Nottingham Forest centre-back Joe Worrall has said Steve Cooper’s constant message to players to battle for a starting spot whether they are playing or not will be key to the Reds’ future success, speaking to Nottinghamshire Live.
Forest’s recruitment drive at the latter end of the summer, recruiting six players between 27th August and the start of September, has helped to provide competition in multiple positions as they look to secure a top-six finish this term.
Under a man of Chris Hughton’s promotion-winning pedigree, this charge for the Premier League was expected to take place under the Irishman.
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But after winning just one point from a possible 21 in their first seven league games of the 2021/22 campaign, Hughton was dismissed, allowing ex-Swansea boss Cooper to come in and not only alter the East Midlands side’s system, but also completely change their fortunes.
They went unbeaten in their opening five games under the Welshman’s stewardship before their heavy 4-0 loss against Fulham, recovering well with a late equaliser at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium against Queens Park Rangers on Friday night.
They will be hoping to carry this into tomorrow evening’s game at the City Ground against Slavisa Jokanovic’s Sheffield United – and with Mohamed Drager potentially in line to come into the matchday squad in place of Max Lowe – this depth and players relentlessly competing for or trying to retain their starting spot will be key to Forest’s success this season and beyond.
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This is according to the Reds’ centre-back Worrall, who said to Nottinghamshire Live: “I like playing with Toby (Figueiredo), and I like playing with Scott (McKenna).
“Rodrigo is pushing us as well. He’s not featured yet, but he’s been unlucky with a couple of injuries.
“That’s something the manager has instilled in us, that the boys who aren’t playing – the likes of Xande Silva, Joao (Carvalho), Braian (Ojeda), Mo Drager and Cafu – are pushing. And they need to push.
“That keeps the standards high.
“That’s something the manager is constantly badgering into the team, that whether you or playing or not, you need to be pushing to get a start.
“It creates that team cohesion, which is brilliant. That’s what you need. If you’re going to be successful, that’s key.”
It’s clear Forest have an adequate amount of depth in many areas to be able to succeed this term.
Manchester United loanee James Garner, who was a crucial part of their side in the second half of last season, isn’t even starting at the moment which tells you everything you need to know. They also have a lot of depth at wing-back which should help them replace Max Lowe tomorrow night who’s ineligible to face his former side.
The addition of Ethan Horvath in the goalkeeping department has helped to keep Brice Samba on his toes – and Rodrigo Ely coming in will also help to provide depth in central defence now they are operating with a back three.
One position they may want to address if they want to play two up two is the forward department, with the East Midlands side failing to recruit a striker during the summer window after being so poor going forward last season as they scored just 37 goals in 46 league games.
So ahead of January, there is definitely still room to improve, but their recruitment drive in late-summer means they will only need a limited number of additions in the winter to ensure they stay in the race for the top six.