Nottingham Forest fans welcomed James Garner back to the City Ground on Sunday. The midfielder helped Forest win promotion last season and he was spotted enjoying a warm embrace with Steve Cooper.
The Reds were rocked by Manchester United during the transfer window. Cooper was keen to sign him permanently but Erik ten Hag chose to take a look at him instead.
By the time United had made the decision to sell Garner, Forest had signed a number of central midfielders. As a result, they were willing to watch on as Everton signed him for £15 million.
On Sunday he was an unused substitute as Everton claimed a point at Forest. The 21-year-old made the bench for the first time under Sean Dyche and now he will hope to get some minutes.
It’s been a season of frustration for the midfielder. He injured his back earlier in the season and has made just seven appearances for the Toffees with the player yet to make the starting eleven.
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Garner was in fine form for the Reds during 2021/22. He made 49 appearances for the club and was a mainstay in the team under Cooper as Forest reached the Premier League.
Garner and Cooper enjoy warm City Ground embrace
It was really great to see Cooper and Garner enjoy a moment together. Clearly, there is a lot of mutual respect and highlights just how useful Cooper is as a man manager.
Ahead of kick-off, the pair were spotted hugging each other on the side of the City Ground pitch. There were smiles all around and it would suggest Cooper would have loved to have signed Garner.
The talented England under-21 player enjoyed two separate spells at Forest. In total, he made 69 appearances and proved himself as one of the biggest talents in the country.
It’s fair to say he will be disappointed with the season so far. He is yet to start a game and he will hope that he can change that in the near future as Everton push towards survival.
Once Garner gets going at Everton, he will hope to hit the ground running. Forest will monitor him with intrigue and they will hope they don’t live to regret not signing him.