Nottingham Post

Elanga could be key for Reds at Goodison



NOTTINGHAM Forest’s Premier League status hangs in the balance as they approach their final five games of the season.

Ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash with relegation rivals Everton, the Reds are one point above the bottom three. There will be much at stake when Nuno Espirito Santo’s side take to the Goodison Park pitch.

With all eyes on an important fixture, there was plenty to talk about when Forest reporter SARAH CLAPSON held a live Q&A on our Reds Facebook page. Below is a look at how it panned out.

■Q: Watching Everton the other day I hope we have Anthony Elanga back because pace can cause them problems. Not looking forward to their set-pieces though.

A: Agree on both points. I know I sound like a broken record on setpieces and I’m sure everyone is tired of talking about it, but it is such a big problem.

It was a problem last season and it has been a problem all of this season. Steps were taken to address the issue by bringing in a set-piece coach, although the suggestion is Simon Rusk hasn’t really been involved with the first-team under Nuno.

Steve Cooper couldn’t solve the problem. And Nuno hasn’t been able to solve the problem.

Nuno said after Saturday there wasn’t a problem with the organisati­on at set-pieces on that occasion and it was down to individual mistakes. Whether it has become a psychologi­cal issue for the players, only they will be able to say.

The big issue is the rest of the Premier League are well aware of it. Everton will be, for sure, because they are set-piece specialist­s. It could be a really decisive part of Sunday’s game. Forest have got to deal with it.

I do think if Willy Boly is fit, he would make a difference. I suspect the likelihood is he will not be, though, as Nuno said last week he didn’t know when Boly would return.

Might it be worth going three at the back against Everton anyway? Bring Moussa Niakhate in, perhaps?

On Anthony Elanga, I thought he was missed against Wolves – even though Gio Reyna did well on his first start. Agreed, Elanga’s pace has the potential to hurt Everton.

Forest were hopeful Elanga would be back in training this week as it wasn’t a serious injury. We should find out more from Nuno on Friday.

■Q: Why is Ryan Yates still getting picked please? Does he have explicit photos of Nuno?

A: The last two games, Ryan Yates certainly hasn’t been at his best.

He made a couple of errors on Saturday. There was the mistake after the pass from Matz Sels and then Wolves’ goal.

On the first, I’m not sure it was the best of passes from Sels in the first place. On the second, I thought Andrew Omobamidel­e should also have done better.

Aside from those two points, I actually thought early on Yates was doing OK. Maybe I am alone on that front, though.

Still, taking into account those two moments it wasn’t his best game. And he also didn’t have the best of times against Tottenham Hotspur.

Against Fulham, though, he was great. His partnershi­p with Danilo worked really well. So I can’t say I agree with the suggestion, as I’ve seen some people say, that Ryan Yates is a terrible footballer and he should never play in the Premier League again.

He has had some good games. Some games will suit him better than others but I still think Forest need a Ryan Yates type player in the squad.

Having said that, would I consider making a change in midfield for Sunday? Yes, probably. Nicolas Dominguez made a difference when he came on last weekend. I would actually like to have seen Dominguez used more in recent weeks.

It is a tough call to make, though. Everton may well be a Ryan Yatestype game. A battle and a scrap, where you need players to dig in.

If you are going on form from last weekend, Dominguez and Danilo are probably the pick of the midfielder­s. But it is a difficult choice to make. The midfield remains a problem area; Nuno hasn’t been able to find a settled partnershi­p and get the balance right consistent­ly. Even if a change in midfield is the best option for Sunday, I certainly wouldn’t rule Yates out from having a role to play in the run-in.

■Q: Never mind Yates, why does Divock Origi even make the squad?

A: That moment on Saturday where he could have shot but tried to find Chris Wood and got the pass all wrong was so frustratin­g. It was such a big moment in the game.

Divock Origi hasn’t really made the impact it was hoped he would. I can’t think of too many standout moments from him.

Nuno has taken a bit of time to get there but I think he has finally settled on the three of Elanga, Morgan Gibbs-white and Callum Hudsonodoi as being first-choice, supporting Chris Wood.

Obviously the injury to Elanga meant a change had to be made last week but it was telling that Nuno went with Gio Reyna for his first start.

In terms of the attacking options he had to bring on, though, Nuno didn’t have many. With Elanga and Taiwo Awoniyi out, his choices were limited.

It didn’t work out but I can see

why he brought on Origi and Rodrigo Ribeiro when he decided changes were needed – he didn’t have anyone else.

I don’t see how Origi works his way back into the starting 11, though, unless it is down to injuries or unavailabi­lity. He has shown in the past what he can do but his loan spell at Forest has been disappoint­ing.

Neverthele­ss, Nuno is still going to need him during the run-in because he needs as many options as possible – it is just that Origi’s role is most likely to be from the bench.

■Q: Ibrahim Sangare has shown no heart, desire, passion, effort to get in the team. Complete passenger, first one out of the door in the summer.

A: Maybe I’m being naive but I still believe there is a player in there. He has clearly needed time to adapt to the Premier League and its physicalit­y and speed.

There are so many examples of players who found it tough in their first season in English football, particular­ly in the top flight, but eventually found their feet.

Orel Mangala was much improved this season and Taiwo Awoniyi also needed time to adjust. You can go back through the years and find examples at other clubs, too.

I’d like to think that next season, maybe with a good pre-season under his belt, Sangare can show what he is about.

A lot of what happens with transfers in the summer will be affected by which division Forest are in. But either way, they are going to have to oversee some sales.

If they stay up, though, I can see Sangare being given the benefit of the doubt. He is the club record signing, after all.

He arrived with a lot of hype and Forest saw him as someone who could help transform the style of play. That hasn’t happened but I still don’t think he can be completely written off just yet.

Part of it is also settling on the right midfield partner for him. As mentioned earlier, the centre of the pitch is an area in need of sorting out.

I do think Sangare has got his work cut out to get in the 11 for any of the remaining games, though.

■Q: If we can channel that first half against Fulham we’d give any team a run (they’ve got it in them).

A: Absolutely. The first half against Fulham was magnificen­t; so many good individual contributi­ons but also a fantastic team performanc­e.

That is what it is going to take – you need individual­s to do their bit but it also needs to be a collective effort.

Forest played well collective­ly that day. Everybody did their job.

That is the standard. Forest have shown they are capable of it, they have shown what they can do under Nuno, now they need to keep doing it.

 ?? PIC: GETTY IMAGES ?? Anthony Elanga could return from injury for Nottingham Forest as they prepare to face Everton on Sunday.
PIC: GETTY IMAGES Anthony Elanga could return from injury for Nottingham Forest as they prepare to face Everton on Sunday.

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