Nottingham Forest made 22 signings over the summer, essentially building a whole new squad at the City Ground. However, despite the ambitious efforts at the club, the spending spree so far hasn’t worked out the way it was intended.
The Garibaldi are currently one point off the bottom of the table, and as the Premier League fixtures pass by, they look increasingly like team who could be in serious doubt to retain their top-flight status at the end of the season.
As a result, it is Steve Cooper’s job to find the solutions and fix the problems in the team in the Tricky Trees’ remaining matches. Whilst the January transfer window may play a part, there is another way that the manager can inject some talent into the team.
Forest have several young players who have either been sent out on loan or are playing in the youth teams at the club, and nurturing the hidden gems who are already on the books could be the key to stabilising their form in the challenging months ahead.
One player who has been shining whilst out on loan with Mansfield Town is Riley Harbottle, a defender who is not only showing glimpses of his solid attributes but also his creative and attacking flair.
Across 12 League Two appearances, the 22-year-old has scored three goals and made 1.7 interceptions, 1.8 tackles and 3.7 clearances per game, along with winning the majority of his duels (52%) and completing 75% of his dribble attempts.
The talented centre-back earned high praise upon his arrival at Mansfield this summer for his loan spell, with journalist Josh Bunting giving a glowing analysis of the ex-Nottingham Forest under-23s captain.
He tweeted: “Riley Harbottle is a very highly rated young defender , needs to go out and play senior football and naturally Mansfield makes sense for location. Captained Forest’s 23’s last season so he has that leadership quality about him. Adds competition in the defensive ranks.”
With that being said, Harbottle could become the perfect heir to current Forest centre-back Steve Cook, who is now 31 years old. If the young defender continues to flourish on loan, there could be an opportunity for him to make an appearance in the Premier League sooner rather than later.