Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill has told the Nottingham Post that Michael Dawson is edging closer to a return from injury.
The 35-year-old centre-back hasn’t made an appearance for the Reds since the beginning of December against Ipswich Town. He hasn’t played a single minute of football under Martin O’Neill as of yet.
Dawson was close to making a return two months ago, shortly after O’Neill’s arrival. But his eagerness to get back on the pitch saw him suffer a relapse of his hamstring problem.
It’s therefore unsurprising that the Reds aren’t looking to take any risks regarding the defender’s fitness this time round.
O’Neill told the Nottingham Post: “Michael is making very good progress, he has not trained with us yet.
“His enthusiasm to get back set him back last time. There was a new manager coming in and he wanted to get out there and prove a point.
“He was not absolutely at full stretch when he suffered the injury and sometimes that can play on your mind.
“So it is best for him to get it cleared up as best as possible, so that he is ready and does not miss any more games. He is doing well.”
There’s no doubt that the Reds have missed the centre-back. He made 10 appearances for the Reds in the Championship before picking up his injury, and he didn’t suffer a single defeat.
He began to form a formidable partnership with Tobias Figueiredo. The fact that they both picked up injuries at a similar stage could be seen as one of the turnings points of the season.
O’Neill did address the centre-back injury crisis by adding Yohan Benalouane and Alexander Milošeivć to the squad. However, Dawson brings far more to the table than just his defensive ability.
He is a strong character, a leader, which the dressing room could’ve done with over the last few weeks. Having come through the club’s academy system, he understands the club and what it means to play for the Reds.
It’s a huge shame that his injury problems have kept him out again this season. The Reds would’ve had a much better chance of securing a place in the play-offs had he remained fit.
O’Neill has previously spoken to the Nottingham Post about just how influential a figure he is.
He said: “I think he can be an important figure (when he comes back).
“You cannot have the career he has had already, without being an influential figure.”