Lyle Taylor expects Brennan Johnson to go right to the very top of the game, regardless of whether that’s with Nottingham Forest or not.
Johnson is one of the most exciting prospects in the Championship, with the Nigel Doughty Academy producing yet another young star with plenty of potential.
The 20-year-old came through the ranks on Trentside, and last season, he spent the campaign in League One with Lincoln City, scoring 13 goals in all competitions for the Imps.
Since returning to Forest in pre-season, Johnson has been a major talking point amongst Forest fans. The winger impressed in pre-season and then produced a hugely impressive display in the Reds’ opening day defeat to Coventry City last weekend.
The Wales international has been the subject of interest from the likes of Leeds United and Brentford, with the Reds now looking to tie him down to a new deal at the City Ground.
“Brennan is a talented young footballer, as proven last year,” Lyle Taylor told yesterday’s press conference.
“Everyone here kept tabs on him because he was still one of us, regardless of whether he was pulling on a Lincoln shirt or not. That was the same with Jordan Gabriel and Tyrese Fornah who also went out on loan.
“To see Lincoln get to the play-off final was a bit of a difficult one for us, because one of our boys were going to lose in that final. Unfortunately it was Brennan, but I’d be saying the same thing if it happened to be Jordan who lost.”
Last weekend, Johnson picked up from where he left off last season, producing his first assist of the campaign in the Reds’ opening day defeat at Coventry.
Receiving the ball on halfway, the winger displayed an extraordinary turn of pace to get away from Ben Sheaf, drive into the Coventry area before putting the ball on a plate for Taylor to tap in at the far post.
It was a goal which sparked pandemonium amongst 4,000 travelling Forest fans, and a piece of brilliance which led to Johnson being given the nickname ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ by Taylor on an Instagram story.
“I’ll be honest,” Taylor added. “On Sunday, I thought Brennan was running down a blind alley. I thought ‘there is no way’.
“There’s not many players you see carry a ball faster than somebody who is just running. He just stepped on it and went, and at that point, you can see me put my head down and think ‘I need to keep up here’.
“But the awareness to put the ball in an area you cannot defend – it just tells you everything.
“The boy was with Wales last year and he was maybe unfortunate not to go to the Euros. I think that tells you absolutely everything you need to know about Brennan Johnson.
“He’s got such a good opportunity to go and make such a good career for himself. The way he is a person and the attitude he has, I think he will definitely take that.
“Look, I hope he takes Forest to the top, but he will definitely go to the top regardless.”
Johnson is among a trio of Forest players who spent last season out on loan, who have since come back and been given a taste of first-team football under Chris Hughton.
Gabriel, who won the play-offs with Blackpool, has been Forest’s first-choice right-back since the beginning of pre-season. Fornah, meanwhile, spent last season on loan at Plymouth, and in midweek, he was the man of the match as Forest beat Bradford City in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Taylor concluded: “You can see the way they’ve developed from last pre-season to this pre-season.
“The young boys here, between them they have such a good opportunity, especially having been in and around the first-team squad, and some of them have even been starting. Some of them will be given the chance like Tyrese the other night, and he performed brilliantly.
“You see the level that they’re at and the standards that they can possibly reach. It’s brilliant having young lads like that in and around the building.
“They breathe fresh life into us old boys!”