The Nottingham Forest under-23 outfit defeated Wigan Athletic 1-0 on Monday night to extend their lead at the top of the Professional Development League.

Jimmy Gilligan’s men edged out the opposition thanks to a first-half goal by striker Kieran Hayes.

The win means it now becomes six games without a defeat for the under-23s and also sees their lead at the top of the division extended to five points.

Several members of the development squad will look at the likes of Joe Worrall and Matty Cash performing regularly for the first-team and hold a desire to emulate their rise.

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

The pathway for senior stardom has always proved relatively clear at the City Ground and the academy is something for everyone at the club to be proud of.

Gilligan works alongside Chris Cohen with the under-23 ranks and they couldn’t really learn from a better role model, given the former midfielder’s status on Trentside.

One man who has been playing out of skin for Gilligan’s men this season is defender, Rezart Rama.


The right-back arrived in the summer from Olympiacos where he had been a regular for the club’s under-19 ranks last season.

In 23 games for the Greek youngsters last season he netted twice and can also operate at centre-back.


The 18-year-old may actually be closer to the first-team than anyone else on last night’s team-sheet. With Tendayi Darikwa and Carl Jenkinson both currently out injured.

An under-19 international for Albania, Rama is strong in the tackle, of good size for a full-back and is blessed with a decent turn of pace.

Cash has been a revelation at right-back this season and here’s hoping nothing does happen to him in the way of an injury.

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

Rama has shown in recent weeks, however, that he is capable of making the step up to first-team football at some point during his career.

In hindsight, Rama is unlikely to earn his first start in Sabri Lamouchi’s team this season. It will surely delight the boss and supporters alike that a player as competent as the young Albanian is emerging through the ranks and improving each and every week.


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