Nottingham Forest slipped to their first defeat in eight league games as Preston North End won 1-0 at the City Ground on Saturday.

The Reds were forced into changes at the back after Michael Dawson hobbled off injured during the win over Ipswich Town last week.

Boss Aitor Karanka was already without Tobias Figueiredo and Danny Fox, making a reshuffle a necessity.

Jack Robinson was forced to fill the void at centre-back with Ben Osborn restored to the starting eleven at left-back. Michael Hefele, who is yet to look convincing in a Forest shirt and the in-form Tendayi Darikwa completed the quartet of defenders.

(Photo by Mick Walker – CameraSport via Getty Images)

The move was forced upon the Forest boss but it left the back four looking somewhat disjointed as square pegs in round holes reared its ugly head.

After a summer of substantial recruitment, it had been hoped that the days of players playing out of position would become a thing of the past. The Preston game, however, served to highlight a potential chink in Forest’s armour.

Squad depth suddenly tested

When all of Forest’s defenders are fit they perhaps have too many; on Saturday’s showing, however, it would seem that one or two injuries in such an instrumental area could make all the difference.

Of course, you could say the same about many other sides in the Championship. Take James Chester and Axel Tuanzebe out of Aston Villa’s team and they too would face a crisis.

The Reds’ promotion chances are likely to hinge on how many key players they have in the treatment room at any one time.

Forest face local rivals Derby County next up in a game that looks like offering a great marker as to just how serious the Reds are about promotion.

Getting some luck on the injury front, particularly at the back, would offer Forest a massive boost and give them the best possible chance of earning a win at Pride Park.

The football which Karanka’s men played on Saturday wasn’t disastrous by any stretch of the imagination.

It is safe to say that prior to the Preston defeat the Forest boss was seeing his team reap the rewards of having a settled back four and he will hope to get those players back on the pitch sooner rather than later.

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