And the 22-year-old could be the replacement for James Garner, who looks set to head back to his parent club Manchester United for a potential chance in their first-team after a successful year-and-a-half as a Forest loanee.
The revelation comes after the same publication has reported that new United boss Erik ten Hag is set to evaluate Garner in pre-season and then decide whether or not he will feature in his first-team plans at Old Trafford this coming season.
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With Forest’s place in the top flight confirmed following their 1-0 Championship play-off final victory over Huddersfield Town, the Reds are set to press on with their transfer business in the coming weeks, and have seemingly identified Smallbone as a potential addition to their engine room.
Smallbone has made 16 Premier League appearances for Southampton in his career, with his playing time in recent years stalled due to a serious knee injury picked up in January 2021.
The midfielder has two years left on his contract at the Saints, meaning that Forest will either have to pay a fee for his services to work out a loan deal with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side if their interest is genuine.
It’s seemingly becoming more and more likely that Garner will play a part at Manchester United next season thanks to his sparkling form under Steve Cooper.
Forest will have no shortage of options though when it comes to replacing him, and they perhaps may need one or two more central midfielders on top of that to strengthen that particular position.
Smallbone is a player who fits into the Garner mould – he’s a similar age and is comfortable on the ball and if Forest spend money on him then he’s someone who can improve.
There has to be a slight worry about Smallbone’s serious knee injury last year, but if he’s a legitimate target for the Tricky Trees this summer then it could be a smart piece of business.