Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest welcome Chris Coleman`s Sunderland Trentside for Saturday`s Championship fixture.
Mark Warburton, pulled no punches in his latest pre-match Press Conference:
‘Whilst it was tough to lose 3-0, we let a packed City Ground down on Boxing Day. We have to look at it and although we can talk about missed chances, a wonder goal and penalty decisions, that`s irrelevant. The fact is we lost the game 3-0 and now we have to look at our reaction, hope it never happens again by demanding that players work harder and better, simple as that.
‘Looking at Sunderland, Chris Coleman has gone in and recognised the challenge, after they`ve had a tough start to the season but it is a huge club, with a Premier League set up and I am sure Chris can see the fantastic opportunity there.
They`ve had some turnaround results recently but have also picked up some injuries so we don’t really know what side we will face, with possibly six or seven of their players being injured; we will have to wait and see. Either way, we will respect them, analyse them as best we can but it has to be about us. We are at home and we have to focus on Forest.’
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Although some of Forest`s walking wounded are back in training, it`s likely that Matt Mills, Tendayi Darikwa, Jack Hobbs, Danny Fox and Chris Cohen will not feature.
David Vaughan and Daryl Murphy were both rested for the Boxing defeat, so both could well return against their former club, as well as Armand Troare, Matty Cash, Zach Clough and Jamie Ward who are all vying for start in the last game of 2017.
Liam Bridcutt has picked up 9 yellows so far, so, with him being just 1 booking from a 2 game ban, could he be rested today so that he features at Elland Road or is today the best time to pick up that 10th booking?
Player to watch: David Vaughan
Although Daryl Murphy got the only goal of the game in the reverse fixture at The Stadium Of Light – Forest just seem to play better when Vaughan is in the side.
He did not feature on Boxing Day after failing a pre-match fitness test due to ‘stiffness` and approaching 35 years old, the Welsh midfielder is becoming increasingly less likely to play 2 games in a week.
With just 2 goals (in 106 league & cup appearances) for the reds since joining on a free from Sunderland in July 2014 – it would nice to see him add another today!
Sunderland AFC Team News:
Chris Coleman has an extensive injury list to contend with, confirming that top scorer Lewis Grabban is unfit to play as well as Didier Ndong and defender, Tyias Browning, so he may be forced to change his formation from playing his preferred 3 centre halves.
They join Jonathan Williams, Lamine Kone, Lee Cattermole, Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore.
Jack Rodwell is back in training, so could be a surprise addition to the squad as Darron Gibson is playing with a niggling groin injury. Billy Jones and Brian Oviedo are also just back from injury, so Coleman will be keen to manage his squad to prevent relapses.
Player to watch: Aiden McGeady
After Lewis Grabban (12), the 31 year old Irish midfielder is the next highest scorer for the Black Cats with 4 in 20 appearances this season.
He did not feature against Forest earlier in the season, but he did score in his last game against Forest (April 2017) for Preston.
Match Facts & Stats
After the disappointing home defeat on Boxing Day, Forest remain in 13th position in the Championship, with 31 points from their 24 games (w10, d1, l13), scoring 33 but with a woeful 41 goals conceded.
Only Burton & Birmingham have lost more games than Forest, who have lost 4 of their last 6 games, with just 4 points from 18 and 2 defeats in their last 3 home games.
The Black Cats are 22nd in the Table, with 19 points from their 24 games (w3, d10, l11), scoring 28 but conceding 42.
Although they have won just 2 in their last 20 league games, these have been since Chris Coleman`s appointment on 19th November – in the 7 games since he took charge, this has since seen an upturn in form, won 2, d2, lost 3.
Darren Bond has been appointed as Saturday`s Referee, which will be his 24th game in charge this season, the previous have yielded 83 yellow and 2 red cards. Last season officiated 40 games, which saw him brandish 117 yellows and 6 red cards.
Mr Bond, who only game this season involving Forest was the defeat to Ipswich, will be ably assisted by James Mainwaring and Nick Greenhalgh, with Darren England as the Fourth Official.
Both sides lost 3-0 on Boxing Day, with both managers disappointed with the performances of their sides and calling for a reaction!
Looking at the goals conceded, both defences are amongst the worst in the division – so, 0-0 looks highly unlikely.
The Bookies have Forest as odds on favourites for a home win, but it depends whether Mark Warburton can get his players to actually play for more than 45 minutes (1-1?)!
Forest make the trip to the extortionately priced Elland Road for the New Year`s Day clash against Leeds on Monday (KO 3-00pm).