With seven players out of contract next month — and three loans coming to an end — it spells another summer of squad building for Nottingham Forest
The season may have only just ended but the new manager is already making changes for the next campaign. Guy Moussi and Marcus Tudgay appear to have already left the club, judging by their tweets, and it’s fair to assume Ishmael Miller, Simon Gillett and Gonzalo Jara Reyes will follow. Jonathan Greening, at 35, is unlikely to extend his playing career but Stuart Pearce may offer him the chance to continue his coaching role, while Matt Derbyshire is the only player who might have earned the chance for a new contract (although his wife’s tweet suggests otherwise).
Kevin Gomis, with just one appearance, certainly won’t be returning. Rafik Djebbour, who was believed to have signed a two-and-a-half-year contract, appears to have only been on loan initially and has rarely featured. Lee Peltier is, perhaps, the only loanee who might be given another opportunity under Pearce.
Danny Fox, signed on loan with a permanent move agreed, is likely to sign his new contract as back-up left-back to Chris Cohen, which might raise a question about Dan Harding’s future.
And with reports suggesting Pearce is planning a streamlined squad of 23-24 anyway, there might not be a lot of signings but a focus on quality over quantity; many fans will point out our first-choice matchday squad doesn’t require many additions.
The back five of Darlow, Lichaj, Hobbs, Wilson and Cohen has adequate replacements in de Vries, Lascelles, Fox, Halford and possibly Peltier. Danny Collins has a year left on his contract but turns 34 in August and, without injuries, could see opportunities limited.
The midfield of Andy Reid, David Vaughan (set to sign a permanent contract on 1 July), Henri Lansbury, Jamie Paterson and Jamie Mackie is perfectly capable of competing with the best in the Championship. And the emergence of Ben Osborn and Stephen McLaughlin — with the likes of Blake and Rees waiting in the wings — mean the addition of pace and width are the only missing components; Lloyd Dyer is the latest name to be linked. Again, questions remain over Radi Majewski and Djamel Abdoun given their lack of action recently.
Upfront is where we struggled this season and where Pearce has already identified as his first priority. Blackstock, Cox and Henderson are our only remaining recognised strikers and it’s understood the likes of Coventry City’s Callum Wilson and Peterborough United’s Britt Assombalonga have been watched. Signing the elusive 20-goals-a-season-striker remains the Holy Grail of the Championship and will no doubt be where much of this summer’s budget will be spent.
Based on this season, there’s no question that without injuries our defence and midfield are good enough to challenge — it’s scoring goals that has been our problem. And a change of manager and tactics may help us in this department regardless.
The backroom staff is beginning to take shape with Brian Eastick, who worked with Pearce during his England Under-21 tenure, expected to join while Steve Wigley, his right-hand man at Manchester City and the Under-21s, is currently academy manager at newly-relegated Fulham but might fancy returning to his old club.
Pearce doesn’t officially start until 1 July but is clearly already getting his feet under the table for next season, having had talks with Fawaz Al Hasawi. And the owner, in an extensive interview with the Guardian’s Danny Taylor, stressed he is keen to back his new man: “I don’t remember one time when a manager asked me for a player and I didn’t try to get him. We did everything for Billy Davies we could. And it will be the same for Stuart Pearce. Whatever he wants, he will have. Next season I am going to bring everything for this manager.”