karanka’s previous experiences with Middlesbrough.
They haven’t graced the top flight for almost two decades, a far cry from the glory days of the seventies and eighties when they won European Cups, League Cups and finished in the top ten for eight consecutive seasons.
Back then, Forest were an institution built on hard work and Brian Clough. Now, they’re hoping to bounce back.
The route to the top flight seems to have been mapped out by Wolves last season; buy a big money Portuguese player, throw in a bit of Jorge Mendes magic and mix well with an experienced manager.
That led the black and gold to the top flight and now the red half of Nottingham wants to follow in their footsteps.
That isn’t the only thing Forest have going for them though, their youth academy is churning out incredibly talented footballers at an alarming rate.
Whilst Wolves didn’t blood many home grown players, Aitor Karanka might find he has some big assets slowly developing in the highly-rated Nigel Doughty academy.
Jorge Grant made plenty of headlines last season in League Two and whilst the stage might not have been the biggest, his progression has been very good.
He isn’t considered close enough to the first team for a squad place, yet, but a spell at Luton Town is going to bring him on even further.
He dominated League Two last season and if he does the same at League One, Forest won’t be able to keep farming him out without game time at the City Ground.
Ryan Yates is another, he did so well at Meadow Lane that he was recalled and loaned back to Scunthorpe United of League One.
His input there helped them to a top six finish and of the two, he must surely be close to a squad place. This season, Forest would do well to keep the 20-year old amongst the talented squad being assembled, bringing him on even quicker.
Then there’s Tyler Walker, taking a step backwards from Bolton to Mansfield, but still a frightening prospect. He was on the fringe of the first team for a while last season, but his League Two move would seem at odds with his overall development.
Maybe they want him to discover a scoring touch and accrue value, after all a 20-goal season in League Two took Marc McNulty from free agent to £1m very quickly.
Even lesser-known names such as Toby Edser, Anel Ahmedhodžić and Alex Iacovitti are making names for themselves, be it with loan clubs are earning international honours at various levels.
Edser, along with Adam Crookes, is on trial at Lincoln City with a view to a League Two loan move, something that could leave him following in Grant’s well-worn path this season. Ahmedhodžić has Sweden U17 and U19 honours and Iacovitti has already had two League Two loan moves.
The big names will keep rolling in and the Nottingham Forest juggernaut hopes to barge everyone aside as it powers towards the top flight, but Aitor Karanka would do well to keep an eye on a golden generation of youngsters who would like to be at least considered as potential first team players, eventually.
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