It’s a massive game for Nottingham Forest this weekend, with only 90 minutes separating Steve Cooper’s side from a potential place in the Premier League next season.
The club have worked hard to get to where they are, with the former Swansea boss taking the helm when the side were struggling at the bottom end of the Championship table. The boss has revitalised the side and had them performing well and they have subsequently shot up the division and into the play-offs.
He’s done so well, that the automatic spots were not out of the equation until the last few weeks of the campaign. Instead though, he has had to settle for a spot in the play-offs and after seeing off Sheffield United, they now have to win just once more to get into the top flight.
It won’t be easy for them, as they take on a Huddersfield side who are playing with just as much confidence as they are. With so much riding on this fixture, Cooper will need to ensure his side are well-equipped to seal the win – and here are some of the dilemmas facing him ahead of the game.
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Does Philip Zinckernagel get the nod?
The player has started both of the play-off semi-final games for Nottingham Forest so far but it could be argued that he hasn’t been at his brilliant best in either fixture.
He was subbed off in both games and replaced without really offering too much. He has struggled to find an end product and has barely had a shot and whilst he statistically completed the most dribbles of anyone in the first game against the Blades, he also lost more duels than anyone else on the field.
There are some solid options for Steve Cooper to choose from on the bench and the question is whether or not he chooses to stick or twist against Huddersfield. He has been relatively quiet in both games and the Terriers will probably be preparing to face him at Wembley – so should the boss continue to trust him or throw someone like Joe Lolley in from the start to mix things up?
Lolley himself managed a lot more efforts at goal when he came on in both clashes – and he could be a handful if he gets a start on Sunday. The question is whether or not he will get the chance over Zinckernagel.
Who starts in attack?
It seems highly likely that Brennan Johnson will start the game in his usual forward position, especially considering that he has been excellent in both play-off games so far and bagged a goal in both.
A player of his talent shouldn’t be on the bench and it is highly unlikely that he will be. Sam Surridge has also looked very bright too but like in the case with Philip Zinckernagel, the Terriers have likely prepared to come up against that strikeforce pairing.
With someone like Keinan Davis on the bench then, does Steve Cooper mix things up and throw him onto the pitch from the beginning of the game? The on-loan star has been a handful most of the time that he has been allowed to play for Forest and when he has come off the bench in these play-off games, he has produced similar showings.
Against Sheffield United in the last game for example, he completed more dribbles than anyone else on the field with four despite not coming off the bench. Steve Cooper then is blessed with options in attack – and with both Surridge and Davis able to offer different and solid alternatives, he can keep things fresh and keep Huddersfield guessing ahead of the game at Wembley.