Aitor Karanka`s Nottingham Forest take a trip to The Den to take on Neil Harris`s in form Millwall.
Forest`s Manager, Aitor Karanka, gave his pre-match views at the customary press conference:
“We needed to rest the players, work on the training pitch and these last two weeks have been good as we have been able to do both of those things. The players have come back happier, but they know that we have an important month and a half ahead of us, starting against Millwall.
‘Neil is doing a very good job with Millwall and if you analyse them, they are a really good side, organised and aggressive, so it will be a tough game – but we need to think about ourselves.
Also, I do know how tough this stadium is, you can feel the atmosphere there, the crowd shouting and doing everything for their team – but, it is a chance to show how good we are at the moment, to go forward and to score the chances we are creating to win games. These are the games that I like to play, when the atmospheres are good and the players can show that they are ready to play these kind of games.”
Millwall Team News:
Byron Webster is the only long-term absentee, but Harry Smith and Ben Thompson will both also sit this one out.
Neil Harris does hope to call upon the services of Aiden O`Brien after recovering from an ankle injury.
Player to watch: George Saville
The 24-year-old Northern Ireland International midfielder is joint top scorer (with striker Lee Gregory) for Neil Harris`s side with 9 goals in 39 appearances this season.
Saville progressed through Chelsea`s academy before joining Wolves on a permanent basis in 2015, after earlier loan spells at Millwall – where he eventually returned permanently for an undisclosed fee in June 2017.
Saville has since made his international debut and impressed all season for Millwall – so, Ben Watson and Jack Colback will certainly have a midfield battle on their hands today.
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Chris Cohen, David Vaughan & Ashkan Dejagah remain sidelined by injury, with doubts surrounding Keiran Dowell, Matty Cash and Daryl Murphy, none of whom have trained fpr the past few days.
Jack Hobbs could retain to the match day squad as Aitor Karanka has hinted that he is looking to give fringe players and those currently out of reckoning (like, Rafael Fuentes, Eric Lichaj, Barrie McKay and Liam Bridcutt) an opportunity in the final 8 games of the season.
Player to watch: Lee Tomlin
The 29 year old forward has scored 3 in 8 appearances since joining Forest on loan from Cardiff, but looked jaded prior to the international break. That is understandable after featuring just 16 times all season for the Bluebirds and then making 8 appearances in just over 6 weeks for the reds.
Let`s hope the rest has done Tomlin well, as he certainly carries Forest`s main attacking threat and most would hope that Aitor Karanka can persuade him to join Forest permanently this summer.
Match Facts & Stats
The Lions still have promotion in their sights and sit 10th in the table with 58 points from 38 games (w15, d13, l10 – scoring 46, with 37 conceded) and just 4 points behind 6th placed Boro & 5th placed Derby.
Millwall have not lost a League game since the New Year`s Day defeat at Carrow Road and have put an impressive 12 game unbeaten league run together at just the right time – notably winning 6 of their last 7 games.
Forest extended their recent unbeaten run to 7 games after a third successive 0-0 draw against the Blades at Bramall Lane prior to the International Break.
The Reds are 16th in the Championship table, 13 points away from the relegation places, with 46 points from 38 games (w13, d7, l18), scoring 43 but conceding 54.
Forest have now kept 5 clean sheets since Aitor Karanka took charge – although, they have failed to score in 8 of those 12 games and are also unbeaten in their last 6 away league games under Karanka`s stewardship.
Scott Duncan has been appointed as today`s Referee, which will be his 32nd league and cup game in charge this season, the previous 31 have seen him award 88 yellows and 7 red cards. Last season he officiated 38 games, with a return of 113 yellows and 10 red cards.
Mr Duncan will be assisted by Adam Crysell and Akil Howson, with Matt Foley as Fourth Official.
The Bookies have Millwall as odds on favourites for a home win – although, their recent away form is much better than at home, where they have drawn 4 of the last 6 games.
Although relegation fears have eased and Forest have certainly looked a stronger unit defensively, the lack of goals is a worry, so an away win looks unlikely – could it be a 4th straight 0-0?
Aitor Karanka welcomes Jose Morais and his Barnsley side to the City Ground on Easter Monday (2nd April, KO – 3pm).