That’s according to a recent report by the Yorkshire Evening Post, who state that Steve Cooper will be without Moussa Niakhate, Orel Mangala and Omar Richards for the Red’s trip to Elland Road early next week, with all three players remaining sidelined as a result of long-term injuries.
Centre-back Niakhate picked up a hamstring injury in Forest’s 1-0 win over West Ham United last month – ruling him out for around two months – while central midfielder Mangala also sustained a hamstring injury in a 1-1 draw with Everton back in August – with this knock looking likely to keep the Belgium international out for weeks rather than months.
Meanwhile, Omar Richards is yet to make a competitive appearance for Forest following his £10m move from Bayern Munich as a result of a leg injury.
While it is true that none of Niakhate, Mangala or Richards ever looked overly likely to make a return to action against Leeds on Monday, the fact that all three players will not be available for selection at Elland Road is nevertheless good news for Jesse Marsch and his side.
Indeed, Niakhate highly impressed over his 30 Bundesliga appearances for Mainz last season, helping his side keep eight clean sheets and scoring four goals, as well as making an average of 1.7 interceptions, 1.3 tackles, 2.2 clearances and winning 4.3 duels per game – proving his threat in both a defensive an offensive capacity.
Meanwhile, Mangala also caught the eye over his own 28 Bundesliga appearances for VfB Stuttgart in 2021/22, scoring one goal, registering three assists and creating four big chances for his teammates, in addition to making an average of one key pass and completing 1.5 dribbles per fixture – demonstrating his ability to push his side forward from the middle of the park.
Finally, despite Richards only starting five Bundesliga fixtures over the course of Bayern’s title-winning campaign last time out, the 24-year-old is undoubtedly an exceptionally talented full-back, with Harry Hudson going as far as to suggest that the defender has the potential to push for a place in England’s World Cup squad this winter, stating:
“There’s no reason to think why [he couldn’t get in the England team]. If he was a right-back he’d probably have more problems with Reece James, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kyle Walker. I’m not saying there are less talented left-backs but maybe there is more of an opportunity there because Ben Chilwell and Luke Shaw have been injured.”
As such, it is clear for all to see that Forest will be a much weaker side without the stricken trio on Monday evening, with their respective absences sure to come as a huge boost to Leeds’ chances of taking all three points from the clash.