GAME ON – Aitor Karanka`s Nottingham Forest welcome Steve Cotterill`s Birmingham City Trentside for today`s weather beating Championship fixture.
Forest`s Manager, Aitor Karanka, gave his pre-match views at Thursday`s press conference:
“Against Birmingham, it will be tough, because they need to win games in their situation and sometimes these kind of teams come here and play their best football.
We have to look at us, we need to do our job and if we play the way we are playing, as we did at QPR, and the players enjoy it on the pitch, we should do well.
We need to win, especially at home because it is important to build some momentum and I would like to bring that loving feeling back to the crowd. I said after the Reading game that they deserve a good performance and a result at The City Ground and hopefully we can do it.”
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Eric Lichaj completes his 3 game suspension, with Chris Cohen, David Vauaghan & Ashkan Dejagah still sidelined by injury.
Jack Hobbs is back in training, but is still someway from match fitness, although Daryl Murphy will hope to be involved in the 18 after recovering from illness.
After the 5-2 win at QPR it is unlikely that Aitor Karanka will make many, if indeed any changes to the starting 11 – so, Joe Worral, Michael Mancienne and Liam Bridcutt will most likely have to settle for a place on the bench.
Player to watch: Joe Lolley
The Redditch born, 25 year old forward, predominantly a wide player, bagged his first goal for Forest in the win over QPR last weekend but more importantly, he has contributed 3 assists in the last 2 games to help Forest finally realise some of the attacking potential they possess.
The former Birmingham City academy player, will be keen to prove a point against City after being released at 16 and plying his trade in non league before joining Huddersfield in January 2014 (from Kidderminster Harriers) – let`s hope his good form continues.
Birmingham City Team News:
Jonathan Grounds & Isaac Vassell will miss the game due to injury, but Maikel Kieftenbeld is available after serving a two-game ban for accumulating 10 yellow cards.
Under fire Blues Boss and former Forest manager, Steve Cotterill will also have to decide whether to risk David Davis, who is on 9 yellows but is also a slight injury doubt.
Player to watch: Che Adams
The 21 year old Stirker, a former Ilkeston player, joined City in the summer of 2016 from Sheffield United for a fee believed to be around £1.5m.
Whilst Southampton loanee, Sam Gallagher and Jacques Maghoma represent an attacking threat – Adams, born in Leicester, bagged the winner against Forest at St. Andrews after just 5 minutes and so far he has 6 goals in 24 appearances.
Match Facts & Stats
A run of four consecutive defeats for Cotterill`s Blue Noses has seen them slip in the relegation zone, in 22nd position, with 30 points from 34 games (w8, d6, l20) with 22 goals for and 51 against.
City have lost 2, drawn 2 and won 2 of their last 6 away games – although, putting that in context for the season – they have only managed 10 points away from home this season – Bolton, with 9 away points, have the worst away record.
Forest finally managed to secure a win last weekend, just their 2nd in the last 13 games whilst also scoring 5 goals – which equalled their goal tally for the previous 12 league games.
Aitor Karanka has yet to experience a home win though, as Forest have now gone 6 games (5 of those defeats) without a win – although, the losing streak ended with the draw against Reading.
The Reds occupy 15th in the Championship table, with 40 points from 34 games (w12, d4, l18), scoring 41 but conceding 53 – however, a run of 3 games without defeat represents a mini resurgence for a Forest side that has largely disappointed this season.
Keith Stroud has been appointed as the Referee, which will be his 25th game in charge this season, the previous 24 have seen him award 103 yellow and 7 red cards. Last season he officiated 39 games, with a return of 171 yellows and 12 red cards.
Mr Stroud will be assisted by James Mainwaring and Nick Greenhalgh, with Ben Toner as Fourth Official.
Despite Forest`s recently woeful home form, the Bookies have them as favourites for a home win – but these are truly banana skin type fixtures against former manager and a Birmingham side scrapping for Championship safety, in their own poor run of form – but aiming to complete the double over Forest after their 1-0 home win in the reverse fixture.
Former Forest midfielder, David Prutton predicts a 1-0 home win, but with freezing temperatures could the midlands side from the West tame the team from the East to claim a frustrating away point, against a very nervous home team – hope it`s not (1-1), but you would not back against Forest conceding.
Forest take a trip to Carrow Road on Tuesday, 6th March (KO &-45pm) to take on Daniel Farke`s Canaries.