Nottingham Forest have had a productive summer, bolstering their squad heavily. So much so, they now have the second largest squad in the Championship (according to Transfermarkt.co.uk).
For a club that has aspirations of reaching the play-offs, or ideally gaining promotion, squad depth is key in the Championship with so many games to be played. That is why League Cup games can often come as a distraction for many clubs, wasting energy and resources on a competition they have very little interest in.
But Forest’s game against Bury at The City Ground tonight is the perfect platform for manager Aitor Karanka to play some of his signings that have not featured yet. It’s a chance to play under the club’s system without sacrificing precious points in the Championship.
Defenders Michael Hefele and Sam Byram have been signed from Huddersfield and West Ham respectively, but have not appeared in red yet. Forest have played the same back four in their opening three fixtures, excluding one game where Michael Dawson played instead of Tobias Figueiredo. Tonight is, therefore, a great chance for Karanka to not only see how his new signings perform, but rest players as well.
After finding the back of the net as a substitute at the weekend against Reading, Hillal Soudani could be in line for his first start for The Reds. He may be joined in attack by young hopeful Ben Brereton, who Karanka has said is part of his plans this season. Lewis Grabban and Daryl Murphy have both featured up front for Forest this season, so it may be a good chance for 19-year-old Brereton to stake his claim for a starting place.
Having strength in depth can damage a team as a manager struggles to keep all players content. This is why fixtures like tonight’s are crucial for maintaining harmony in the squad, as well as working out the best XI possible. Karanka should take this opportunity to achieve both.