The Forest boss took to his pre-match press conference to reveal a promising update on Omar Richard’s recovery from a hairline leg fracture that has left the newly-signed player unavailable for the entire season so far.
Cooper told the media:
“Omar has trained today for the first time, actually, so that’s something which is positive.
“Only part-training, so it’s still going to take a while, and he won’t feature this week – typically, the week he comes back is the week with a break after it! But it’s great for him.”
There is no doubt that Cooper will be thrilled that Richards is starting to make significant progress in recovery, as the young talent will certainly add depth to the left-back position that has been weakened by injuries throughout the season so far.
In fact, Richards could even feel like a brand new signing when the side returns to action after the World Cup due to the fact he has been unable to feature in any of the outings that Nottingham Forest have had so far.
Harry Toffolo has been ruled out until after Christmas and Renan Lodi also picked up an injury last month which left Cooper with no choice but to deploy Neco Williams on the left side of the backline in many fixtures.
The former Bayern Munich star joined Forest this summer in a deal worth £10m after showing glimpses of his capabilities and untapped potential in the Bundesliga last season.
Over 12 league appearances, the 24-year-old tallied up a 92% pass completion rate in his own half, whilst making 1.6 tackles and winning 4.5 duels per game, as well as completing 73% of his dribbles too, contributing to Bayern’s league title victory at the end of the season.
Richards has been the recipient of high praise over his career so far and Reading’s Head of Football Operations Mark Bowen even made a bold comparison to a Premier League legend:
“When I first came into the club, I said, ‘He reminds me so much of a young Ashley Cole’.
“Clearly, he’s got a long way to go to become the next Ashley Cole. But you could certainly see the potential, without a shadow of a doubt.”
With that being said, Cooper could have a game-changer and potential season-changing player on his hands when Richards returns to full fitness over the break which could be a huge boost for Nottingham Forest in the second half of their campaign.