Nottingham Forest make the short trip along the A50 tomorrow to face Stoke City at the Bet365 Stadium.

The Reds are looking to make it five Championship games with defeat and a win could see them end the day inside the top-six.

Boss Martin O’Neill has gradually improved performance levels during the short time he has been in charge.

That was evident in Monday’s win over fierce rivals Derby County, where the Reds ran out 1-0 victors.

Ahead of the contest, we look at three keys towards a Forest win…


(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Some fitness issues might dictate minor changes to the squad but O’Neill’s team is starting to get a familiar look to it.

The back five looked brilliant against Derby and that shouldn’t be messed with.

Ben Watson was withdrawn just after the hour on Monday and hopefully, that will have been a ploy to preserve him for the trip this weekend.

Forest’s best chance of making the play-offs this season is with a settled side and O’Neill will know what difference that can make.


Silence the crowd

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Stoke are closer to the relegation zone at the moment than they are the top-six and fans are not happy.

Last week against Villa the Potters scored after five minutes, leaving Villa with an uphill battle to secure a point.

If Forest can start well tomorrow the atmosphere could turn toxic inside the stadium.

That will work in the Reds’ hands and must be part of O’Neill’s gameplan.

Stifle Joe Allen

(Photo by Jon Hobley/ MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The Welsh midfielder ran the show when the two sides met back in November.

That was when Forest played 4-2-3-1 under Aitor Karanka and he might not have such an impact tomorrow given O’Neill’s three-pronged midfield.

Whether Allen is allowed to dictate from the middle of the park is down to Forest and Ryan Yates and Jack Colback will need to be at it again.

The former Liverpool man is a vastly experienced player and on his day is still one of the best players in the Championship.

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