Martin O’Neill says Pele “needs some sort of fitness” before he’ll get minutes in the Nottingham Forest first-team. The 27-year-old joined on loan from AS Monaco in January but still hasn’t made an appearance for the Reds. He was an unused substitute against Birmingham City on February 2 but has been left out of the matchday for games against Brentford and West Bromwich Albion in the last two weeks.
In a bid to boost his match fitness, Pele played for the u23s, starting against Sheffield United on Monday with Liam Bridcutt and Jamie Ward. O’Neill explained ahead of Forest’s meeting with Preston North End that the aim was to give his new signing some minutes to improve their fitness levels, but it’s unknown if he’ll find himself in the matchday squad on Saturday.
O’Neill told Nottinghamshire Live: “Pele was playing in the game as he needs some sort of fitness.” The Guinea-Bissau international struggled for playing time at Monaco before his move to Forest, racking up less than 450 minutes of Ligue 1 football this season. With Ben Watson, Claudio Yacob, Adlene Guedioura and Jack Colback for competition in midfield, Pele has hit work cut out.
Nevertheless, O’Neill was pleased to see Pele and others turning to reserve football to improve their sharpness. He added: “In terms of attitude, to want to play in a game like that, the desire is still burning strong within them. So that is good news for a start.”