Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper praised his team’s intelligence in last night’s 2-0 win over Blackburn and afterwards claimed his admiration for an opposition player.
The head coach was beaming at the full-time whistle under the Ewood Park floodlights. Goals from James Garner and Brennan Johnson helped Forest climb into the play-offs for the first time this season.
The game did prove to be a somewhat feisty encounter. Darragh Lenihan was sent off shortly after half-time for a second bookable offence.
Forest players were on the wrong end of several naughty moments from Rovers. Boss Tony Mowbray was bouncing up and down like Tigger on the touchline but he really could have few complaints.
Cooper said drawing fouls was an aspect of the performance that he really enjoyed; whilst also confirming his like for a Rovers midfielder.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “There were so many fouls on us.
“I thought the tackle on Jack Colback wasn’t a very good one, in the first half.
“As much as I love (Joe) Rothwell as a player, I didn’t love his tackle when Jimmy was breaking through.
“It was a feisty game. I thought we did well to compose ourselves, we could have lost our heads a bit with how we were treated – especially Keinan (Davis), he was battered and bruised.”
Rothwell nearly left Ewood Park during the January transfer window. Bournemouth were keen to sign the 27-year-old but he chose to stay at Blackburn.
Now, Rovers run the risk of losing him for free, with the former Manchester United trainee out of contract during the summer.
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It may sound daft now but Forest will probably need to get themselves another midfielder during the summer.
James Garner will head back to Old Trafford, Jack Colback is 32 and Cafu could well move on from the City Ground too.
That leaves Ryan Yates and the relatively inexperienced Braian Ojeda, with Tyrese Fornah likely to be closer to the first-team fold next season too.
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Rothwell will have a clutch of clubs vying for his signature when his contract expires at the end of the season.
This season he has come of age, scoring three goals and claiming seven assists from the Rovers engine room.
As a result, Cooper might well have placed himself in the race to sign the midfielder with his comments following last night’s game.