Mark Warburton’s Nottingham Forest welcome managerless Sheffield Wednesday Trentside for The Boxing Day Championship clash.
Speaking after picking up a point at Preston, Mark Warburton, gave an insight into managing his squad over the festive period:
‘The first thing we will do is assess the squad in the morning, with training at 8.15am on Christmas Eve, although any players who started at Deepdale, will be doing recovery work in the pool and getting a massage.
The boys who did not get any minutes on the pitch will do 75 minutes of work, then we pack them off and tell them to enjoy their Christmas day. The thinking behind that is that there are more positives to be gained by allowing them to spend time with their families, rest and recover well, rather than dragging them in to train for half an hour on Christmas Day. Of course, we`ll them to eat wisely, look after themselves and come in ready to go at 1pm on Boxing Day, ahead of a tough game that we are looking forward to.”
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Matt Mills, Tendayi Darikwa, Jack Hobbs, Danny Fox and Chris Cohen all remain absent due to injury, whilst Tyler Walker and Ben Brereton are doubts for the game with ‘minor` knocks!
Jamie Ward, Armand Traore and Barrie McKay are all pushing for a starting place, whilst Warburton may consider resting Daryl Murphy and David Vaughan as the games come thick and fast over the festive period.
Player to watch: Michael Mancienne
The 29 year old defender joined Forest, from Hamburg, for £1m in July 2014 and has so far clocked up 112 appearances but has never managed to score – in fact Mancienne has never ever scored a goal as a professional footballer!
Whilst he will probably be more concerned about trying to secure an elusive clean sheet for Forest against a team that has proven to be a real nemesis in recent years – a goal is certainly long overdue, but will no doubt have very long odds!
Sheffield Wednesday Team News:
Assistant manager Lee Bullen will take charge of the side in Carvalhal`s absence and he faces a lengthy injury list to content with. Fernando Forestieri, Barry Bannan, Keiren Westwood, Jack Hunt and Tom Lees are expected to miss out, whilst Steven Fletcher could return to the matchday squad.
Morgan Fox is available after serving his suspension.
Player to watch: Gary Hooper
After an initial loan spell, the 29 year old striker joined Wednesday, from Norwich, in January 2016 for £3m and has so far managed to bag 30 goals in 66 league and cup appearances.
With 11 goals in 24 appearances, including 1 in the 3-1- September defeat of Forest – the striker is certainly in fine form and is comfortably top scorer for The Owls.
Match Facts & Stats
The Owls are 15th in the Table with 27 points from their 23 games (w6, d9, l8) scoring 27, with 29 conceded.
Wednesday have lost their last 3 games and are without a win in 7, which was enough to see Carlos Carvalhal decide to leave the club after 2.5 years in charge – an odd move, with Forest next up – given that he has masterminded 5 consecutive defeats of the Reds!
Forest secured their first draw of the season at Deepdale, which saw them drop another place to 13th, with 31 points from their 23 games (w10, d1, l12), scoring 33 but with 38 goals conceded already.
Warburton`s Reds have not won away in almost 2 months, but ended a run of 4 successive away defeats, with the draw on Saturday – they need to end a similar run of poor form against Wednesday!
Unfortunately, Andrew Madley has been appointed as the referee, which will be his 25th game in charge this season (and 3rd involving Forest), the previous games have seen him award 64 yellow and no red cards. Last season officiated 43 games, which saw him brandish 146 yellows and 8 red cards.
Mr Madley will be assisted by Robert Merchant and James Wilson, with Martin Coy as Fourth Official.
Mr Madley presided over 3 Forest games last season, which all saw defeats for the Reds, away at Brighton and Cardiff, plus the home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday. Defeats at Derby and again, against Sheffield Wednesday represent his involvement this season.
The Owls have won their last 6 games against Forest, with 3 wins and a draw in their last 4 visits to the City Ground – you have to go back to November 2012 for the last home win!
Factor in the ‘caretaker manager bounce’ and then, Andy Madley and the Omens do not look good for Warburton`s men.
Despite all that, the Bookies still have Forest as the favourites for a home win – but, having gone 29 games without a draw, who would bet against a similar 1-1 result on Boxing Day – probably the best we can hope for?
Forest welcome Chris Coleman`s Sunderland to the City Ground on Saturday, December 30th KO 3-00pm.
Merry Christmas Everyone!