Nottingham Forest centre-back Steve Cook has revealed Brennan Johnson had the opportunity to move away from the City Ground in January but was advised to stay put, as he spoke to The Telegraph.
The 20-year-old has adapted seamlessly to Championship football this term, recording ten goals and five assists in 34 league appearances this term and playing a huge part in the Reds’ move up the table following a poor start to their 2021/22 campaign.
Combining well with Djed Spence down the right-hand side for Steve Cooper’s men, he has attracted interest from elsewhere with Brentford’s interest dating back to the summer following his impressive loan spell under Michael Appleton at Lincoln City.
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London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United as well as Leeds United have joined the race since then, with the Welsh international yet to put pen-to-paper on a new deal at the City Ground despite efforts from officials at the second-tier side to get him tied down to fresh terms.
However, it’s the Bees who have made the most attempts to lure him away from his current side at this stage, launching multiple bids during the January window in failed attempts to recruit him.
Cook has since revealed the 20-year-old could have moved on – but prevented himself from doing so as he listened to advice and kept his focus on his current club’s quest for promotion.
The centre-back said: “They (Johnson and Spence) are top players with promising careers ahead of them.
“It’s going to be key how they handle themselves with the added pressure of teams trying to take them out of the game. They are a huge part of this team.
“As one of the more experienced players I speak to them a lot, but they’ve got good people around them.
“Brennan obviously had an opportunity to move on but I know for a fact that he was advised to stay at Forest. They’ve played a lot of games and know what they need to do.”
This is a good choice from Johnson if he had the possibility of making the move elsewhere, because he still needs to prove himself more in the second tier and continue to build his confidence at Forest before potentially taking the step up.
With the Reds’ supporters firmly behind him too, starring as one of his boyhood side’s most integral players, it would almost seem mad for him to leave at this stage with promotion still a real possibility for Cooper’s men after progressing well under the Welshman.
However, he may be tempted by a move away in the summer if they fail to win a spot in the top flight – because right-sided partner Spence would be unlikely to return and with Johnson already racking up decent numbers in the second tier – he may feel he deserves a move away.
For now though, his focus needs to be on his current team because they certainly have the ingredients to win promotion, even though they face a difficult task in competing with the likes of Sheffield United and Middlesbrough, both of whom may be disappointed if they don’t win at Wembley, let alone get there in the first place.
Consistency will only generate more interest anyway, so he will be keen not to focus on the current attention he’s getting.