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Results and analysis as Sunderland nicks crucial point and Wigan stumbles in promotion race

Three teams are battling for two automatic promotion spots, while four are battling for one in the play-offs as the season draws to a close (Author: Gardener)

SunderlandLeague One's exciting promotion race seems to offer the kind of twist that would make M Night Shyamalan blush. How else to explain an evening of frantic drama that culminated in a late leveler on Wearside that upended the race for the top six and dashed Rotherham's hopes of confirming a climb that lasted most of the season appeared in the mail? It said it all that the Millers maintained their position in the automatic promotion slots but with a nagging sense of disappointment at having become the latest victims of Sunderland's stubborn refusal to bow down to defeat. Alex Neil's side have made late goals their trademark, but this time they owed their late, uplifting equalizer to Rotherham defender Michael Ihiekwe, who inexplicably passed Viktor Johansson to level a game the Millers seemed to be steering fairly easily . That Ihiekwe was the man to score and capitalize on the lackluster Sunderland mark in a first-half header stayed true to the script of League One's tale of the unexpected. All of this means both teams face nervous afternoons on Saturday as they attempt to plot a route back to the Championship. The Millers need to win at Gillingham to keep Wigan and MK Dons in check, while Sunderland - on that point - go to Morecambe and need a win to book their ticket to the play-off party. Suffice it to say that the Black Cats need to improve, while Rotherham - hit hard in the end - will likely just need to repeat that kind of controlled performance to earn the win that's their claim of being the ultimate yo-yo club , would assert again. Having been relegated from the Championship three times in the last six years, they have secured immediate promotion twice already and, under the safe tutelage of Paul Warne, are highly sought after for a third. Promotion seemed certain until the turn of the year, but they have won just three times in 11 games and despite pledges from Chiedozie Ogbene and Arsenal loanee Jordi Osei-Tutu – the game's standout player – they failed to finish the job. Leaders Wigan are waiting for promotion after a 3-2 defeat in Portsmouth, while Sheffield Wednesday kept their play-off hopes alive with a 3-2 win, leaving Fleetwood fighting relegation on the final day. The big positive for Sunderland is that they have kept pushing and giving a crowd of more than 33,000 reasons to believe they can return to the Championship. Rotherham had most of the first half and Ihiekwe's goal was just the reward for a performance that belied their recent away form. Sunderland showed signs of returning to the game after Neil made clever changes in the second half and substitute Pritchard swept the crowd at the Stadium of Light as he hissed a free-kick into the side netting. Time was running out, but few left the stadium after their last late shows. Indeed, the moment came when Jack Clarke's free-kick was struck by Ihiekwe to breathe new life into Sunderland's promotion bid. Momentum is back with them and they head to Morecambe in good spirits but given the nature of this League 1 promotion race they must be wary of a stab in the rear.

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Jack Grealish's £100m move to Man City just isn't working

MARTIN SAMUEL: Grealish says he hasn't scored enough goals this season. He has five in all competitions for his club. (Author: Gardener)

