Karim Ansarifard opened his Nottingham Forest account with a well-taken goal against Hull City at the weekend.
The 28-year-old striker has made seven appearances for the Reds since joining in November. But it’s fair to say it wasn’t until this particular substitute appearance that he showed what he’s capable of.
Within the space of 17 minutes, he’d picked up a goal and an assist to turn the game in the Reds’ favour.
After both Daryl Murphy and Léo Bonatini struggled against the Tigers, Ansarifard did his chances of future opportunities no harm whatsoever.
The Reds face another important game against Aston Villa on Wednesday. Martin O’Neill may be tempted to throw him into the starting line-up.
O’Neill’s decision to introduce both Ansarifard and João Carvalho gave the Reds a new lease of life in the last half an hour. It could’ve easily ended in a goalless stalemate if it wasn’t for the impact they made.
Carvalho has picked up a lot of plaudits for the quality of his strike to break the deadlock. But without Ansarifard’s clever lay-off, he’d never have been able to produce that moment of quality.
The Iranian international was able to get himself on the scoresheet just four minutes later. It was a well-taken goal after Joe Lolley’s effort hit the post. It’s encouraging that he was in the right place at the right time.
Not only did he pick up a goal and assist, but he looked sharp throughout, whilst he has the mobility which neither Murphy or Bonatini really offered.
Murphy looks like he needs a rest after playing a lot of football, whilst Bonatini stills doesn’t look match fit. For this reason, it may be a good idea to give Ansarifard a chance from the start.
At the same time, he’s such a good player to bring on when the opposition are tiring, so it could be a better option to continue using him as an impact substitute.
Grabban is still first-choice
Lewis Grabban could be back in contention for this week’s game. This would mean that Ansarifard would have to settle for a place on the bench again. There’s no doubt the top scorer remains O’Neill’s first choice striker.
The 31-year-old had another injection to help alleviate his Achilles problems last week. He wasn’t too far off being available at the weekend.
Whether or not O’Neill is willing to risk him in this game remains to be seen.
Speaking to the Nottingham Post last week, the Northern Irishman said: “He is making good progress and he has reacted well to the latest injection.
“He is feeling better within himself. You don’t want to step things up too quickly and end up having him miss another couple of games.
“We are looking at the run-in we have and trying to make sure that, unless he picks up another type of injury, that he has overcome this problem and that he is ready to go.”
If Grabban isn’t fit, then many supporters will believe Ansarifard should be picked ahead of Murphy and Bonatini. If O’Neill opts to play two up top, then that’ll boost the Iranian’s chances of being in the starting line-up even more.