Nigel Clough doesn’t think Mansfield Town will be completing the re-signing of Nottingham Forest defender Riley Harbottle. The centre-back spent the 2022/23 campaign at One Call Stadium and starred for the Stags.
Clough has been active in strengthening his squad for next season. Now, he’s been discussing his future transfer plans with the Mansfield Chad ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.
Harbottle is a player that the boss quite clearly has a lot of time for. He doesn’t feel as though he will be obtainable for Mansfield in the future, however, and Clough is of the belief that he will play at a higher level.
The 22-year-old is very unlikely to get a chance at Forest. The Reds maintained their Premier League status a few weeks ago and that will allow them to attract quality players once more.
Clough would love to see Harbottle back in North Nottinghamshire next season. However, he concedes that the chances of it happening look pretty non-existent.
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He told the Mansfield Chad: “I saw Riley last week but I don’t think the plan has changed for him to go to the next level. If we’d been promoted it might have been a different story.
“I don’t think we can wait either for them to say in July or August that he is available again to League Two. They are trying to get League One for him which, having played 30-odd games and scored six goals, is very understandable.”
Clough doesn’t think Mansfield will re-sign Harbottle from Forest
From a Forest point of view, this does make sense. At 22, the player needs testing at a higher level, given that he did so well with Mansfield last season.
Harbottle has one year remaining on his contract. Given his age and a lack of men’s football at this stage of his career, it’s unlikely he will get a proper chance at the City Ground.
Had the Reds been relegated, perhaps he would have had hope. Several players would likely have departed and that could have opened the door for Harbottle.
Now, his next step is unclear. Clough thinks he knows where his loanee from last season will end up and it will be interesting where Forest choose to send him during 2023/24.