Jack Grealish'sJack Grealish cost £100million. And when Manchester City are paying that for a player increasingly absent from their biggest games, it's not so far-fetched to think they'd pay more for one expected to come in. Well, Rice won't live up to that price because he's under-scoring as a primarily defensive midfielder. But Grealish says he hasn't scored enough this season either. He has five in all competitions for his club, as does Rice. Jack Grealish's £100m move to Manchester City just isn't working and needs to be changed. It really would have been less damaging if City had paid more for Harry Kane. Kane would have played most weeks for that. He would certainly have started against the clubs from Madrid or Liverpool in the league. Grealish no more. Pep Guardiola tried. It certainly wasn't a light-hearted signing, given that Grealish started in all of Manchester City's big games earlier in the season: at Tottenham on day one, against Arsenal, away at Chelsea, against Paris Saint-Germain and then at Liverpool on October 3. After that, Grealish won't start again in November against Manchester United and later against PSG and Arsenal. We can see that Grealish's (left) natural style isn't always what Pep Guardiola (right) desires. In the latter part of the season, he's on the bench, home and away against Atletico Madrid, for the big league game with Liverpool and in Tuesday night's all-time classic against Real Madrid. Will he start at the Bernabeu next week? If City arrive with the same game plan - and after they've scored four points, why not - then it's unlikely. Had Guardiola's players taken their chances, the tie could have been over by half-time. The game's most exciting passages saw lightning-fast passes between Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and even Gabriel Jesus. That's not what Grealish brings to the party. It slows down the game, it picks up players. It's possible to see him slash inside and take out several opponents like Mahrez did with the opening goal, but would his cross have been that perfect? Mahrez has nine assists this season while Grealish has three. Grealish (left) was on the bench in City's Champions League semi-final first leg against Real. However, the playing time difference between the two is only 213 minutes. Mahrez scores every 112.9 minutes and completes every 288.5; Grealish scores every 476.8 minutes and manages every 794.6. That's nearly nine games between each assist. Also, Mahrez has 23 goals. We can see that Grealish's natural style isn't always what Guardiola desires. Away, against Atletico, a player who could slow down the game and take his time or commit fouls would have been perfect. And Grealish certainly got under Atletico's skin, perhaps more than any City player, despite only playing 22 minutes as a substitute in the first leg. But Guardiola didn't risk it even for a second. His style of play is at its best, unlike City - there's no way they're going to adapt to him. Obviously there is sympathy for Grealish. It's not easy to fit right in at Manchester City. Mahrez was considered a work in progress in his first season. Raheem Sterling doesn't always make it either. However, neither have a style of play that seems to contradict City at their best. There's no way City is going to adapt to Grealish. Certainly if he wants more than just the best seat for all the good games.

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Champions League result, final standings and reaction tonight

Man City vs Real Madrid LIVE: Champions League Result, Full Time Score and Tonight Reaction - Relive all the action from a thrilling semi-final first leg at the Etihad (Author: Gardener)

Champions LeagueManchester City have held a narrow lead over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals after a dramatic 4-3 win at the Etihad Stadium. Manchester City have held a narrow lead over Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals after a dramatic 4-3 win at the Etihad Stadium. The Premier League leaders took a 2-0 lead in a pulsating first leg with goals from the unruly Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in the opening 11 minutes. The Premier League leaders took a 2-0 lead in a pulsating first leg with goals from the unruly Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus in the opening 11 minutes. Real responded through the prolific Karim Benzema before Phil Foden and Vinicius Junior traded goals early in the second half. Real responded through the prolific Karim Benzema before Phil Foden and Vinicius Junior traded goals early in the second half. Bernardo Silva gave City a two-goal lead but Benzema scored a cheeky penalty - his 41st goal in as many games of the season - to close the gap again. Bernardo Silva gave City a two-goal lead but Benzema scored a cheeky penalty - his 41st goal in as many games of the season - to close the gap again. Tuesday April 26, 2022 10:18pm Michael Jones This was a Champions League classic delivered with the most modern storyline. It was almost as if the last decade of the competition had been distilled, as one of the greatest players of that era was also being showcased for eternity. This was another KO game where a Pep Guardiola team should have been out of sight and another where Real Madrid should have been eliminated from the competition. There was so much in it and could have scored even more goals. It had so many dominant stars, from Riyad Mahrez to Kevin De Bruyne, but there was still one who towered above them all. That, of course, was Karim Benzema, who scored nine goals in those five knockout games alone. Tuesday 26 April 2022 7:15pm Michael Jones Raheem Sterling spoke about what it's like to face Real Madrid in the Champions League. At a pre-match press conference, he said: "We know - not just from this season but from previous seasons and history - how good they are in this competition." They scored late goals but we have players who do high There were pressure games in the course and we know how to deal with them. I think if we come tomorrow we will be fine. “Not having a game [last weekend] is an advantage for them, but at the end of the day, tomorrow matters: who is prepared mentally and physically and who wants it more? ."What happened before doesn't matter. It's a two-legged game. We can't focus on their previous games. At Etihad, we are focused on tomorrow. “Every season we are a club that wants to fight for all the big trophies. The Champions League is the one that is out of our hands and the one that we focus on. "This is a special competition. It's a competition every young player wants to be in and it was no different growing up. Man City battles past fiery Atletico to set up Champions League semifinals with Real Madrid Tuesday, April 26 2022 18:16 , Michael Jones Manchester City reached the last four after a fast and furious encounter with Atletico Madrid that came from the wrong place reasons made headlines. Manchester City did enough, Atletico Madrid didn't do much at all except turn a football game into a price war. That could mean a higher cost for Pep Guardiola as this 0-0 has both Kyle Walker and Kevin De Bruyne injured, but it's difficult to see the value for Diego Simeone. A game that finally looked set to build into a sort of grandstand finish was instead reduced to a brawl as the Spanish champions were also reduced to 10 men. However, Guardiola has changed City's character. This brought a second consecutive Champions League semi-final for the first time in history. Man City struggle past fiery Atletico to set up Champions League semifinals with Real Madrid Tuesday 26 April 2022 18:12 , Michael Jones How did the teams reach the semifinals? Real Madrid met Chelsea in one of the big European games last time out in the Champions League. It was a hard-to-believe night at the Bernabeu that should have Chelsea asking exactly how they went out. Many will rightly point to the seemingly everlasting greatness of Luka Modric and Karim Benzema, who together have evoked the connection's second sensational comeback. Chelsea should still only look out for themselves. They had won the game, going 3-0 on the evening and 4-3 on aggregate, only on fundamental sloppiness to allow Real Madrid to go 5-2 with two goals. 4 total after overtime. Two players went beyond that. Thomas Tuchel was angry. This feeling is certainly all the more profound when you feel – not for the first time – that Madrid just aren't that good. They would like to point out that they simply have the players to take advantage of any circumstance and expose each team's weaknesses, as there can be absolutely no doubts about Modric and Benzema. The France star was the match-winner again, scoring his 38th goal of the season in his 38th game and is the outstanding player of this Champions League campaign.

