What we’re talking about – February
With the transfer window closed, a surprising leap in the league table and the Forest soap opera/ slapstick comedy rumbling on, here’s what we’re currently debating…
I had originally planned to do a repeat of an article from last year about who is out of contract, who we should keep etc. However, after a few years effort, it looks like Clough has got the situation exactly how he wants it. By my reckoning, the only senior players we have out of contract are Ben Davies, Gareth Roberts, Conor Doyle and James Bailey.
Ben Davies may well go as he started the season outside the squad and is unlikely to be any better off next summer, despite forcing his way back into the team over Christmas. However, he is one player who can change a game if given the chance and I wouldn’t begrudge him another year. On balance though, its hardly worth it for us or him.
A new left back is probably high on the shopping list and like Ben Davies, is there any point in Robbo hanging around when he could get 40 games at Tranmere (for example). His lack of versatility probably means he wouldn’t be kept on for just his experience alone, so its a shake of the hand and “thanks”.
As for Conor Doyle, I could probably copy and paste what we said last year. Clough obviously sees something and he is performing well and scoring for the U21s. Clough said he had to force his way into the team this season and although he started at Huddersfield, he hasn’t started or been used as a meaningful sub since. Probably time to try his luck on mainland Europe.
Its difficult to see a way back for James Bailey. It seemed inconceivable that we’d be giving him away after his first season but now it looks inevitable. It will be interesting to see the calibre of clubs that come in for him after a decent season at Coventry and if we sell Hughes, Bryson or Hendrick, Clough might have to dig out his number!
On top of that, it looks like we could have a bumper crop of graduates from the youth team this season, with 5 or 6 likely to get contracts, rather than the usual 2 or 3. With Freeman, OB, Gjokaj and Hoganson pushing on, we might also see a few other squad men under pressure.
Clough mentioned bringing in 2 or 3 for next season, possibly on loan in advance. A left back has to be top of the list, with all due respect to Robbo who has had a decent season but won’t carry on forever. Consensus seems to be a centre back and striker. I’m not sure myself, I think the time for a defender may have passed with OB finding form and Barker here for next season (?). Ward and Sammon look a good partnership so perhaps a young striker to push them but can’t see us signing someone to replace either.
There’s plenty we could say but I’ll save it. One point is though, they have been dishing out long term contracts to reserves (Blackstock 4.5 years and Majewski 3.5 years) but not paying out any fees with Ward, Burke and Boyd deals hitting the buffers. I can’t help thinking the owners aren’t really bothered who is paying Blackstock and Majewski’s wages in 3 years as long as its not them.
I’ve been saying for weeks that someone in our pack of teams has to win 5 or 6 on the bounce to propel themselves into the top six. I don’t realistically think it will be us but its not impossible. We haven’t had a great run this season yet – maybe we won’t or maybe we might just put some pressure on those above us. One thing is for sure, we really should be top 8 looking at some of the teams around us.