Nottingham Forest could have a Championship ace up their sleeve in the form of a fit-again Matty Cash.

Martin O’Neill is going to need all the cards he can get hold of over the coming weeks.

He has been playing his hand close to his chest for the most part, in an effort to keep everyone guessing.

Now, though, is the time to go all in.

Forest are going to have to take a few chances and hope for the best.

If the luck which has deserted them to this point turns, then anything is still possible.

A top-six finish is there to be shot at with eight games remaining.

In many ways, the international break has come at a good time.

Frustration was building on the back of recent performances, with match officials doing the Reds few favours.

An opportunity to both reflect and look forward has been most welcome.

Timely

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

An enforced rest period has also helped to freshen up those who were running on fumes.

And those who have only recently stepped off the treatment table.

Cash is among those to fall into that category, and his return to the fold could prove very timely.

Martin O’Neill said in the Nottingham Post of the 21-year-old when deprived of his services: “He is a player we have missed. He has scored a few goals and he was in the side when I came here. I was disappointed to see him out of the side for the length of time that he has been.”

Cash figured in the opening four games of O’Neill’s reign before being sidelined.

An Achilles issue ruled him out for over a month, until entering the fray off the bench in a 1-1 draw with Ipswich.

Cash told the Post after that contest: “I am happy to be back.  I am still in a bit of pain, but I am getting through with less pain. Hopefully I will come through after the international break feeling even better.”

Contribution

 

That is the hope.

A fresh Cash has the potential to make a telling contribution for the Reds from this point.

He already has eight goals to his name this season, with that return putting him just one behind Joe Lolley.

Another threat in the final third, plus boundless energy can prove to be most useful assets.

In many ways, his skill set could be considered more beneficial than that of the more creative influences around him.

As the battle for play-off spots intensifies, direct running may well win out over directionless dribbling.

A home-grown academy graduate will feel as though he has to make up for lost time.

And Forest don’t have much of that left.

With the clock ticking, Cash could prove to be money in the bank for O’Neill and the Reds.

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