Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper has admitted what he’d love Joe Lolley to achieve between now and the end of the season.
In an interview with Nottinghamshire Live, the Welshman has confessed that he’s an admirer of Lolley; although he’s thrown him down a gauntlet ahead of the business end of the campaign.
The 29-year-old has endured a frustrating campaign. He has made just 16 appearances and registered just a single assist in the way of goal contributions.
Lolley hasn’t featured since playing the last 24 minutes of a 0-0 draw against West Brom back in November.
He’s been injured since and has missed the last 10 games before making a surprise return to the matchday squad for Sunday’s 4-1 win over Leicester in the FA Cup.
Cooper has been full of praise for Lolley. He has, however, thrown down a challenge to the man who has played 157 times for Forest during his time at the club.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “It’s not for anyone to get him back to his best, it’s down to him. We can support him but in the end, he’s got to do it. It’s his responsibility.
“He has to get himself to the level he needs to be at. He’ll get all the support in the world here but he’s got to do it.
“In training, he’s looked really good. He’s building his fitness and his sharpness, as normal. It’s been good to have him back and he’s trained well.
“Hopefully we can continue with that and he can offer us something between now and the end of the season – we’d love that.”
Challenge: Time for Lolley to shine for Forest
It’s two years to the day since Lolley produced a masterclass to help the Reds defeat Leeds at the City Ground.
Shortly after that, the world paused as the pandemic swept across the globe. When football returned, Lolley scored important goals behind closed doors against Sheffield Wednesday and Derby.
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He was, however, unable to help the Reds into the play-offs and during 2020/21, he suffered from something of a hangover from that failure.
Lolley has proved his worth though. He’s been a good servant to Forest and he cares deeply about doing well for the club.
The challenge for the experienced performer is now clear and the ball is firmly in the player’s court.