The 2018/19 campaign ended in disappointment for Nottingham Forest. An abject second half of the campaign saw the Reds consigned to another season of Championship football.
Attention will soon turn towards next season, however.
Martin O’Neill will become the latest in a long line of managers to embark on his first full season in charge at the club. His mission is simple and his remit crystal clear. Reach the Premier League, or let someone else have a go.
After spending a substantial amount last season, a different tact might be required this time around. Despite what some ex-Forest players might tell you, the squad in place is actually pretty good.
The summer is all about keeping the better players from the clutches of other clubs and adding quality over quantity.
Opportunity knocks for youth
Following last week’s retained list, the Reds still have over 30 first-team players under contract at the club and another challenge for O’Neill is to streamline the squad.
With one of the most reputable youth academy’s in the country, perhaps the Forest boss would be better served tapping into that.
One area that has typically provided a sizeable conundrum for the Reds is at left-back. Forest now have Jack Robinson in place and he had a decent first campaign. When he misses out, however, it is usually a case of square pegs in round holes.
Danny Preston has been with the Forest academy for some time now and looks capable of making the grade with the first-team at some point.
Prior to the 2018/19 campaign, he was training with Aitor Karanka’s squad during pre-season. A first-team chance wouldn’t come to fruition, but at 18-years-old the future looks bright.
Preston would save Forest money this summer. Robinson is a good leader and he would be the ideal role model for the youngster to learn from.
The former Liverpool player featured 38 times for the Reds last season and is a reliable performer. Having Preston in and around the squad, and being included on a matchday, can only bode well for his development.
Forest need to be savvy in the transfer market this summer and promoting Preston could be a clever move by O’Neill.