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Jack Grealish's £100m move to Man City just isn't working

MARTIN SAMUEL: Grealish says he hasn't scored enough goals this season. He has five in all competitions for his club. (Author: Gardener)

Jack Grealish'sJack Grealish cost £100million. And when Manchester City are paying that for a player increasingly absent from their biggest games, it's not so far-fetched to think they'd pay more for one expected to come in. Well, Rice won't live up to that price because he's under-scoring as a primarily defensive midfielder. But Grealish says he hasn't scored enough this season either. He has five in all competitions for his club, as does Rice. Jack Grealish's £100m move to Manchester City just isn't working and needs to be changed. It really would have been less damaging if City had paid more for Harry Kane. Kane would have played most weeks for that. He would certainly have started against the clubs from Madrid or Liverpool in the league. Grealish no more. Pep Guardiola tried. It certainly wasn't a light-hearted signing, given that Grealish started in all of Manchester City's big games earlier in the season: at Tottenham on day one, against Arsenal, away at Chelsea, against Paris Saint-Germain and then at Liverpool on October 3. After that, Grealish won't start again in November against Manchester United and later against PSG and Arsenal. We can see that Grealish's (left) natural style isn't always what Pep Guardiola (right) desires. In the latter part of the season, he's on the bench, home and away against Atletico Madrid, for the big league game with Liverpool and in Tuesday night's all-time classic against Real Madrid. Will he start at the Bernabeu next week? If City arrive with the same game plan - and after they've scored four points, why not - then it's unlikely. Had Guardiola's players taken their chances, the tie could have been over by half-time. The game's most exciting passages saw lightning-fast passes between Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and even Gabriel Jesus. That's not what Grealish brings to the party. It slows down the game, it picks up players. It's possible to see him slash inside and take out several opponents like Mahrez did with the opening goal, but would his cross have been that perfect? Mahrez has nine assists this season while Grealish has three. Grealish (left) was on the bench in City's Champions League semi-final first leg against Real. However, the playing time difference between the two is only 213 minutes. Mahrez scores every 112.9 minutes and completes every 288.5; Grealish scores every 476.8 minutes and manages every 794.6. That's nearly nine games between each assist. Also, Mahrez has 23 goals. We can see that Grealish's natural style isn't always what Guardiola desires. Away, against Atletico, a player who could slow down the game and take his time or commit fouls would have been perfect. And Grealish certainly got under Atletico's skin, perhaps more than any City player, despite only playing 22 minutes as a substitute in the first leg. But Guardiola didn't risk it even for a second. His style of play is at its best, unlike City - there's no way they're going to adapt to him. Obviously there is sympathy for Grealish. It's not easy to fit right in at Manchester City. Mahrez was considered a work in progress in his first season. Raheem Sterling doesn't always make it either. However, neither have a style of play that seems to contradict City at their best. There's no way City is going to adapt to Grealish. Certainly if he wants more than just the best seat for all the good games.

