Nottingham Forest have gone slightly retro of late in their centre-half pairing of Yohan Benalouane and Alexander Milosevic.

Both are capable footballers and well adjusted to the demands of the modern game.

They are, however, cut from an old school cloth.

We are not talking Larry Lloyd and Kenny Burns here, but there are similarities with a European Cup-winning partnership of the past.

Few relished facing Forest’s no-nonsense defensive duo in the 70s and early 80s, and the same could be said now.

Anybody preparing to face Benalouane and Milosevic better ready themselves for a battle.

In their eyes the ball is always there to be won, regardless of who may stand between them.

On the ground or in the air, you cross the paths of Tunisia and Sweden internationals at your peril.

The tougher the fight, the more they seem to relish the occasion.

There is, of course, a fine line to be trodden when adopting such an approach to keeping opponents quiet.


(Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Benalouane has collected three yellow cards and one red in his five outings to date and does have to be watched through your fingers at times.

He plays on the edge and can often appear to be moments away from scything a rival in half.

Milosevic is no more cultured and also partial to the odd booking and leaving his mark on those who dare to get too close.

A whole-hearted approach will always earn points with fans and two January arrivals have quickly endeared themselves to the Forest faithful.

There is also the promise of more to come, with Martin O’Neill demanding more than a ‘head it, kick it’ approach from his side.

He has said in the Nottingham Post: “Do you know what, I still want intelligent defenders. I want players to compete when it is there to compete.

“But I don’t want them trying to win tackles that are an impossibility for them to win; I don’t want them coming through the back of opposition players.

“In this day and age, you have a few centre forwards and midfield players who are very clever and will go down.

“Some of our tackles; some of our defending needs to be a wee bit more intelligent.”

That can be considered a nod towards Benalouane and Milosevic.

Forest also have plenty of alternative options up their sleeve.


O’Neill added: “Molla Wague looks as though he might be a decent signing, he just needs to get properly fit.

“We might get Tobias [Figueiredo] back at some stage or another and we might get big Michael Dawson back too. If some people are holding the fort at the moment, that is good news.”

Figueiredo and Dawson offer something a little different to those currently in possession of the centre-half berths.

They had also struck up a productive understanding before both suffering untimely knocks.

That, though, is what squad building is all about.

Once a shirt has been vacated, it can be difficult to win back.

Benalouane and Milosevic have just collected Forest’s first clean sheet in 12 games across league and cup action.

They have played three games together and shown signs of encouragement as more minutes are taken in.

Derby are next in their sights.

Jack Marriott, David Nugent and Martyn Waghorn be warned – Yohan and Alex are coming for you!

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