June 25, 2024

Nottingham Forest need another striker like Taiwo Awoniyi and a ‘bargain’ target has emerged

Latest Nottingham Forest news as key January transfer window looms for Reds after striker’s injury

Nottingham Forest’s squad is likely to require only minor tweaking by the time January comes around.

The Reds will put an emphasis on overseeing some outgoings as they look to trim numbers. Meanwhile, they do not require too much by way of incomings.

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Good business done in the summer means head coach Steve Cooper has strength in depth. He has options across the pitch – in some cases too many, hence the focus on exits when the window opens.

But there is one area where Forest are clearly in need of strengthening. And their latest injury blow has only brought that into even sharper focus.

It could be argued back-up was already required for Taiwo Awoniyi. However, with the Nigeria international now facing at least three months on the sidelines the Reds have been left with a particularly big hole to fill.

Cooper was coy about whether Awoniyi’s groin injury would impact transfer plans when quizzed in his pre-match press conference. It would not come as a surprise if work is being stepped up behind the scenes, though.

Opta stats show Awoniyi has scored 27 percent of Forest’s goals in the Premier League since the start of last season. He is the team’s leading scorer this term with four, while he bagged 11 in all competitions in 2022/23.

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His campaign was disrupted by injury on that occasion, too. The Reds hope that the surgery he has undergone can now help him in the long-term.

In the meantime, though, they face being without him until March at the earliest. He was already likely to be missing for a spell between January and February anyway due to the Africa Cup of Nations, but that is a big – and important – chunk of time to be absent for.

Chris Wood and Divock Origi will be fighting it out for the shirt for the time being. The former is second-highest scorer with three goals so far, including the two he netted against Luton Town last month when Awoniyi was absent previously. Forest don’t always play to his strengths when he has been in the team, though; if he gets the nod to start against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday that is something the hosts must take into account.

Nevertheless, both Wood and Origi have already shown they can score goals at this level. Both can play their part and will be eager to step up in their teammate’s absence.

Neither are in the same mould as Awoniyi, though. It is not just the 26-year-old’s goal-threat which will be missed, but also his all-round play.

January can be a tricky window at the best of times. Selling teams can capitalise on the desperation of others by driving up prices, while goalscorers are often in particularly high demand. Complying with financial regulations can also be a factor.

Still, at some point Forest were going to need to assess their attacking department. Awoniyi’s injury could have added that little bit of extra urgency.

Wood is out of contract in the summer. The club will have to weigh up in the coming weeks and months what the future holds for the 31-year-old.

A decision will need to be made on Origi, too. He is on loan from AC Milan and there is an option to make the move permanent. However, the former Liverpool man has struggled to make much of an impact in his five substitute appearances so far and a recent report suggested the loan could be ended early. If that has indeed been a consideration, losing Awoniyi may well have changed the picture.

The Reds have already been linked with several forwards. Michy Batshuayi is someone they have long had an interest in. Likewise, Santos’ Marcos Leonardo has been on their radar for some time and rumours have emerged about Werder Bremen’s Marvin Ducksch.

There are some good solutions out there. Vfb Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy is undoubtedly one. Forest reportedly had their eye on him in the summer, and his is a name which is refusing to go away.

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However, it seems there would be no shortage of suitors for his signature. Talk of what has been dubbed a “bargain” £17 million release clause has put many teams on red alert, as has his red-hot start to the season. Guirassy bagged eight goals with eight shots on target in his first four league games this term – something no player at Stuttgart had managed before.

The Bundesliga’s official website has compared him to former England forward Emile Heskey. They say: “Heskey’s strong presence, pace and sometimes powerful finishing mirrors that of Stuttgart’s in-form forward. In a similar style to Heskey, Guirassy is a powerful presence in the air, boasts good close control and is capable of playing out wide to add to his team’s options.”

There is always an element of risk with any signing. Even with the best of records, there is never any guarantee a player will hit the ground running. Awoniyi himself took time to adapt to the Premier League.

The former Union Berlin man has become crucial for Forest, though. The spotlight will fall on Wood and Origi in the coming weeks. Can they provide sufficient cover? Even if they can, an Awoniyi equivalent is likely to be required further down the line.

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