Joe Worrall was insistent that his future remains at the City Ground, as he revealed his long term ambitions at Forest’s pre-Hull press conference this week. The Reds travel up north to face a Nigel Adkins side that are winless in seven league games, but continuing a steadfast record in the FA Cup which has seen them get to this stage of the competition in all but one campaign since coming runners up in 2014.
Forest’s injury doubts don’t extend beyond Daryl Murphy’s absence for the weekend, although Liam Bridcutt is to start his suspension. An eye infection for Worrall, however, shouldn’t cause any more concern than it did in the press room, despite it forcing him to miss training recently. Somethings tells you that an issue like that isn’t going to keep this lad from playing for the club he is clearly so fond of when he speaks.
All the players, the staff and the fans know that I’m Forest.
That much was clear when he was probed over transfer speculation linking him away from Forest. Whilst fans have had to bear prized assets being sold in recent seasons, the new ownership and coaching team feel like a safe pair of hands to stave off interest in the academy graduate, who has become a cornerstone figure in his team. To right uncertainty over his situation, Worrall said:
“I have no intention of going anywhere. I turn up to training everyday, and everyone knows that I’m committed to the cause. All the players, the staff and the fans know that I’m Forest. I love playing for the club and I don’t want to leave.”
The 21 year old has even had to settle his father’s questioning over where he will be come the end of the transfer window, and explained how he stops the rumours from distracting him from his job:
“I’ll just get my head down and work hard in training everyday. Rumours are flying about, but I’ll be happy as long as I’m wearing a Forest shirt.
I’ve got my own ambitions with Forest, and for me to leave now would be silly.”
"Each player knows whether they're going or they're not. And I know that I'm not going."
— Impact Sport (@ImpactSport) January 25, 2018
The centre-back has often been spoke of in terms of becoming a future captain of the club. He is one of the more vocal and openly passionate members of the squad, and even without the armband is clearly a leader out on the pitch. He outlined his own vision, which intrinsically makes him want to remain a Forest player:
“I want to cement my place on the team sheet, and I want to captain the club when I’m older. I got a little taster earlier in the season, but now I want to make it a permanent thing.”
In reality, he was playing down his current reputation at the club. He is already one of the first names on the team sheet – perhaps due to a lack of competition but that is not to say his recent string of starts has been unwarranted. Worrall is becoming more consistent and adept to the Championship with each game he plays.
If Forest’s win at Wolves is anything to go by, Joe and his central-defensive partner Michael Mancienne can expect a long overdue upturn in their clean sheet tally under new manager Aitor Karanka. The Spaniard coached Middlesbrough into doubling their defensive strength when he went to the Riverside, as stat that will be music to the ears of all concerned with Nottingham Forest and their loose defensive performances in recent seasons.
Worrall had much to say about his new boss, too. When pointing out that Aitor Karanka won more European Cups as a player than the club he manages have won, Worrall noted how the pedigree of the player he was comes through in his coaching – adding, however, that “he’s not as hands on as some managers have been”:
“He sits back and watches training a lot. The other coaching staff work with us and he’s always at the side watching, so you have to still be working to impress him.”
Turning to the FA Cup game on Saturday again, Worrall tackled the question of who he wants to face should Forest get past Hull:
“You just want to progress as far as you can really. Everyone rubs their hands together wanting a Prem team, but we’ve already had that and we brushed Arsenal aside.
“Whoever comes up against us, it would be nice to play at home again. But we need to beat Hull first, so we can’t be getting too lary.”
Whilst his manager took a similarly reserved tone, before praising the support he received since coming in and outlining the importance of such incredible backing to what the club wants to achieve:
“The main thing for me is to try to forget as soon as possible that we won on Saturday. It was nice, but if we now think that because we beat Wolves every single game is going to be easy then we are making a big mistake.”
“I love it. It is the thing that I wanted when I came here; that the crowd started to believe in the team. I said my aim was to make them proud of their team, and in just two games they have been amazing. The support at Wolves was really good and I heard that there will be 4,000 at the game on Saturday.
If we want to do something we need to go together. As a crowd, as a team, as a club.”
Featured image courtesy of Impact Sport