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Pep Guardiola fears history is repeating itself after Man City lose control in Real Madrid thriller

The Premier League champions threatened to end the tie only for Karim Benzema to bring the Spaniards to life and delicately balance the semi-final (Author: Gardener)

Man CityOf course, if you're wondering how Pep Guardiola felt about this remarkable game, considering that his Manchester City side should have ended the draw that night, it's perhaps Carlo Ancelotti's words that best explain, why it is still "alive". The Italian described the comparative - and crucial - lack of emotion in his Real Madrid team. "At the moment it's very important not to lose your head," said Ancelotti after the 4-3 victory. “That is characteristic of this team. We've seen it so many times. Because quite simply, there is no guarantee that the city can do the same. The Champions League history of this team and this manager is full of examples to the contrary; of moments when they just get out of control. The big danger for the second leg is that this draw contains even more elements than usual to encourage a similar collapse. It's exactly the kind of situation that will play Guardiola's head and could condition him into another 'tactical episode'. After all, City didn't just have control of this game. They had the tie in their hands. They should have been out of sight after half an hour and well before Karim Benzema - of course - shot the entire semi-final. City had gutted Madrid and Benzema was furious about it. So impatient that when his team finally got a turn, he absolutely sprinted over and quickly caught up with them. Benzema then provided the ultimate example by simply scoring from an unlikely position. City never had the game under the same command again. Benzema kept calm from the penalty spot and reduced the deficit to one goal in the first leg (AFP). Of course, they still had chances to win the draw that night. There were so many moments when the ball just seemed to zip over Thibaut Courtois' goal. There was even Phil Foden blocking a close-range shot after Riyad Mahrez hit the post. He was brilliant and often took performance to new levels. The touch on the run to confuse Nacho for that shot off the post was great and as wonderful in its own way as Vinicius' dummy nutmeg on Fernandinho. And yet it was one of the few moments that culminated in Mahrez being completely wasteful. For Vinicius' dummy, he almost comically sank to his knees with his head in his hands. Vinicius was still a long way from reaching his goal at this point. That theatrical reaction did not include Guardiola's footballing savvy and his anticipation of what was to come: a goal from Vinicius. There was also what he had seen before. So much of the draw had traits from so many Guardiola eliminations in the past. For him, that is the great frustration that feeds into so many moments of “overthinking”. It so happens that some of his most traumatic eliminations have come despite — and sometimes because of — some of his greatest accomplishments of all time. Consider the list up to the last time he won the trophy, in 2011. All the eliminations up until Chelsea 2012, Barcelona 2015, Monaco 2017, Liverpool 2018, Tottenham Hotspur 2019 and - most notably - Atletico Madrid in 2016 had been long Periods that were almost perfect Guardiola performances. They were career shows, just the way he wanted the game played. And yet his teams went out. They were still hostage to those moments spiraling out of control. That hangs over such a good display. That's why there's this ominous feeling about a game where, remember, City scored four goals against Real Madrid and still won. It is the fear of what might come based on the memory of what happened before. Carlo Ancelotti hugs Karim Benzema after the seven-goal thriller (Getty) There was another prominent line in Guardiola's own press conference in this regard. “You always have to play well against Madrid. You can score three goals in 10 minutes. It was an odd comment because it wasn't what happened on Tuesday night. Madrid scored after 33, 55 and 82 minutes. Guardiola has only suffered so many times. That was the story of Chelsea 2012, Barcelona 2015, Monaco 2017, Liverpool 2018 and Tottenham 2019. Now it was almost as if Guardiola was guessing something similar. It's clearly playing in his head. He now has to do what Madrid have made their own trademark. He has to stay cool. The city is ahead. Madrid, meanwhile, have the Bernabeu. "We need another magical night," said Ancelotti.

