Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper has admitted he took a major risk in bringing on forward Lewis Grabban in the second half in their 3-1 win against Barnsley, speaking to Nottinghamshire Live after the game.
This gamble from the Welshman paid off, with the East Midlands side 1-0 down at that point against the struggling Tykes and needing to get back into the game to keep building momentum after winning four points from a possible six in their last two league games.
The 33-year-old made an instant impact within a minute, putting Brennan Johnson through on goal with a defence-splitting pass before Philip Zinckernagel tapped home.
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This proved to be the start of a great fightback by Cooper’s men, scoring through Johnson seven minutes later to turn the tie on its head before Grabban got in on the act as he found himself in the right place at the right time in the 81st minute to convert Alex Mighten’s cross.
The forward’s appearance and the length of his time on the pitch was perhaps a surprise to many of the away supporters at Oakwell, after seeing him previously being labelled as a major doubt for this game after sustaining a minor thigh injury against Millwall at the weekend.
Forest boss Cooper has since admitted how risky it was to bring him on for the final half an hour, saying after the match: “It was a slight risk to give him (Grabban) any sort of minutes.
“He certainly wasn’t available to start.
“Who knows, he might not even be ready to start the game on Saturday either.
“But we needed him tonight, and he declared that he felt right to do what he did. That ended up being beneficial for us, so we’re happy with that.
“I just hope we haven’t – and I don’t think we have – set him back in any way. He played not at 100 percent tonight, for sure.”
It was a huge risk for Steve Cooper to bring Lewis Grabban on and make such a big decision this early on in this tenure, because he would have been hammered if the 33-year-old had come on, not made a huge impact and sustained a more serious injury.
But something quite clearly had to change on the hour mark if they wanted to claim a precious three points and when you have a man like Grabban on the bench of his calibre and experience, it’s almost too tempting not to give him a chance.
Thankfully, he seems to have come away from this game unscathed and whether they should use him in their next game will depend on his fitness and the situation Forest find themselves in midway through this weekend’s tie at Birmingham City.
With the international break coming up and a full chance for the forward to recover, it would almost seem silly to bring him on at St Andrew’s if Forest have a comfortable lead and he’s not quite fully fit.
But they had to do something against a current relegation rival in their quest to climb up the Championship table, with this being a very important win, so you have to commend the East Midlands side’s manager for making a big call like this. He gets paid the amount of money he does for making decisions like this.