Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Warburton has identified Nottingham Forest’s Jack Colback, Ryan Yates and Lewis Grabban as players that will be key for the away side at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium tonight, as he spoke to his club’s media team ahead of this tie.
Not just the trio, but the entire Forest team have improved since Steve Cooper’s arrival at the City Ground last month, going unbeaten in five of his opening six games as manager of the East Midlands side and winning an impressive 13 points from a possible 18, lifting the Reds outside of the relegation zone and into a more comfortable position.
Losing 4-0 at home to Fulham on Sunday, they will be desperate to show this is nothing more than a blip in their quest to continue climbing up the table, with a spot in the top six potentially up for grabs at the end of the 2021/22 campaign if they can retain their current form.
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Although Colback and Yates have improved in the last month, it’s experienced forward Grabban who has stolen the headlines this term, scoring five goals in 13 games and thriving under the Welshman in his short time at the City Ground already, potentially a sign of things to come from the 33-year-old who has been a consistent goalscorer in the EFL throughout his career.
Speaking about the forward, the midfield duo and Forest in general going into tonight’s showdown under the lights, QPR boss Warburton said: “Friday will be a very good test, they (Forest) have a very good squad.
“You look at the backline, the midfield, with the likes of Colback and Yates, of course Grabban up front is very strong.
“The options they have from the bench as well, they are a very talented team, they have a huge amount of pace, Steve [Cooper] has come in, had a good run of games and done well, so we must meet a challenge.”
For Warburton’s men, redemption will be on the menu as they look to recover from recent shock losses against Peterborough United in the league and Sunderland in the Carabao Cup.
Although a controversial offside was given in the latter at the expense of Rangers, they had to be more clinical in front of goal and will be hoping to put that right against a very capable side in Forest as two Championship rivals collide.
After receiving criticism under Chris Hughton earlier in the season, Yates has done especially well to bounce back and is now enjoying life under Cooper, something that should serve him well as he continues to develop further.
At just 23, there’s still much room for improvement and he’s at least a few more years off reaching the peak of his playing powers. Not only will he learn from his manager, but also 32-year-old central midfield partner Colback who has a lot of experience in the top two tiers of English football.
A lot of credit also has to go to Grabban who struggled last season, but is now getting back to his best and 33 and looks as good as ever, still likely to play a vital role throughout the season even with the likes of Brennan Johnson, Philip Zinckernagel and Lyle Taylor as other options.
Sheffield United forward Rhian Brewster and Swansea City central midfielder Jay Fulton, both of whom played under the current Forest manager during his time at the Swansea.com Stadium, have both been linked with a move to the East Midlands recently.
With this, all three will be desperate to continue impressing to ensure they retain their starting spots in the first 11 ahead of what could be an exciting remainder of the 2021/22 campaign if they can keep the good results rolling in.