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Nottingham Forest legend issues selection recommendation to Steve Cooper ahead of Huddersfield crunch tie

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Former Nottingham Forest player Garry Birtles believes Sam Surridge should start ahead of Keinan Davis in Sunday’s play-off final against Huddersfield Town, issuing that advice to Steve Cooper via the Garibaldi Red Podcast.

Davis spent the latter stages of the season out of action with a hamstring injury, a real source of frustration for the Aston Villa loanee who was denied a summer move because of a separate setback.

In fact, he only made his return to Forest’s squad just in time for their first-leg tie against Sheffield United, coming off the bench in the latter stages of the tie at Bramall Lane before playing a slightly more substantial part in the return tie at the City Ground, though his contribution came as a substitute once again.

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Did Garry Birtles play more games for Forest in his first or second spell at the club?

Despite his injury troubles, the 24-year-old has been a real asset when he’s managed to get on the pitch for the East Midlands outfit, scoring five goals and recording two assists in 15 league appearances.

But another January signing in Surridge, who arrived permanently from Stoke City during the latter stages of the winter window, has stepped up to the plate well in Davis and Lewis Grabban’s absence, scoring eight times in 22 outings.

His contributions in their absence arguably gave them a real chance of winning a top-two spot – and Birtles believes he should be the man to start up top at Wembley.

He said: “If he gets the right service he’ll get goals. He doesn’t panic when the ball comes to him. He’s the first player I’m watching when he’s playing.

“I look at his movement and what he does when the ball is in midfield. Does he come to the ball yes? Can he run in behind? Yes. Does he win headers? He wins his share. Can he finish? My word can he.

“Keinan [Davis] can make a difference coming on and Sam has earned the right to start.”

The Verdict:

Surridge has done nothing wrong for him to be dropped – but there can’t be room for sentiment during what is Forest’s biggest game for years and this is the reason why Cooper must go with the player he feels most comfortable with.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as though there will be room for both considering the presence of Brennan Johnson, who has to be one of the first names on the teamsheet following his displays this season.

It could potentially cause instability if Surridge doesn’t start though with the Reds becoming so accustomed to having the ex-Stoke man in the lineup in recent months, though Cooper may decide to throw a spanner in the works to include Davis with Carlos Corberan potentially expecting Surridge to start.

Davis has made an extremely good impact from the bench when he has come on as Birtles has alluded to though, so he could be the trump card they need if they find themselves deadlocked or a goal behind.

This is a good dilemma for Forest’s manager to have though and he would much rather have a good dilemma to contend with rather than a bad one. The Aston Villa loanee’s return has given them an extra weapon to utilise.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Nottingham Forest legend issues selection recommendation to Steve Cooper ahead of Huddersfield crunch tie

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