Between The Lines: Aitor Karanka ready to leave Jack Colback out vs Stoke City

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka says he already knows the central midfield pairing he will deploy when his side face Stoke City at the City Ground on Saturday, as quoted by The Nottingham Post.

The Reds currently lie sixth in the Championship standings going into the weekend’s fixtures, and they have also taken seven points from the previous nine available having beaten then league leaders Sheffield United 1-0 at home last Saturday.

With Jack Colback absent, Claudio Yacob got his first start and minutes on the pitch for the east Midlands outfit having signed on as a free agent back in September, and he impressed alongside Adlene Guedioura to give his Spanish boss a real selection dilemma against the Potters.

What did he say?

Speaking via The Nottingham Post, Karanka said:

“I know, already, who is going to play.

“After the game, if I play with Claudio and we win, nothing will be said. If we lose, people will say that I should have played Jack. If I pick Jack, and we lose, people will say I should not have played him – but I know this. It is an easy decision for me to make.

“He was working really hard and has been since he arrived here.

“When he got his chance he played really well.

“It was a difficult game, because Jack is an important player for us. But we did not miss Jack and we did not miss Foxy. That was the main thing. The players who played in their positions – Claudio and Michael (Dawson) were perfect.”

What do his comments really mean?

Well, despite Colback being a key player for Forest already this season, the quotes from the 45-year-old certainly hint that Yacob took his chance in the Newcastle loanee’s absence, and having shone against the league leaders he should keep his spot in the starting XI.

Karanka alludes to the Premier League experience the former West Bromwich Albion man has, and that of course could be vital against a side like Stoke who have lots of decent players in their ranks – no matter what their league position may be.

With Yacob and Guedioura seemingly likely to keep their spots with Colback as back-up, 33-year-old Ben Watson looks to be in real trouble having already been an unused substitute in five of the club’s previous seven Championship fixtures.

With game time severely limited, he could find himself surplus to requirements in the New Year if the fine form of Yacob, Colback and Guedioura continues.

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