Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warburton pleased with ‘fantastic’ response of players to being dropped


Nottingham Forest boss Mark Warburton says the response from his players whenever they are dropped from the team shows the strength of characters he has in his squad.

Defender Eric Lichaj has started the last two games for the Reds, having barely featured early on in the season – and he put in a standout performance against Burton Albion last Saturday.

In the opposite position was Zach Clough, who was not even on the bench against the Brewers as Warburton opted instead for Kieran Dowell.

“I always try to be honest with the players and try to talk to the players, and Tendayi Darikwa didn’t deserve to be rested against Derby,” said Warburton. “But as a coaching staff, we felt that it was the right game for Eric. We think that was the right decision.

“But you look at the reaction from someone like Tendayi and it was outstanding.

“Zach Clough wasn’t in the squad for the Burton game because we felt he was too similar to Kieran Dowell. I just told him that half an hour ago. He should be really angry and frustrated at not being in the squad. But his reaction was to wish his team-mates all the best, get around the guys and be there before and after the game.

“It speaks volumes for the character of Zach, and Jamie Ward (an unused substitute last weekend) and Tendayi.

Tendayi Darikwa skips over a sliding challenge

“When someone like Eric responds in that manner, that’s Eric saying, ‘I’m relieved I’m back, I’ve been patient but I’m desperate to play’. That’s fantastic.

“But you also look at the reaction of the players who are not involved in a particular game – that speaks so much.”

Ward, like midfielders David Vaughan and Matty Cash, has only recently returned from injury.

And while he welcomes the extra options, Warburton acknowledges the added numbers mean more players will end up being disappointed at not getting a game.

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“People say to you, ‘oh, it’s great the injured players have come back,” he said. “Wardy’s back, Cashy’s back, David Vaughan’s back’. You go, ‘fantastic, we have more options’. But it also means three more bodies will be disappointed.

“If I don’t involve them, people say, ‘why are they not involved?’. And if you do involve them, they say, ‘what about someone else’. You can’t win.

“We have competition for places now. We have really talented players not in the squad.

“There will be good guys not on the coach when we travel this weekend. It tells you about the quality of the competition – and we have to have that at a club like Forest. Long may it continue.”

Clough and Cash played a full 90 minutes for Forest Under-23s on Monday, part of a strong line-up which drew 1-1 with Crewe Alexandra.

Asked if some of the players who featured had put themselves into contention to face Hull City on Saturday, Warburton said: “Zach, Tyler (Walker), Matt (Mills) and Muzzy (Mustapha Carayol) etc. I can reel them off. We had a number play against Leicester City the week before, too.

“What we have to do is make sure the players are prepared, so when they are called upon, when the opportunity comes along, they are in a position to maximise it.

“The worst thing in the world is, you haven’t played for six or seven weeks, you get your chance and you’re not match sharp.

“Our job is to try to give them the opportunity to play as often as possible in the right environment at the right level of challenge.”



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