Nottingham Forest boast a rich history of nurturing home-grown talent, but will the likes of Brennan Johnson and Alex Mighten be next off the production line?

Martin O’Neill has suggested that they might be.

The Reds boss is aware of the value to be found in shopping close to home.

Dipping into the transfer market is all well and good, but the academy system can be just as rewarding.

Forest have favoured that approach on a regular basis.

From the days of Des Walker, Nigel Clough and Scot Gemmill, through Andy Reid, Jermaine Jenas and Michael Dawson and into the present.

Ben Osborn and Matty Cash are established members of the Forest fold in 2019, while Joe Worrall, Virgil Gomis, Tyler Walker, Jordan Smith and Jorge Grant are seeing loan minutes elsewhere.

Then there is “one of our own” Ryan Yates.

And Arvin Appiah, who continues to knock on the senior door after committing to a long-term contract.

Those brought through the ranks have an affinity with the club that outsiders do not.


(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

A player with a Forest-first mentality is always going to be preferable to those drafted in from afar.

Supporters also have a tighter bond with those who boast their own ties to the Reds.

As already mentioned, O’Neill appears keen to keep the path clear from youth to first team.

He has gone out of his way since returning to Trentside to ensure that he has an eye across all levels.

The Forest boss has said in the Nottingham Post of Appiah, Wales U19 midfielder Johnson – who has already been linked with Everton – Mighten and Co: “It looks as if they all have a similar sort of attitude to Yates – which speaks volumes for the academy, in the sense that these players are obviously so grounded.

“I will probably praise them and find that they have got themselves in a heap of trouble now… but seriously, all of this is well played by the academy.

“He [Johnson] is a really nice footballer, definitely. One or two of these players look really promising, which is good for us.”

Back in the day, Paul Hart was the man responsible for sowing the seeds.

That baton has since passed to Gary Brazil, who continues to do a remarkable job.



There are many who would have handed him the reins on the back of one of his frequent forays into caretaker duty with the senior side.

He has, however, always been happy to head back to the academy.

Forest are reaping the rewards of that commitment to a position he has thrived in.

Not only is Brazil developing promising footballers, he is moulding fine young men.

Ability will take you a long way, but complement that with the right mentality and you are on to a winner.

O’Neill has added in the Post of those to have transitioned seamlessly in recent times: “When you look at those players you mention [Yates, Osborn, Cash, Worrall] – they all absolutely have that desire.  They love playing football.

“That is the major point. They all have a good attitude. I am very pleased with all of them.”

So he should be.

We all should be.

Especially as the Nottingham Forest Fountain of Youth appears set to keep the City Ground turf well watered for many years to come.

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