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Don Goodman fires back at Simon Jordan over comments from Steve Cooper and Nottingham Forest

The latest Nottingham Forest news from Nottinghamshire Live brings you details of the Sky pundit confronting Jordan on talkSPORT (Author: Gardener)

JordanSky Sports pundit Don Goodman has fired back at former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan over his negativity towards Nottingham Forest head coach Steve Cooper. The former Wolves striker put talkSPORT pundit Jordan live on air as they spoke about Forest who are having an incredible season with promotion to the Premier League quite a possibility. The Reds are just three points behind Bournemouth with three games to go but should they fail to finish second they are a bet on making the play-offs. Cooper already had two Championship play-off chances during his time at Swansea, but they missed each time. Read more: 'Irrelevant' - Scott Parker calls the shots as Nottingham Forest closes in on Bournemouth. But Goodman said if Forest were to miss the season wouldn't be a disaster given the work Cooper has done, having inherited a side that ended up in the championship in September. Goodman told Jordan, "They say if they lose in the playoffs that's a failure, but they were bottom when he took over. Jordan replied, "I didn't say that. When you're in the playoffs, you want to win, not turn around and say it's a great accomplishment. If you make three playoffs and lose, the observation, however harsh, that you're a perpetual loser is backed up by the fact that you have three playoffs and you've lost those three times. “That makes you a permanent loser at the moment.

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Nottingham Forest average attendance this season compared to previous seasons

Nottingham Forest have been on a remarkable run under Steve Cooper, with last night's win in Fulham meaning automatic promotion is still a possibility. That the Reds even pledged a play-off spot is amazing considering where the side were when the 42-year-old was appointed. (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestNottingham Forest have been on a remarkable run under Steve Cooper, with last night's win in Fulham meaning automatic promotion is still a possibility. That the Reds even pledged a play-off spot is amazing considering where the side were when the 42-year-old was appointed. The City Ground has been jam-packed recently, with the fact that Forest have averaged just over 27,000 players this season shows how support is fully on board with what they're seeing, a number only from Sheffield United is surpassed in the second division. Of course, Forest is one of the biggest clubs in the league, so the fans are always quick to get behind the team, especially when they're successful. However, as Transfermarkt shows, the average attendance has fluctuated over the years, most recently at over 28,000 in the 18/19 season, while it fell below the 20,000 mark in the 15/16 season. In fairness, the Forest support have been through a lot since the club were relegated from the Premier League over 20 years ago, including being relegated to the third tier. As such, no one can dispute the loyalty of the core support that has still gone to the city grounds, even if most of the time they have had to see a struggling team that is underachieved. However, now there is real momentum in what Cooper is trying to achieve and the fanbase is passionate about the football the team plays. Regardless of what happens in the coming weeks, one would expect Forest fans to regularly sell out their famous old stadium in their first full season under the manager as they prepare for an exciting era under Cooper.

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The forest has to live off the feed pressure

Ryan Yates says Nottingham Forest "need to thrive" under pressure to be automatically promoted to the Premier League. (Author: Gardener)

Ryan YatesMidfielder Ryan Yates says Nottingham Forest "need to thrive" under pressure to be automatically promoted to the Premier League. Forest, who have picked up just one point in their first seven games this season, already have a play-off spot secured. "We're going to ride the wave for as long as we can," Yates said. Two-time European champions Forest have bounced back from their worst start to the season in more than a century to fight for a return to the Premier League after a 23-year absence. In mid-September, Forest was bottom of the table and sacked Chris Hughton. Under his successor Steve Cooper, Forest have accumulated more points than any other team in the championship. They meet Swansea at home on Saturday, followed by a visit to Bournemouth on May 3 and their season ends with a trip to Hull on May 7. Asked by BBC Radio Nottingham what he would have said in September if Forest had been told he was recovering to compete in the automatic promotion race, Yates replied: "I honestly would have laughed. We've done incredible things, but we're at football's biggest club in the league and we have to be successful under that pressure. "We're the best team in the league since the gaffer got here, that speaks for itself." "We're doing so well but there's more to come personally and as a team." Victory at Craven Cottage, courtesy of Philip Zinckernagel's winner the first half was Forest's eighth win in nine games. They held on to victory against leaders Fulham despite the hosts having 75% possession and 20 shots. "If we want to move up, we have to show all sides of our game," said Yates. "We're constantly looking to improve game by game and we're looking no further than Swansea on Saturday."

