Former Nottingham Forest striker Garry Birtles says that it is “no surprise” to hear of England’s interest in young midfielder Brennan Johnson.
The 18-year-old made an instant impact on his first appearance for the Wales under-21 side in midweek, scoring after just three minutes on his debut against Belgium.
The energetic midfielder also featured for the under-21s against Germany on Tuesday night, as Wales look to qualify for the European Championships.
The Daily Mirror has since claimed that England manager Gareth Southgate is a keen admirer of the young midfielder, and the Three Lions will look to go head-to-head with Wales for his services in the future.
Johnson has burst onto the scene under Sabri Lamouchi, making his senior debut for Forest against West Bromwich Albion on the opening day of the season.
The homegrown star has since made two more appearances for the Reds, both coming in the Carabao Cup where he impressed against both Fleetwood Town and arch rivals Derby County.
Speaking in his latest Nottingham Post column, Birtles has said that it comes as “no surprise” to see Southgate running the rule over the 18-year-old’s progress.
He said: “It has been fantastic to see Johnson find another gear in the last few months. He has always been someone with a great chance of making it, but this season we have seen him pushing hard for a place in the Forest first team.
“He has also stood out on international duty, scoring for Wales Under-21s against Belgium, as well as playing against Germany on Tuesday night. That is great experience for him and having made his mark this season, it was no surprise to read that Gareth Southgate is keeping tabs on him.
“It could be an interesting few months or years for Brennan, but he seems like a level headed young man. No matter what, this season has been win-win for him and Forest with regards to the development of the attacking midfielder.”
Forest return to league action this Saturday afternoon – Lamouchi’s side travel to Wales to face Swansea City at the Liberty Stadium, hoping to pick up their third league win of the season.
I have been very, very impressed with Johnson in the early stages of the season, and he could be the next big thing at the City Ground if he keeps performing like he is doing.
He was impressive against Derby in the Carabao Cup, and although Phillip Cocu fielded a host of youngsters on the night, they still had some very experienced players out on the pitch.
Johnson adds real energy and tenaciousness to the midfield, and is clearly a player who Lamouchi rates highly.
The sky is the limit for the youngster.