January 30, 2018.

Ring any bells?

No.

Why should it?

Most Nottingham Forest fans will have scratched said day from their collective memories.

That is because it delivered a rather disappointing 3-0 defeat on home soil to Preston.

Nothing all that notable about that.

It was, however, also the last time that Jamie Ward graced the famous Garibaldi.

Over the course of the last 12 months or so, the Northern Ireland international has been otherwise engaged.

A loan spell at Cardiff, another at Charlton, the odd outing for his country.

And lots of twiddling his thumbs doing not a lot.

That situation may be about to change.

Patient

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

As it could for another of the forgotten men at the City Ground – Liam Bridcutt.

Both would have been hoping to see the slate wiped clean once Martin O’Neill succeeded Aitor Karanka.

They have had to be patient, but their wish may be about to be granted.

Bridcutt has figured more recently than Ward, but his last appearance was in a forgettable Carabao Cup defeat to Burton Albion in October.

He has seen just one minute of Championship football – against Rotherham on September 22.

O’Neill has, however, cast an eye over those on the fringes of the fold during U23 games.

Bridcutt and Ward turned out in a meeting with Sheffield United on Monday.

The boss was there to see them and has said in the Nottingham Post: “I have said to the players here that there is a fairly decent chance – although I cannot promise it – that, between now and the end of the season, they will participate in our first team.

“Whether it is five minutes, 20 minutes or five consecutive games. That is how it will be, because I need to find out about these players as quickly as possible.

Desire

 

“I have had conversations with Liam and he volunteered to play in the under-23 game. I watched the first half of that game and he was doing fine.

“But he wanted to play, which was the same with Ward. Ward has been out on loan at Charlton and in some games he played very well. In other games perhaps things bypassed him.

“For whatever reason, the players have found themselves in this position.

“But in terms of attitude, to want to play in a game like that, the desire is still burning strong within them. So that is good news for a start.

“They are players who have been around here for a while, but who have not played a lot of football.”

So, when can we expect to see Messrs Ward and Bridcutt back in the first team?

Should they be given another chance?

It appears unlikely that either will still be knocking around in 2019-20, with the former’s contract expiring this summer and the latter probably looking for a move.

They are not part of the future.

They are barely part of the present, but both may be welcomed back from the wilderness before being banished for good.