Claudio Yacob could still have a part to play for Nottingham Forest during their run-in this season despite being frozen out by Martin O’Neill. The ball-winning midfielder was dropped after O’Neill replaced Aitor Karanka as manager, last featuring against West Bromwich Albion on February 12. He’s been out of the matchday squad ever since but could be in line to make a sensation return.
O’Neill said to Nottinghamshire Live: “I have a lot of time for (Yacob). I have a lot of time for him as a person and as a footballer. And he reminded me the other day that he is not as old as I thought he was. He is a terrific lad and a superb influence around the place as well. He is always very positive.
“He is naturally very disappointed that he has not been on the scene for a little while. I am not making any promises, but, for the run-in after the international break, I am hoping he will be back in the fold again. There are other players who I felt were in front of him, but his training has been terrific in the last couple of weeks.”
Yacob has made 14 appearances in all competitions since joining Forest on a free transfer. The 31-year-old was operating at the heart of the midfield alongside Jack Colback before being dropped. Stiff competition from the likes of Colback, Ben Watson, Pele, Adlene Guedioura and Ryan Yates has kept Yacob out of the side, but he may be rewarded for his efforts in training.
Forest are on a poor run of form, having dropped points in five of their last seven league games, so O’Neill might resort to a change to turn their form around. The Midlands outfit are 11th in the Championship with 54 points from 38 games, three adrift of the playoffs. The Reds next face Swansea City on March 30, but whether Yacob will make the matchday squad remains to be seen.