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The river views and sadness of St Andrew's mark the best and worst of Nottingham Forest away days

City Ground is home to Nottingham Forest fans, but what other courses are dear to your heart? (Author: Gardener)

Nottingham ForestNottingham Forest fans show their support against Fulham at Craven Cottage. What is so important to us about football stadiums? This is where memories are made, where we regularly make pilgrimages on weekends, where individuals come together as a homogeneous mass to work towards a common goal. The soccer field plays a huge role in the local community that often goes unnoticed. For Nottingham Forest, the City Ground plays that role. It's been around for ages, it's witnessed a lot of incredible history and has hosted some amazing atmospheres over the years. But then there are other reasons that shape us, stay in our hearts forever or just make for a pleasant journey. Home of our football opponents, but who evoke warm feelings because of a brilliant victory there or a favorite event, the crowning achievement of promotion or a major cup upset. What are your favorite and least favorite soccer stadiums? We have a poll at the end of this article. Let us know what you think in our comments section. "For me, Craven Cottage is the best stadium to go to," says our local Forest fan Matthew Davies of his favorite away day at Fulham. "The old wooden seats, the riverside location (always a bonus) means it has that character that few other places have." He adds: 'I like Kenilworth Road too, although it certainly lacks the charm of Craven Cottage. Other personal favorites would be White Hart Lane and of the more modern stadiums, The Emirates shows what modern facilities can do for a club if you're willing to part with history." "When it comes to the worst of causes, Reading is lacking every soul or atmosphere and is definitely one to avoid," he says. "It's rubbish." Championship fans across the division who've been to the MadStad will agree, and the fact that it's in Select Car Leasing Stadium being renamed doesn't help his cause Birmingham City's home stadium, which is closer to home, raises mixed feelings."I have fond memories of St Andrew's, where I saw Forest win there a couple of times, including in 1998 "It's in a state of disrepair now though, with parts of the site not even open this season. As always, feel free to share your thoughts in our commentary express range.

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3 things we clearly learned about Nottingham Forest after beating Fulham 1-0

Nottingham Forest secured a place in the Championship play-offs with an impressive win over Fulham last night. The Reds knew they had to do their best to get a positive result in this showdown as their opponents looked to win the league title in front of their own fans. [...] (Author: Gardener)

FulhamNottingham Forest secured a place in the Championship play-offs with an impressive win over Fulham last night. The Reds knew they had to do their best to get a positive result in this showdown as their opponents looked to win the league title in front of their own fans. At this point we decided to reflect on that game by taking a look at three things we clearly learned about Forest after their 1-0 win over Fulham... Cooper's decision to play Steve Cook came to fruition emerged as a masterstroke considering it was Steve Cook's last Forest's opener came during the 4-0 win against Reading in March, head coach Steve Cooper knew he was taking a certain risk when he beat last night's against played defender. That decision proved to be a masterstroke, however, as Cook helped his side keep a clean sheet at Craven Cottage by winning three aerial duels and making three clearances. Having recorded a 7.01 WhoScored match rating in that game, it wouldn't be surprising if the defender retains his place in the squad for Forest's remaining league games. Forest will need Richard Laryea to hit the bull's eye if Jack Colback's injury proves serious to Richie Laryea. While the extent of Colback's injury is yet to be revealed, Forest will need Laryea to assert himself if his team-mate is unable to be present in Saturday's showdown with Swansea City as fellow full-back Max Lowe is currently struggling to get over a problem with his groin. Laryea's ability to quickly adapt to life in the Championship has made just two cameo appearances for the Reds since joining the club earlier this year and could play a key role in his side's rise. Surridge's ability to maintain his level of performance will help Forest in their hunt for second place Having scored in his side's meetings with West Bromwich Albion and Peterborough United, Surridge once again showed his ability to maintain his consistency at this level to hold as he put in another solid performance last night. The striker set up Zinckernagel's match-winning goal against Fulham and will now be tasked with leading Forest's push for the second automatic promotion spot in the Championship.

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