Martin O’Neill has revealed that Hillal Soudani will be sidelined for the remainder of the season and will return in July. The 31-year-old has been out of action since October with a serious knee injury and has recently returned to light training with Michael Dawson and Tobias Figueiredo.
Soudani has made eight appearances in all competitions since he joined Forest from Dinamo Zagreb last summer, scoring two goals, but his last appearance for the Reds came against Bolton Wanderers nearly six months ago. The Algerian international has kept fans updated on his progress through social media and should be ready for the start of the 2019/20 campaign.
O’Neill said to Nottinghamshire Live: “He has just come back. It will be pre-season before he’s fit. He’s done a little bit of work. He hasn’t joined in (training) with us at all. He’s just doing straight forward running at this minute because of his injury.
“He will be doing an awful lot of rehab. We’ve just got him back; he’s been doing rehab elsewhere, so we’ve only had him back about eight or 10 days. It would be nice to know what he can do.
“I think his last game was against Burton, in the Carabao Cup, and that’s a fairly lengthy time ago. He’ll have missed a lot of football. Pre-season, I hope that he’d be ready to join in with us.”
Forest are overstocked in attack with Martin O’Neill having Lewis Grabban, Daryl Murphy, Karim Ansarifard and Leo Bonatini at his disposal, but Soudani was no slouch prior to his move to the east Midlands. At Zagreb, he’d scored 86 goals in 196 games and netted twice in his first three appearances for Forest.
Whether fans will see the best of Soudani next season remains to be seen, however, as lengthy knee injuries are notoriously difficult to fully recover from. He’ll have two-and-a-half months before 2019/20 pre-season begins.