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Steve Cooper sets Nottingham Forest stance on free agents amid striking dilemma

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Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has refused to rule out utilising the free-agent market before January in a bid to solve their lack of depth up top, speaking to Nottinghamshire Live ahead of tonight’s clash against Barnsley.

However, he also added that ‘no short-term decisions’ will be made in terms of potential recruits, so they may have to wait a while until they see any fresh faces come in to shake things up at the City Ground.

After scoring just 37 times in 46 league games last term and looking toothless going forward at times, a striker had to be at the top of the agenda and they did indeed pursue a range of forwards in a bid to solve this attacking problem, having the joint-second worst goal record in the Championship in 2020/21 behind arch-rivals Derby County.

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Won the European Cup back-to-back

But after being reportedly rejected by Yuma Suzuki and M’Bala Nzola during the transfer window, with a potential move for Sandro Kulenovic also failing to materialise, they were unable to bring in a striker despite a flurry of late recruitment at the City Ground.

This leaves Lyle Taylor and Lewis Grabban as their two main options up top, although the latter could be ruled out until after the international break after suffering a thigh injury against Millwall last weekend.

With this lack of depth up top and Steve Cooper ideally wanting more options to utilise in a bid to lift Forest out of the relegation zone, he could potentially dip into the free-agent market, something he spoke about in his pre-match press conference yesterday.

He said: “It’s obviously something that is possible because it’s within the rules and there will always be free agents around – people who might have missed out on moves when the transfer window was open.

“I think we have to be very clear about what we need, and why. We don’t want to make any short-term decisions, even though we want to make sure we’re as competitive as we can be in the upcoming games.

“It’s probably more of a conversation with Dane (Murphy, CEO) and about thinking forward.

“But, if I’m being honest, my real focus is on the boys who are in the building. That’s always my focus. How we can help them, improve them, guide them, and do whatever it takes to get them to be at their best.

“There’s no point thinking too much on what we haven’t got. Let’s focus on what we have got, and try to do the best we can.”

The Verdict:

Ideally, they would have picked one or two more forwards to come in during the transfer window, when they would have had the freedom to bring in a striker from another club immediately and not have to look at the limited options left in the free-agent pool.

Andy Carroll is still an option – and Football League World understands he’s eager to sort out his future soon. FLW also believes several second-tier clubs have previously been in discussions with the former Newcastle United man over a potential deal, with a move to Reading failing to materialise as things stand.

The 32-year-old has been well-known for his injuries over the years, but he’s a powerful aerial threat Forest could call upon and would be an extremely useful option to have in the second tier.

They could wait and invest in another forward in January, but waiting until then could be a risky policy with the likes of Taylor and Grabban not guaranteed to be fully fit between the next international break and the winter window.

It’s definitely something for Steve Cooper to consider though, especially if he wants to switch to playing two up top like he did at Swansea City with Andre Ayew and Jamal Lowe last term.


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: Steve Cooper sets Nottingham Forest stance on free agents amid striking dilemma

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