Aitor Karanka frequently played around with his centre-backs earlier in the season, switching been left-back pair Danny Fox & Jack Robinson in a makeshift role, Tobias Figueiredo, Michael Hefele and Michael Dawson, but it appears he’s found a partnership worth settling on for the time being – Figueiredo and Dawson.
With Figueiredo being mostly a regular fixture at the back, starting four of Forest’s five league games before picking up an injury and returning to the starting eleven when fit, it was down to Dawson to convince Karanka into making a tactical decision. The veteran defender has struggled at times this season, but he’s been a familiar face and late and could be key in Forest’ hunt for the playoffs.
Dawson has made a total of six Championship appearances since returning to the City Ground from Hull City over the summer, five of which have come since early October. Karanka trusts the centre-back and appears to be getting the desired response. Dawson has helped Forest keep three clean sheets in his last four league outings to somewhat change fans’ perception around.
His form hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done enough to edge himself ahead of Hefele in the pecking order. Dawson should start at the heart of the defence against Stoke City on Saturday.