Nottingham Forest’s Jordan Gabriel can help ease defensive injury troubles

This article is part of Football FanCast’s In The Pipeline series, which takes a look at some of the most promising young talent either linked with clubs or emerging from their academies…

Things have gone pretty well for Nottingham Forest so far this season.

On Friday evening, their win over Stoke City saw them take a temporary stand at the top of the Championship table having only lost one game this season, and that came on the opening weekend.

But some tough tests lay ahead due to the injuries picked up throughout September.

In that Stoke game, captain Michael Dawson was withdrawn early, meaning he is set to be out for the next couple of matches barring any major update on the medical front.

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While Carl Jenkinson’s absence has forced Matty Cash back into the right-back role to deputise just like he did before the arrival of the former Arsenal man.

To be fair to the 22-year-old, he’s done a fantastic job there as he has averaged a WhoScored rating of 7.36 in that position and has also picked up a goal and two assists.

But after all, his natural position is in attack. Consequently, he can be lacking defensively sometimes as his 1.1 tackles per game suggests – Jenkinson averaged 1.7 per match when he was fit.

Therefore, it would make sense to utilise the other defenders at Sabri Lamouchi’s disposal, and their academy has produced many a fine player over the years – none more so than the aforementioned skipper along with his defensive partner Joe Worrall.

Alex Mighten and Brennan Johnson have been given a taste of the first-team this season, though, both are attacking players and right now, the cause for concern is in defence.

So maybe it is time to give right-back Jordan Gabriel a go.

Former caretaker boss and academy manager Gary Brazil called the 21-year-old an ‘exceptional talent’ with the official Forest website also describing him as a ‘fast and tricky’ full-back.

He was first brought through the ranks around three years ago, but a serious injury hampered his chance of fully taking that opportunity.

Gabriel was introduced against Arsenal last week with 15 minutes left, and despite being four goals down, the 21-year-old displayed an impressive work ethic which left the team only conceding one more goal.

The youngster also recorded a 100% passing success rate and one tackle, per WhoScored.

Which Midlands club will finish highest?

West Brom

West Brom

Birmingham

Birmingham

Forest

Forest

Derby County

Derby County

Back in 2016, then U21 coach Jimmy Gilligan praised Gabriel, he said: “He has a great physique for a full back and is a very receptive learner. He has all the attributes to do well.”

Lamouchi has hinted that he may need to call upon the academy in light of this week due to the lack of options at his disposal.

With so many injuries to defenders, the electric right-back could well be one of those in line for an opportunity.

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