This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has hinted he could potentially use the free-agent market to solve the second-tier side’s lack of depth up front, as he spoke in yesterday afternoon’s press conference to Nottinghamshire Live.
The East Midlands side currently have a very limited number of options up top with Lewis Grabban potentially set to miss tonight’s Championship clash away at Barnsley with a minor thigh injury.
Lyle Taylor is the favourite to take his place up top, although the Montserrat international will need to improve on his form if he wants to retain his place in the starting lineup in the long term.
Quiz: Have Nottingham Forest ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?
The 31-year-old scored just four times in 39 league appearances last term and has carried on in a similar vein during 2021/22, failing to find the back of the net since the opening day of the campaign.
With his lack of goalscoring form and minimal options up top, dipping into the free-agent market has been touted as a possibility by new Forest manager Cooper, although he has ruled out any further signings in the ‘short-term’ as he continues to assess his current crop.
They may not be able to recruit previous free-agent target Facundo Ferreyra with his move to CFR Cluj reportedly all but complete – but is it worth the East Midlands side utilising this market or hold out and wait until the January window? And if the former, which out-of-contract players should they be targeting?
We asked three of our writers at Football League World these two key questions.
Steve Cooper had success in converting Jamal Lowe into a striker last season and I think doing something similar at Forest would be a better option than bringing in a free agent.
Looking at free agents who most recently played in the Championship, Hal Robson-Kanu, 32, would be the standout name, the Welshman played a significant role as West Bromwich Albion claimed automatic promotion in 2019/20 and could provide better link-up play than Lewis Grabban and Lyle Taylor.
Oumar Niasse is also available but it is the variety they need and a fresher striker than their current two is unlikely to come in the form of a free agent. Xande Silva looks an exciting proposition on the fringes and has played as a central striker in his career, maybe he is worth a crack as a false nine.
It is never a straightforward situation signing a free agent at this stage in the season with players that are still without a club likely to be far away from having match fitness that would be needed for them to make an immediate impact.
However, Nottingham Forest could well do with taking a potential gamble on a free agent in the forward department considering the injury issues for Lewis Grabban.
Lyle Taylor and Grabban are the Reds only real natural options upfront within their squad and Steve Cooper might want to add a little strength in depth to that key area of the squad.
Players like Andy Carroll and Hal Robson-Kanu remain available to be snapped up on free transfers at the moment and there are also a couple of other less familiar names in terms of the Championship that they could consider.
Forest certainly should not rush into bringing anyone into the club because it is vital that whoever they sign is not just a short-term solution, but can also be signed with the future in mind.
I don’t think it’s something they should necessarily looking at to be honest.
There were whispers about potential interest in Facundo Ferreyra, but he’s not one for the short term and doesn’t really fit into the new regime’s plans.
Dane Murphy wants to sign players aged 26 and under and modernise the way of thinking at the City Ground, and it doesn’t look as if there are any free agents out there who fit into his philosophy.
For me, I’d like to see them use Brennan Johnson more as a striker as I see him as a similar player to Ollie Watkins, who started out wide before moving into the middle.
They should work with what they have first.