Five stars of Nottingham Forest’s promotion-winning squad who could light up the Premier League

Five stars of Nottingham Forest’s promotion-winning squad who could light up the Premier League

After 23 years exiled from the top flight, Premier League football will return to The City Ground for 2022/23.

Two-time European champions Nottingham Forest booked their return to the big time after they edged past Huddersfield Town with a 1-0 win at Wembley Stadium to earn promotion from the Championship.

After they saw off the Terriers in the playoff final courtesy of an unfortunate Levi Colwill own goal, The Sporting News has picked out five current Forest stars who could catch the eye in the Premier League for Steve Cooper’s side next season.

MORE: Huddersfield Town vs. Nottingham Forest result: Steve Cooper’s side seal Premier League return

Brennan Johnson

Age: 21
Position: Winger

The first player to score for Forest in both legs of a playoff semifinal since his dad David, 21-year-old Brennan Johnson has proved key to Forest’s success going forward, despite this being just his first full season at Championship level.

Having spent the 2020/21 season on loan at League One side Lincoln City, there was no certainty that Johnson was ready to step up and perform for Cooper’s side, but the youngster has proved his worth, with an impressive return of 18 goals and 10 assists from 49 Championship appearances.

Brennan Johnson of Nottingham Forest

The division’s joint-fourth top scorer, contributing a goal on average every 234 minutes, it’s no wonder Johnson is reportedly being eyed by the likes of Everton and Tottenham Hotspur, as he looks like he’s ready to cut it with the best having helped Forest back to the promised land for the first time since 1999.

READ  IIHF U18 Men's World Championship 2021: Time, TV channel, live stream, where, when, schedule

His present Forest deal is up in 2023, so they’ll be hopeful they can deter interest in the winger to keep hold of him next term.

Brice Samba

Age: 28
Position: Goalkeeper

Since Cooper came in, Forest have conceded just 31 goals, fewer than any other Championship side, and it’s fair to say Samba has been vital between the sticks for the Reds, who had sky-rocketed to a fourth-placed finish come matchday 46.

The Congolese keeper managed 14 clean sheets from 40 matches, inclusive of a shutout on the hallowed turf of Wembley.

Samba made his move to Nottingham in 2019 following Caen’s relegation to Ligue 2, and since then he’s cemented his place on the team sheet ahead of second-choice keeper Ethan Horvath. Three penalty saves at the end of their playoff semifinal meeting with Sheffield United meant he was already a Forest hero, but again in the final, he stood up to the task and stayed solid prior to being withdrawn for the final few minutes through injury.

He’ll be tested by some of the world’s best players in his maiden Premier League season, but the 28-year-old has earned the chance to be Forest’s number one for another year.

READ  Chelsea injury news: Reece James and Mason Mount latest updates ahead of Champions League and Carabao Cup

Ryan Yates

Age: 24
Position: Central midfielder

A graduate of Forest’s Academy, Nottingham-born Yates has become the beating heart of the Reds’ midfield during their promotion campaign, contributing eight goals in his third full season in the first team following loan spells in League One and League Two.

The fan favourite and local lad got the final Forest touch to force Colwill to convert into the Terriers net, and he’s been key to all they’ve achieved in an unforgettable few months.

Nottingham Forest's Ryan Yates

He’ll be hoping to once again be the general in the middle that Forest will need to drive them forward, as they look to enjoy a successful first season back in the top flight, just as Brentford and Leeds United have done in recent years.

Joe Worrall

Age: 25
Position: Centre-back

Still relatively young, no-nonsense defender Worrall, who has been with Forest for 11 years, has already racked up 180 career appearances. Now, he’ll finally get his chance to captain his boyhood club when they pit themselves against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea next season.

In an emotional post-match interview at Wembley, he described Forest to be like “a whipped dog” β€” mistreated into aggression, which helped them get over the line after such a long stint in the second tier.

Worrall himself certainly doesn’t lack grit or determination, establishing himself as one of the top options at the back for Forest across five of the past six years, excluding a year-long loan spell with Rangers in 2018/19.

READ  Gervonta Davis vs. Mario Barrios fight date, time, PPV price, odds & location for 2021 boxing match

The towering defender and former England Under-21 international will face an entirely different test next season, but as their skipper he’ll want to lead by example as Forest look to make sure their Premier League return isn’t short-lived in 2022/23.

He deservedly won a place in this year’s EFL Championship Team of the Season, too, alongside teammates Yates and the next man in our list.

Djed Spence

Age: 21
Position: Right-back

When Djed Spence was struggling for game time under Neil Warnock at Middlesbrough, he probably didn’t think he’d be celebrating promotion as a loanee under Cooper come the end of the season.

The explosive young full-back has been integral to a resurgent Forest side who were bottom of the league when Cooper took the reins in mid-September of last year.

Nottingham Forest's Djed Spence

Not only can Spence get forward at pace, much like a Trent Alexander-Arnold or a Reece James, but he has played his part in Forest’s improved defensive solidity over the past eight months.

Forest are reportedly confident of securing his services permanently after Boro boss Chris Wilder confirmed he wouldn’t return to the Riverside. However, both Manchester United and Tottenham are circling for his signature, according to The Mirror.