Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest take on Steve Cotterill`s Birmingham City at St Andrews in this afternoon`s Championship fixture.
Mark Warburton, reflected on the international break and today`s opponents at Thursday`s pre match press conference:
“Some of the guys have gone away and played no minutes, while some have played three or four games. Daryl Murphy and Jamie Ward have played in intense games, so we will need to assess them. It is about doing the right thing by each player and if we can get that right, then fantastic.’
The weekend game will be a difficult challenge, because they have had a tough run of results, like we did earlier in the season, so I`d imagine their management team have worked hard on strengthening unity and togetherness.
‘Birmingham have some very talented individual players, they are a strong outfit who are hurting a little bit at the moment and so they will be keen to rectify that. They will be very keen to make the right impression in front of their own fans and we have to be prepared for that.’
Birmingham City Team News:
Former Forest Manager, Steve Cotterill, has a lengthy injury list which includes goalkeeper David Stockdale, Carl Jenkinson, Maxime Colin, Jason Lowe and Isaac Vassell. Influential midfielder, Craig Gardner is also regarded as doubtful after suffering a calf strain in training.
Player to watch: Jota
Jose Ignacio Peleteiro Ramallo, thankfully shortened to Jota, has yet to score this season, after joining City for £6m on deadline day from Brentford.
The 26 year old, Spanish midfielder has featured 10 times this season, but scored 12 in 23 appearances for Brentford last season, including a goal against Forest at the City Ground.
He has scored 2 against Forest in his career and added 3 assists – all for Brentford – so, he certainly represents a danger that the reds need to nullify.
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Danny Fox, Jack Hobbs and Chris Cohen remain sidelined by injury, although Tendayi Darikwa and David Vaughan are both available for selection.
Several of the first team squad featured for their countries during the international break and Mark Warburton will need to decide whether Jamie Ward and Daryl Murphy are involved after their emotional World Cup qualifying defeats.
Player to watch: Keiran Dowell
The 20 year old Everton loanee, has hit a rich vein of form with 5 goals in his last 6 games, with 6 goals in 19 appearances this season for Forest.
The attacking midfielder is joint top scorer, with Daryl Murphy but he has also been credited with 3 assists – which is some way behind Barrie McKay`s 7 assists.
Match Facts & Stats
Forest have won 4 of their last 6 games, a run that has seen them rise to 9th in the table with 24 points from 16 games (w8, d0, l8).
A convincing 4-0 defeat of QPR before the international break improved the goal difference, but despite scoring 25, the achilles heel is certainly defending, with 26 conceded already.
City occupy 23rd, with Steve Cotterill needing to turn around their fortunes to ease the relegation fears of the big spending West Midlands outfit.
The Blues have just 1 win in their last 6 games, with no goals scored in their last 4 and including consecutive defeats against Brentford and Barnsley. They have earned 12 points from 16 games, (w3, d3, l10) and have scored just 8 league goals all season, conceding 25 – which is marginally better than Forest.
Steve Cotterill has managed Burnley, Portsmouth and Bristol City to home victories against Forest – is he one of those managers that have a hex over his former employers?
Christopher Kavanagh has been appointed as today`s Referee, for just the 8th time this season, the previous 7 games have yielded 19 yellows and a solitary red card. Last season he officiated 40 games, awarding 133 yellows and 3 red cards
Mr Kavanagh will be ably assisted by Stuart Burt and Michael McDonough, with Andrew Madley as Fourth Official.
The stats favour Forest and the Bookies have Warburton`s men as favourites for an away win, but it depends which Forest turn up – hopefully, not the generous defensive unit.
Looking at the facts, Forest are unlikely to keep a clean sheet despite City`s goal drought, so it`s crucial that Forest start well to quieten the home fans but could today be the day that Forest draw their first game of the season (1-1)?
Forest face back to back home fixtures, with Norwich visting the City Ground on Tuesday 21st November (7-45pm KO) followed by high flying Bluebirds, Cardiff on Sunday 26th (1-00pm KO).