Daily Mirror


Future so bright as starlet Johnson turns back on big-money offers, plus club-record deal for striker


PREMIER LEAGUE new boys Nottingham Forest are already seeing the fruits of their Championsh­ip play-off victory.

On Saturday, Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi joined for a club-record £17million and starlet Brennan Johnson is set to sign a new contract.

It is less than six weeks until the gap of 23 years outside of the top flight is bridged when Steve Cooper (left) takes his side to Newcastle on the opening day – and the club are in a good place. This week, as they return to training, academy graduate and Forest fan Johnson will put pen to paper on a bumper new four-year deal.

Having the 21-year-old sign is Forest’s No.1 priority, with a host of clubs ready to fork out £20m to lure him away.

It has been quite a time for Johnson. After helping Cooper’s side win promotion to the Premier League, he capped it off within a week by helping Wales to end their 64-year wait for a place at the World Cup.

Victory in that play-off final is estimated to be worth £170m to Forest and manager Cooper will be rewarded for guiding the club to what seemed like an impossible task.

When he took over, following the dismissal of Chris Hughton, Forest were rooted to the bottom with just one point from their opening seven games – now he is planning for life in the top flight. Awoniyi, 24, who scored 20 goals in 43 games for Union Berlin in his last season in Germany, is Forest’s first senior signing since gaining promotion back to the Premier League.

He said: “I’m very excited to be at Nottingham Forest. It’s always been my dream to play in the Premier League and, having spoken to Steve Cooper about our ambitions and looking at Forest with its great history, it is a club that I want to be part of.”

England keeper Dean Henderson is also close to joining Forest from Manchester United – which looks likely to be a season-long loan with an option to buy for £20m.

Defender Joe Worrall, who was a £15m target for West Ham and Leicester, also looks set to stay.

Scott McKenna, a £3m signing from Aberdeen, was a revelation last season and well worth the extra £1m Forest have just had to pay the Dons because of a promotion clause inserted in the deal.

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