Nottingham Forest are interested in signing former Bristol Rovers defender Tom Lockyer, according to Bristol Live.
The 24-year-old defender is available on a free transfer after turning down a new contract at the Memorial Stadium in search of higher league football. He has enjoyed a lengthy seven-year spell with the Gas.
Forest boss Martin O’Neill will be looking to strengthen his squad this summer, ahead of a stronger push for promotion next season. However, the Reds are already well-stocked in the centre-back position.
The Northern Irishman has Tobias Figueiredo, Michael Dawson, Michael Hefele, Alexander Milošević and Joe Worrall all contracted for next season.
Lockyer was a key player for the Gas again this season. He made 40 appearances in League One, scoring three goals. He held the captain’s armband throughout the campaign. Although he has predominately played as a centre-back, he can also be utilised as a right-back or a defensive midfielder.
At this stage, the report doesn’t suggest how serious Forest’s interest is. Lockyer revealed to Bristol Live earlier this week that he was in talks with four Championship clubs. The Reds may have to snap him up as soon as possible, to avoid a battle for his signature.
The Seat Pitch Verdict
It’s fair to say that it has come as a surprise that the Reds are interested in signing the centre-back. As O’Neill already has plenty of options in that area, you’d have thought he might be prioritising other positions.
However, Lockyer could be an astute signing. Having made 238 appearances for Rovers, he has a lot of experience under his belt. He has also made five appearances on the international stage for Wales. The 24-year-old is arguably yet to hit his prime, and is available for free.
Forest finished the season in ninth-place in the Championship. The defence did look shaky at times in the latter stages of the season. This was particularly evident in the run of four consecutive defeats. O’Neill will also have doubts over whether the likes of Figueiredo, Dawson and Hefele can keep themselves fit.
For that reason, it may be a sensible move to add a young, hungry defender to their ranks. Lockyer will be desperate to prove he is capable of playing at a higher level.
That sort of attitude is exactly what the Reds will need in abundance next season.