Forest vs. Southampton preview..

I’ve got a mate who supports Southampton, our next opponents, and current leaders in the Championship.  “We’re there for the taking at your place” it said.  I wondered whether I missed a previous text and this was the punchline to a bizarre joke, but apparently that’s what he thinks – hard though it is for me to imagine why!  Of course, missing their top scorer Rickie Lambert through suspension is a good omen for us – but well, it’s not like he’s their only decent player, is it?

Having followed up our happy reunion with goalscoring at Ipswich with a goalless draw against Leicester in the cup, the Reds are – well – still not all that convincing a proposition at the moment.  Unless we happen to be playing a team in blue, from Suffolk, who are managed by Paul Jewell it seems.  We don’t have that kind of luxury on Saturday – and despite losing their last two league games to Bristol City (who’ve done the double over ’em now!) and down at Brighton, I’m not as convinced that is enough to write them off as my mate seems to be.

On the player front we’ll be hoping that Greg Cunningham has recovered from a hamstring niggle that kept him out of the FA Cup game last weekend, although youngster Kieron Freeman acquitted himself well in that game, his inexperience and perhaps fatigue was starting to show towards the end.  Findley is still doubtful with his dodgy shoulder, whilst Miller’s mystery injury remains – and Cohen, Wes and Moloney are on the longer term crocked list.

As noted above, the significant team news for Southampton is the loss of Rickie Lambert, both their and the league’s top scorer – he hit a hattrick against us at St Mary’s.  I’ll be glad to not see him lining up against us!  Saints gaffer Adkins also has injury doubts over Jaidi, Seaborne and Chaplow.  New signing Tadanari Lee is unlikely to be available for selection due to complications of work permit acquisition.

Fans who went to the Q&A session with Steve Cotterill and Mark Arthur commented on the manager’s apparent high regard for Marcus Tudgay, and for the recently prevalent 4-2-3-1 formation – which would suggest that Harewood might have to content himself with a place on the bench.  We of course also have a couple of ex-Saints strikers waiting in the wings in the form of Dexter Blackstock and David McGoldrick (not to mention their former ‘keeper on the bench, too).

Those of us who ventured south for the reverse fixture earlier in the season under the reign of Schteve McClaren will recall a game that featured something that has been somewhat of a recurring theme in Forest games even in to Cotterill’s tenure.  Referees seem to have formed a pact to not give us penalties – there were several solid claims in that match, including one immediately before the home side grabbed the decisive goal.

Anyway, I digress.  I’m really hoping the home crowd can be rewarded for their patience with a goal or two – even if we have to endure the godawful goal music (I can’t even remember how it goes, anyway).  However, that’s a tough ask – and it’s difficult to imagine a side of Southampton’s undoubted quality to not pose us problems at the other end either.  Until I see a run of more convincing performances and results I’m afraid most of my concluding paragraphs will sound a bit like this…