Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka and midfielder Jack Colback both spoke about the experience that the club’s younger first team stars – who had this week been with England’s youth set-ups – would earn whilst on international duty.
Academy products Joe Worrall, Ben Brereton, and Everton loanee Kieran Dowell featured for England this week. Speaking ahead of Forest’s Friday trip to Millwall, Colback, who received a call-up England Under-20s in 2009, spoke about the experience the trio would have gained whilst away from the club:
“I think it’s just experience really. Obviously, it’s an honour for people to be called up for their country at whatever level, but I think it’s just that experience of being away in a group for a few days with the same group of lads and playing tournaments. It’s all experience for when you move up to the next level.”
Dowell played 84 minutes for England U21s as they beat Romania 2-1, with Worrall watching on from the bench. Worrall played the full 90 minutes when the Three Lions beat Ukraine by the same scoreline three days later, however, with Dowell not involved in Keith Downing’s squad.
Karanka also mentioned the ‘experience’ factor. The Reds boss has been reiterating how his goal is to allow fans to be proud of their team once again since his arrival at the City Ground, and spoke of how Worrall’s time with England would be important for the centre-back:
“I think to have players from the academy playing for the national team it is important. It shows Joe how good he is, even when he is not playing with his team. When he is not playing here and he is going to the national team, it says that he is a very good player and he has a very good future.
“Here, he is not playing now, but for sure he is learning a lot with Tobias and with Fox. It is another experience for him.”
“they are the ones changing their shape because we are a good team now”
The Spaniard also explained some of the tactical decision making, both in terms of himself and the opposition manager’s thought process, after deploying strikers Daryl Murphy and Brereton in Forest’s recent stalemate away to Sheffield United:
“I put both of them on the pitch because I have a lot of shapes in my head. I need to try to be right every single game, so for the game with Sheffield United, especially with them playing three at the back, I thought that Ben and Murphy up front could be good.
“In the end, they changed their shape and the first eleven because they were expecting Tommo to play. When they saw that Tommo wasn’t playing, they changed again with three defenders.
“I don’t care about our shapes, the main thing for me now is that we are facing teams and they are respecting us and they are the ones changing their shape because we are a good team now.”
"Here, he is not playing now, but for sure he is learning a lot with Tobias and with Fox. It is another experience for him."
— Impact Sport (@ImpactSport) March 28, 2018
Whilst Colback mentioned how ‘thankful’ he was for the opportunity to feature so regularly since signing in January. Cast aside at his parent club Newcastle, the 28-year-old has played the full 90 minutes in all but one game since pulling on the Garibaldi.
JC: “It was important that I came and played games. The slight worry is that you go somewhere and you don’t play games. That would have been disappointing. I’m thankful for the opportunity. I’ve managed to play games and I feel I’m getting stronger with each game as well.”
Colback makes his first trip to The Den with his new club on a seven game unbeaten run. Millwall, however, haven’t tasted defeat in twelve league games, with Neil Harris’ side steadily working their way to within four points of the playoffs. Forest fans will remember the Lions’ opening day visit to The City Ground this season, when Forest somehow came away from a complete battering with a 1-0 win.
In addition to a new having a new manager in the dugout, only three of Forest’s players that started on the opening day also started last time out at Bramall Lane, with goal scorer Barrie McKay undergoing a noticeable disappearance from the starting line-ups since a superb first few games for Forest. With that in mind, Friday will be a wholly new test for the Reds as they look to build for the next campaign.
Images: Impact Sport