If I’m completely honest, the visit of Middlesbrough tomorrow night may well have come at a decent time for Forest. I really thought Jonathan Woodgate would hit the ground running at Teeside given how despondent they looked under Tony Pulis at the back end of the season. With Britt Assombolonga out injured, and Boro a bit hit and miss, it feels like a good opportunity for Forest to pick up a much needed home win.
It’ll be interesting to see what formation and line up Sabri goes with but considering the damage Joao Carvalho inflicted against Boro last season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him given another go as No.10. Given that Joao can’t cement a place in the team under the managers preferred set up, we really need him to grasp the opportunity if it comes its way. He certainly did that last season with an absolute masterclass in a 3-0 mauling at The City Ground.
With Michael Dawson back to fitness, I’d expect him to partner Joe Worrall at the back; although it would be a bit harsh on Tobi Figuereido. Figs hasn’t done an awful lot wrong since coming back into the side but the leadership qualities of Dawson can’t be underestimated particularly with two back to back home games coming up. I’ll be gobsmacked if Joe Lolley and Lewis Grabban remain on the bench given they sat out the first hour at Millwall. I’m going to go with a 2-1 Forest win.
I caught up with Boro fan Jonny Bullock for his thoughts on Boro and Forest going in to Tuesdays game.
How is the Boro season shaping up under new manager Jonathan Woodgate?
Boro’s season so far has been underwhelming and met with a very low expectation and now frustration. Boro are going through a transition and need to get rid of high earners to balance the books. A lot like the Mowbray era of 2010-2013.
Woodgate has struggled so far but we’ve had a lot of injuries and suspensions which hasn’t really helped him. The main issue Boro have is depth, the last few game’s we’ve had academy players making up the numbers. Although it’s nice to see, we’re crying out for some experience to help them.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this Boro outfit?
Strengths: according to whoscored we don’t have any however, we are starting to create chances and it will be a matter of time until we start taking them. We tend to create through the wingbacks Coulson and Djed Spence who made his debut against Charlton were brilliant and it made us more balanced but they’re so young they can be prone to the odd mistake.
Weaknesses: we do make quite a few errors and struggle to defend against set pieces which could influence the game against Forest.
Which individual players do Forest fans need to be looking out for in the Boro side?
You are probably expecting me to say Britt but he went off injured on Saturday. This may see Boro opt for 19 year old Ste Walker to play up top with Ashley Fletcher or Boro will play 3511 with Tavernier in the hole.
Marcus Tavernier and Hayden Coulson are both very young; Coulson has came from the academy this year and plays LWB, Tav has been around for a couple of years now but is starting to breakthrough.
Jonny howson is Mr.Consistent and been our utility man. Known in the championship to be a number 10; he’s been playing centre back, right back, centre mid… you name it! Fantastic professional, every club needs a Jonny Howson, he’s been great!
Also, shout out to Paddy McNair, he’s been our attacking outlet this year and is coming back from suspension on Tuesday
What are your thoughts on Forest so far this season?
From what I’ve seen Forest have started brightly and it looks like Sabri Lamouchi has got you playing again and give the fans belief. Not going to lie, I thought replacing Karanka for O’Neill sent you back 2 years. I think with Aitor you would have been pushing for promotion this year.
But credit to Lamouchi, he’s doing fantastically well and got you there (in the playoffs) If he has time to build which is a rarity in football you could have something special here. I do think you’ll drop off and finish around 8th!
What’s your most memorable game against Forest?
Fave memory? Forest 1-2 Boro in 2015/16 season. We never beat Forest and to do it in our promotion season was pretty special.
Predictions for Tuesday with scorers?
I can’t see us picking up 3 points although I would love it. I think Forest will win 2-0 with Cash and Worrall getting the goals.
Many thanks to Jonny for his thoughts. Really appreciated!