Michael Dawson was a big miss for Nottingham Forest 12 months ago when suffering an untimely injury, and has been again over recent weeks.

The Reds skipper has found himself back on the sidelines.

His absence has, however, not hit as hard in 2019-20.

That is because Sabri Lamouchi is working with a much deeper squad.

Not necessarily through choice, given what he inherited over the summer, but he has added to the ranks.

Forest were already well-stocked for centre-halves when he arrived at the City Ground.

Another was added to the pot in the form of Chema Rodriguez.

Others, such as Alexander Milosevic, were nudged down the pecking order and ultimately through the exits.

It remains to be seen what the future has in store for fit-again Michael Hefele and Yohan Benalouane.

For now, they have roles as squad players.

Contested

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Two spots in the starting XI are, however, being contested between four men.

Dawson, Joe Worrall, Chema and Tobias Figueiredo top the depth charts.

And a fine job they have been doing of that.

Two academy graduates put down solid foundations early on, with any pre-season questioning of their pairing quickly silenced.

When Dawson was forced to step out at Stoke, no leak was sprung.

Any defensive holes have been plugged.

Last year, when Dawson and Figueiredo made their way to the treatment room in quick succession, Forest flapped a little.

Benalouane and Milosevic were acquired in January, along with loanee Molla Wague.

All three fared admirably at times, but Forest were hardly watertight until the closing weeks of the campaign.

Unit

 

Only two clean sheets have been secured since Dawson was ruled out back on September 27, but Lamouchi’s men are a better unit than they were under Aitor Karanka and Martin O’Neill.

Chema and Figueiredo have impressed enough to spend much of the last month or so rotating in and out of the team.

The latter, who has been favoured on the road, was trusted with derby day duty on Saturday.

The Portuguese justified that show of faith with another assured and confident display at the City Ground.

Dawson, who was in attendance but not part of the squad, was not missed.

Lamouchi took the decision not to risk the 35-year-old, even with the opposition taken into account.

That, with another rest period upon us in the latest international break, looks to have been the right call.

There was no heart ruling head, which could have been forgiven against the Rams.

Forest no longer need to roll the dice or long for inspiration in an approaching transfer window.

They now have plenty on the books, with the sleight of hand possessed by Lamouchi ensuring that any pack shuffling is now quicker and slicker than it was in the not too distant past.

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