Tendayi Darikwa was full of praise for Saidy Janko and Sam Byram, telling Nottinghamshire Live that he has to be at his best to keep his place at right-back for the remainder of the season. The Nottingham Forest defender added that he will “fight” for a starting role as he has “two good players behind” him in the pecking order.
He said: “It does motivate you; the fire is burning in my belly. I have two good players behind me at the minute. I have to make sure I am always ready to play, if called upon. I have to fight to keep my shirt. I think I have done that more so than last season. I think I have been more consistent. But there is also a lot more to come.”
Darikwa has made 28 appearances in the Championship this season, making one assist. He’s made 45 passes-per-game with 76% accuracy, 78 clearances, 18 successful dribbles (56%), won 33 aerial duels (46%), has created 23 chances, has blocked 12 shots and 13 crosses while whipping in 54 crosses and has averaged a tackle (49) and interception (53) every 25 minutes.
The 27-year-old lost his place in the side for a month between September and October, sitting on the bench while Saidy Janko was given a run-out, but he hasn’t looked back since making his return. Forest currently sit ninth in the Championship with 57 points from 39 games, three points adrift of the playoffs.
Martin O’Neill’s men next face Rotherham United on Saturday, April 6 and could go level on points with sides in the top-six if they win. Sam Byram is building up his fitness with the u23s but could be seen in the first-team before the season ends.
The Reds manager has a decision to make on whether to stick with Darikwa at right-back for their Rotherham clash or try something new.