Nottingham Forest are back in Championship action tonight as they face Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Martin O’Neill’s side suffered a damaging defeat against Rotherham United at the weekend. This all-but ended their hopes of making the play-offs.
The Reds currently find themselves five points off the top six, with just six games remaining. There’s no doubt that there is little room for error if they are able to give themselves a chance.
It’s not going to be an easy task to get back to winning ways against the Owls. Having lost against Aston Villa at the weekend, Steve Bruce’s side will be desperate to respond.
Considering how poor the Reds have been away from home, the Owls will be favourites to win this match. O’Neill is yet to register an away win as manager of the club, with the Reds only having won three away all season.
Ahead of tonight’s game, Seat Pitch has taken a look at three players that the Reds will have to deal with if they are to secure the three points.
There’s no doubt that Barry Bannan has established himself as one of the best central midfielders in the division over the past few years. It hasn’t been the 29-year-old’s best season, but that was largely because Jos Luhukay’s style of play didn’t really suit him. Bruce clearly rates him highly, shown by the fact that he’s been ever-present for him so far.
He has recently been utilised as one of the deep-lying midfielders, alongside Sam Hutchinson. Despite the fact he has played in a deeper role this season, he has still managed to pick up three goals and nine assists. The Reds will certainly have to limit the amount of time he gets on the ball.
One of the main positives at Hillsborough recently has been the return of Gary Hooper. The 31-year-old striker had spent 16 months on the sidelines through injury, but has finally returned to first team action. He managed to find the back of the net on just his second appearance since his return against Aston Villa at the weekend.
The ex-Norwich City striker has shown consistently that he can find the back of the net in the Championship. Considering his contract is up at the end of June, he’ll be looking to do enough to earn a new deal. For this reason, he could prove to be even more of a threat than he would normally.
As the likes of Hooper and Fernando Forestieri have missed significant periods of the season, the emphasis has been on Steven Fletcher to deliver the goods. The 32-year-old striker has been able to do this, scoring 10 goals and also picking up two assists. He remains a real threat in the air, and the Reds will have to keep an eye on him from set pieces.
Fletcher has formed a very good partnership with Hooper at Hillsborough, and they are finally back together. If the Reds can stop them, then they have a good chance of securing a positive result.