Nottingham Forest defender Joe Worrall returned to the City Ground this week following the end of the domestic campaign in Scotland where he had spent the season on loan with Rangers.
The 22-year-old managed to hold down a regular place in Steven Gerrard’s team during 2018/19. In all competitions, he played 32 games and tasted life playing European football.
The challenge for the Hucknall-born centre-back now is to forge his way into Martin O’Neill’s first-team plans.
Given the options at Forest’s disposal, it won’t prove an easy task. Yohan Benalouane, Alex Milosevic and Tobias Figueiredo will all be raring to go next season, whilst Michael Dawson could also make a return to action.
Worrall will certainly have a part to play in the squad. Figueiredo and Dawson have proved relatively injury prone this season so competition for places will be healthy.
Former England international Dawson’s presence could be ideal for Worrall, however. The 35-year-old managed just 10 games for the Reds last season and he is well into the twilight of his playing days.
With just a year on his contract remaining, he would be worth keeping around the City Ground. If he can get himself fit, great. If not, the experience he can pass onto Worrall could bode well for Forest in the long run.
During 50 plus first-team appearances already in the first-team, Worrall hasn’t let anybody down. Playing alongside Matt Mills and Michael Mancienne is hardly ideal though. Both were haphazard at best and some real leadership next to him would be perfect.
On the pitch, Benalouane and Milosevic are both capable of helping the academy graduate through games and away from the field, Dawson could be just the role model that Worrall craves to improve even further.