Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton says his decision to select Gaetan Bong over Yuri Ribeiro for his side’s defeat at Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon was based on fitness.
With Nicholas Ioannou suspended, it was Bong rather than Ribeiro who came into the starting XI for Forest at the Riverside Stadium, where Marvin Johnson’s 81st minute goal secured all three points for the hosts.
That was Bong’s first appearance of the season, and only his second since joining the club back in January, but it seems Hughton was confident the 32-year-old was capable of doing the required work for his side.
Speaking after the game about his reasons for starting Bong ahead of Ribeiro, Hughton told Nottinghamshire Live: “It was just a selection choice. When I came in, Yuri had played one league game this season. He’s just come back from injury and has trained the last couple of days. On the balance of that, it was my selection based on where those players are at, at this moment.”
Explaining Ribeiro’s fitness situation in comparison to that of Bong, Hughton went on to add: “It was his ankle which kept him out for a couple of weeks. He’s been back for a couple of days’ training.
“On the balance of what I had, Gaetan played 90 minutes in an Under-23s game last week. That was what I based my choice on.”
Forest are next in action on Wednesday night, when they host Coventry at The City Ground.
This is an interesting one.
Given their lack of game time this season, it looks as though it would have been a risk for Hughton to take whether it was Bong or Ribeiro he started against ‘Boro.
He did however, have to play one of them with Ioannou suspended, and if Bong was at least a bit closer to match sharpness thanks to his run out with the club’s Under 23s recently, you can understand why he would be the man for Hughton to turn to here.