Nottingham Forest haven’t had a fairytale start to their Premier League season and have spent the large majority of their time in the relegation zone. Thus, there is no doubt that Steve Cooper will be working hard over the World Cup break to find ways to improve the team.
The Tricky Trees return to action after Christmas with a difficult clash at Old Trafford against Manchester United and the manager will surely be hoping the good form that Forest found themselves in ahead of the prestigious international competition can quickly resume.
Over their last five fixtures in the top flight, the side picked up points from four of their most recent outings which has contributed to their climb up the table from rock bottom to just one point away from safety in 17th.
Forest have ten players on their books who are currently participating in the World Cup in Qatar with Neco Williams, Wayne Hennessy, Brennan Johnson, Remo Freuler, Cheikhou Kouyate, Ethan Horvath, Brandon Aguilera, Mohamed Dräger, Richie Laryea and Hwang Ui-Jo all hoping they can have an influence on the progress of their respective nations at the tournament.
One newly-signed Garibaldi Red who has found himself out of favour at Forest in the last few games is Wales international Williams and he will be hoping that his performances in Qatar will be enough to earn back his starting role at right-back.
Despite Wales’ struggle to dominate their opponents in the group stage so far, Williams has been one of their most hard-working players in the tournament and has shown his commitment in the team.
Over two appearances, the 21-year-old has won 55% of his duels and tallied up an 85% pass completion rate in his own half, showing composure beyond his age.
He has been superb in a defensive capacity, averaging 1.5 interceptions, 2.5 tackles and two clearances per game.
The £16m right-back hit the headlines when he made his World Cup debut just hours after finding out his grandfather passed away, which led to high praise from team-mate Harry Wilson for putting on a performance despite his grief:
“Neco showed great courage and bravery to play the game,” Wilson claimed.
“Everybody knows to lose a family member is never easy. For that to happen on the eve of his first ever World Cup game…and to put in a performance like that as well, I thought he was fantastic.”
With that being said, Cooper must unleash Williams when he returns to The City Ground after his international duty is over as he could be a game-changing asset to the team over the second half of the season.