Former Nottingham Forest forward Garry Birtles has urged the club to recall Brennan Johnson from his loan spell at Lincoln City in January.
Johnson joined the League One club on a season-long loan deal back in the summer transfer window, and has since enjoyed an impressive spell at Sincil Bank.
The teenager has scored two goals in 15 appearances so far this season, producing some impressive and eye-catching performances in a number ten role, and given Forest’s own struggles recently, Birtles believes that it could be worth them taking a chance on the youngster in their senior side.
Birtles admits that should only be done if the attacker will play regularly for Chris Hughton’s side, something he feels is a risk worth taking.
Speaking on the Garibaldi Red podcast about that issue, the Forest legend said: “If they do bring him back then massive pressure comes onto his shoulders. If they do bring him back then it would be to put him in the team and not put him on the bench.
“There’s no point bringing him back to sit on the bench. I look at Gareth Southgate with England. He’ll give young players a chance if they’re doing well for their team. Players in form, you should give them a chance.”
Discussing the risk that might represent with a young player, Birtles went on to add: “Younger players might be a little different. If you come back and are thrown into a team not playing well and not scoring goals that pressure is very intense.
“If they don’t do it then they’re back into the background. Do they go backwards?”
But despite that, Birtles still believes that Forest’s position at the wrong end of the Championship table means it is a chance they should take, claiming: “Tell him you’ll give him a chance and let’s see what you can do. Forest can’t lose by it if they’re not doing well at the bottom of the league.”
I do understand what Birtles is saying here about Forest not being able to lose here.
If they play Johnson and it works out, then it’s great for them and they push up the league table, whereas if it doesn’t, they are still only in the same position they are anyway.
However, if they give Johnson a chance and it doesn’t work out, while it might not impact Forest’s position much, it could be damaging for the young attacker, particularly if he becomes something of a scapegoat for it, which could become a hard tag for him to shake going forward in his career.