Steve Cooper admits the huge overhaul of his Nottingham Forest (4/5 – to be relegated) squad this summer means his side are in unchartered territory when it comes to picking a starting XI.
Having earned promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs last season, Forest embarked on a summer spending spree as they brought in no fewer than 22 new players – breaking the PL record for the most signings made during a single transfer window.
The Tricky Trees have made a slow start to the season, as they have won just one of their six league games and sit 19th in the standings, but that was perhaps expected given the huge influx of players at the City Ground.
Forest have lost their last three matches, conceding 11 goals in the process, and the fact they gave up a 2-0 half-time lead to lose 3-2 at home to Bournemouth last time out is a worry for a side lacking cohesion.
A home clash with Fulham on Friday (20:00 KO) is next up for Cooper and he is fully aware he is still learning about his squad, as he strives to find out what his best starting XI is.
“Whatever team I put out against Fulham, there’s a sense of the unknown about it, because we have so many players that are new,” he said at his press conference. “Even the lads who have already played, we still haven’t done a pre-season with a few of them and all that sort of stuff.
“I don’t think we need to make all that the elephant in the room. I think we need to say, ‘this is what we are’, but it doesn’t mean we can’t win the next game or play well.”
Forest are without Moussa Niakhate and Omar Richards for Friday’s clash, while Serge Aurier is still awaiting visa approval, but midfielder Orel Mangal could feature despite suffering a setback in his recovery from a hamstring issue.
As for the Cottagers, Marco Silva has confirmed left-back Antonee Robinson is missing with an ankle injury picked up against Tottenham, but deadline-day signing Layvin Kurzawa could be handed his debut and is poised to take the USA international’s place.
The Cottagers are 8/5 to come away from the City Ground with all three points, while the draw is priced at 5/2 and the hosts are 9/5 to claim the spoils.