The return of Martin O’Neill to Nottingham Forest could be good news for the likes of Liam Bridcutt, Ben Watson and Zach Clough.

It could also spell the end of their respective stints at the City Ground.

That is the nature of the managerial change beast.

Nobody really knows what to expect.

A clean slate is generally considered to be a positive, but that is not always the case.

For those who find themselves completely frozen out, it can take much more than a fresh face in the dugout to thaw them.

A window of opportunity has been opened, though.

Whether it immediately slams shut again is up to those at the heart of the matter to determine.


(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

In Forest’s case, that means making future calls on fringe members of the fold.

For Watson and Clough the arrival of O’Neill may prove too little, too late.

The former is 33 years of age and not been seen since October, while the latter spent the first half of the season seeing little football at relegation-threatened League One outfit Rochdale.

Both also operate in an area of the field where the Reds are well stocked.

So while the thought of O’Neill and Clough together again allows the mind to drift back to happier times, it may not make a lot of sense in the present.

There could, however, be hope for Bridcutt.

And that would represent a serious reversal in fortune for a man Aitor Karanka clearly didn’t fancy.

As things stand, the former Sunderland and Leeds midfielder has seen a grand total of one minute of Championship football this season.

That puts him on par with Arvin Appiah and five behind Ryan Yates.

And like Watson, he has not figured at all since the humbling 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to Burton Albion.

There is a player there though.



O’Neill may be the manager to drag those qualities back out of the 29-year-old.

In a system which plays to his strengths, Bridcutt is capable on the ball and prepared to put his foot in.

Forest do, admittedly, have various alternatives capable of doing the same job.

Claudio Yacob is currently papering over cracks in defence, though, and Adlene Guedioura has endured a dip in form.

Could Bridcutt step back in?

There is every chance he could.

There is even a chance that Watson and Clough could be welcomed back from the wilderness.

The ‘forgotten man’ tag is a particularly sticky one, though, and a fresh start on Trentside may not necessarily apply to everyone.

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