Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper has done some tremendous things since arriving on Trentside. Now, he faces his biggest conundrum to date and possibly a season-defining decision.
Forest defeated Reading 4-0 on Saturday to continue their push towards the play-offs. A Keinan Davis brace and goals from Ryan Yates and Sam Surridge ensured a rout for the Reds.
The win was soured somewhat, however. Steve Cook has been influential since checking in at the City Ground and he was helped from the field in the closing stages.
The 30-year-old has been fantastic since joining from Bournemouth on a free transfer. He has slotted in seamlessly alongside Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna, making a formidable three-man combination.
It looks like Cook could be missing for a few weeks. It’s never nice seeing players in clear discomfort and the centre-back isn’t exactly known for staying on the deck.
That makes it likely that the defender will be out of action for some time. At this stage of the season that won’t be ideal for Cooper.
Opportunity knocks, however. Tobias Figueiredo has been on the bench in recent weeks and perhaps he will be the next cab off the rank.
The Reds do have other options too. Loic Mbe Soh, Jonathan Panzo and even Ryan Yates are all available to drop into the back three.
Season defining decision on the cards for Forest boss Cooper
Every single player has improved at Forest under the stewardship of Cooper and that bodes well as Cook prepares for a spell on the sidelines.
Whoever gets the nod will hope to impress. The season is heading into the home stretch now and Forest can ill-afford any slip-ups.
It has to be said that Figueiredo looks the most likely to get the nod. He has been in and around the squad and also performed well when called upon when Cooper first came in.
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Panzo is an intriguing one and perhaps offers a wildcard option. He was signed in January with one eye on the future and has been on the bench in the FA Cup.
Whoever gets the green light has to be ready to step up. This is a critical stage of the campaign and the time is now for a new hero to emerge from the sidelines.
Over to you, Cooper!