Nottingham Forest manager Chris Hughton has admitted he is open to utilising the free-agent market before January in an attempt to bolster his side further, speaking to Nottinghamshire Live after the Cardiff City defeat.
This loss against the Bluebirds has been the tip of the iceberg of what has been an extremely poor 2021/22 campaign, winning just one point from a possible 18 in their opening six league games and sitting at the foot of the Championship table currently.
Not only has it been a shoddy season because of these results, but also because of the timing of their recruitment.
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Although there was a hugely increased amount of movement in the transfer market in the latter stages of the transfer window throughout England, the East Midlands side had only signed backup goalkeeper Ethan Horvath during the summer before Philip Zinckernagel’s temporary arrival from Watford on the eve of their league season.
The need to address their attacking department was clear after holding the joint-worst goalscoring record in the Championship last term, so the Danish winger’s arrival was much welcomed by the City Ground faithful after seeing his involvement in Watford promotion-winning 2020/21 campaign.
But they failed to address their centre-forward position after reportedly being rejected by both Sint-Truiden man Yuma Suzuki and Serie A forward M’Bala Nzola, leaving them light on options up top with Glenn Murray retiring at the end of last term.
Despite making 10 additions in the summer, under-fire boss Hughton has refused to rule out dipping into the free-agent market in the coming months and said: “Because of the numbers we have in the squad, that still is a possibility.
“At this moment, what we have to think about is the squad we’ve got is the squad we’ve got.
“If there is an addition to that, then that will happen.
“At this moment, it’s very much about the squad we’ve got – and making sure we get more out of the squad we’ve got.”
You can understand why Hughton is keen to get the best out of the current squad he has, because after already making 10 signings, he may feel he doesn’t have the audacity to ask for further recruits after their poor start.
However, some of the new signings haven’t played yet and for those who have, it will still take a little bit more time for them to settle in. The fact they weren’t able to get a centre forward is also a bit of shambles on the recruitment team’s end, so you have to feel sorry for the Forest manager in that sense.
Currently, he has Lewis Grabban and a misfiring Lyle Taylor as his only senior options up top, although he may also opt to go with new signing Xande Silva in the centre at some point despite the 24-year-old predominantly operating as a winger.
Out-of-contract forward Andy Carroll, who was linked with Reading on transfer deadline day and worked with Hughton at Newcastle United, could be a potential target in their situation if they feel a sensible wage package can be negotiated.
He may be known for his injury record, but a one-year deal to give them a different option up top would be reasonably low-risk and may end up paying dividends if the 32-year-old can remain fit. It’s a big if though.