Nottingham Forest notebook: Survival pledge, Hudson-Odoi 'turning point', Williams wanted

Ryan Yates (centre) celebrates scoring for Nottingham Forest against Sheffield United with Chris Wood and Anthony Elanga
Ryan Yates (centre) celebrates scoring for Nottingham Forest against Sheffield United with Chris Wood and Anthony Elanga -Credit:Getty

Nottingham Forest’s survival hopes will now come down to what happens on the pitch after the club lost their appeal against their four-point deduction for breaching financial rules.

The appeal board upheld the original decision, meaning the Reds remain three points above the relegation zone with two games to go. Last weekend’s 3-1 win over Sheffield United was a big step towards safety, but now Nuno Espirito Santo’s side need to finish the job.

On Saturday, they take on Chelsea in their final home game of the season. Ahead of the City Ground clash, below is our round-up of the latest goings-on Trentside.

READ MORE: Fresh challenge revealed as statement made on Forest appeal defeat

READ MORE: Why Forest failed in points deduction appeal

Sink or swim

It is crunch time for Forest as they look to get over the line and retain their Premier League status. And if they do, Ryan Yates has joked he will go for a dip in the Trent.

The midfielder finally got to wheel out his swimming celebration when he scored his first top-flight goal against the Blades. It had been some time coming, with Reds fans not getting the chance to follow through their chant about diving in the water “if Yatesy scores”.

Sensible as ever, Yates has urged caution. But maybe if survival is secured…

Asked if he would be jumping in the Trent at any point, the Nigel Doughty Academy graduate said: “I think it’s a bit dangerous to be fair! So if you do that, please be careful, but when we’re safe I will.”

And the skipper is confident Forest can get there by being on the front foot in games. Aided by the return of Taiwo Awoniyi from injury, he believes this side has goals in it.

“Ever since the manager came in, every team-sheet has been really positive with an attack-minded team,” he said. “When you do that, you force your own luck.

“When you put talent with attacking players – and of course a lot of young players are going to make mistakes – but with games you see how much Callum (Hudson-Odoi) is growing and Anthony (Elanga) as well. His numbers have been fantastic and Morgan (Gibbs-White) as well – those three are such exciting young players and with the experience of (Chris) Wood and Taiwo coming back it’s really exciting for us. When Taiwo’s fully fit, he’s a handful for any defender.”

Star duo

Speaking of Hudson-Odoi, after his Bramall Lane brace he was named in teams of the week by both Harry Redknapp and Garth Crooks. The latter also picked out defender Willy Boly for his XI.

Crooks mentioned Boly’s tackle on Gustavo Hamer that helped pave the way for Hudson-Odoi’s second goal. And he said in his BBC column: “Sheffield United had a real go at Forest and it took some impressive defending by Boly in particular, and backed up by Murillo, to keep the Blades at bay. Boly and Murillo were superb at Bramall Lane and their presence will be crucial in the club's remaining two matches against Chelsea and away to Burnley. If they win either they are home and dry in my view.”

On Hudson-Odoi, Crooks said he looks like a player who “has got his mojo back” thanks to his City Ground move being “a turning point” in his career. He said: “There is no doubt about the talent but there were plenty over his lack of grit and ability to fight, especially when things were going against him. However, his time at Forest has shown a different side.”

Redknapp told BetVictor: “He (Hudson-Odoi) was so highly thought of in the academy at Chelsea, but it just never seemed to quite happen for him. The talent has never been in question, he just needed the chance to really show it.”

Williams wanted

Nuno will be sweating on the fitness of Neco Williams for the meeting with the Blues after injury ruled him out last weekend. If he does not get the green light on Saturday, it is hoped the Wales international will be fit to face Burnley.

Williams has been in fine form of late, resulting in him being crowned Forest player of the month for three months running. And it is no surprise he has his admirers.

Wrexham executive director Humphrey Ker has singled out the right-back as one player he would love to sign one day. But he accepts that day is not yet for the Welsh side, who have secured back-to-back promotions and will be in League One next season.

“So in the past, I've been asked this question (and) I've often cited sort of a Neco Williams as one, you know, he's from the area, he's a Premier League quality right-back, plays for Wales,” Ker told Sport Bible when asked about his dream signing. “The day we are signing players like that will be a sign of how far we've come.”

O’Brien interest

The summer will bring with it the need for many decisions to be made at the City Ground. It will be a big transfer window for the club, whichever division they find themselves planning for.

The futures of a number of players will be reviewed. One of those concerned will be Lewis O’Brien, who has spent the campaign on loan at Middlesbrough.

The midfielder has already hinted he would be open to a permanent move to the Riverside, although boss Michael Carrick previously suggested it might not be as simple as that. And it seems there is likely to be competition for O’Brien’s signature.

Relegated Sheffield United and Preston North End are both also keen on the 25-year-old, according to Sun journalist Alan Nixon, via his Patreon site. Whether Forest are prepared to let him go is likely to depend on whether they secure another season of Premier League football.

New deal

Teenage striker Esapa Osong is viewed as a bright talent at the Nigel Doughty Academy. A run of impressive form for Warren Joyce’s B team has seen him rewarded with a new contract.

The 19-year-old has penned a two-year deal, keeping him tied to the club until 2026. It comes after a hot streak of five goals in six matches as Forest reached the Premier League 2 play-off quarter-finals and narrowly missed out on a place in the Premier League Cup final.

"We are delighted that Esapa has signed a new contract with the club and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity to continue his progression as a player with us,” head of academy Chris McGuane said. "Since making his first team debut at Old Trafford against Manchester United he has continued to work hard at improving in all aspects of his game and he continues to be a real threat in front of goal. We are really looking forward to continue working with Esapa to help him reach his full potential as a player."

Osong joined the Reds in November 2017. His first-team debut came last season, when he was a substitute in the 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat at Old Trafford.

Are you confident Forest will stay up? Have your say in the comments below