Tactically speaking - Nottingham Forest

Tactically speaking

Nottingham Forest have made a strong start to the Sky Bet Championship season based on a consistent team selection under manager Billy Davies.

The Official Website takes a detailed look at how the Tricky Trees could line up when they host West Ham United in the FA Cup with Budweiser third round on Sunday afternoon.

Possible starting XI


Jara  Lascelles  Hobbs  Lichaj

Mackie  Halford  Lansbury  Chalobah  Reid


Nottingham Forest have one of the strongest squads in the Sky Bet Championship, meaning Billy Davies may make changes to his starting XI following their 1-1 home New Year's Day draw with Reading.

That result left the Tricky Trees fifth in the table, right in the hunt for a Play-Off place and seven points behind Burnley in the second automatic promotion position.

Whoever gets the nod from Davies, Forest will likely line-up in a 4-5-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation. Either system makes Forest fairly difficult to break down, with the Reds losing just four of their 24 Championship fixtures so far and conceding an average of just a goal a game.

The goalkeeping position has been settled all season, with goalkeeper Karl Darlow starting all 24 Championship fixtures so far, keeping nine clean sheets along the way. The 6'1" stopper has superb reflexes, making him an outstanding shot-stopper.

In front of him, the centre-back positions could be filled by Jack Hobbs and Jamaal Lascelles. A strong defender and dominant header of the ball, Hobbs has also been ever-present in the league, making an amazing 303 clearances and 48 interceptions.

Lascalles, who has come into the side in recent weeks ahead of former Hammers loanee Danny Collins, is a tall player who is never afraid to put in a challenge or on the ground. The same can be said for Collins, if he recovers from an ankle injury in time to play. A fourth centre-back, Kelvin Wilson, is set to miss out with a back injury.

The full-back positions could be filled by Gonzalo Jara and Eric Lichaj, who joined Forest from West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa respectively.

Right-back Jara is a Chile international who loves nothing more than getting forward and joining in the attack, whether that be by passing or running at his man. Defensively, he is not quite so certain.

Lichaj is a United States international left-back who has been in impressive form in recent weeks. Perhaps more defensively-minded than Jara, he is an alert defender who uses his positional sense to snuff out opposition forays. He also possesses a dangerous long throw.

While former West Ham United youngster Chris Cohen is out with a knee injury another left-back, Dan Harding, could return to the starting XI after losing his place to Lichaj recently.

In midfield, Davies has a host of experienced and talented players at his disposal.

On New Year's Day, Forest lined up with Nathaniel Chalobah and one-time Hammer Henri Lansbury in defensive roles, with the versatile Greg Halford, the nippy Jamie Mackie and Andy Reid supporting the lone striker.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a team that plays with just one forward, Forest's major goal threat comes from their midfield. Reid is top scorer with seven and has unleashed 41 shots on goal, while Lansbury has let fly with a team-high 42 goal attempts, scoring five times.

Chelsea loanee Chalobah has been a regular starter since being sent-off on his debut at Brighton in October. A tall, strong all-round midfield player, the 19-year-old continues to fulfil his potential in Forest colours.

Alongside him, Lansbury is an energetic presence who is never afraid to put his foot into a tackle, while Halford is able to both win the ball back and create off his right foot.

Davies may opt to make changes for the FA Cup, however, with the experienced Jonathan Greening, Polish playmaker Radslaw Majewski, Sunderland loanee David Vaughan and teenager Ben Osborn among the candidates to be drafted in. Talented all-round central midfielder Vaughan has been particularly impressive since arriving at the City Ground in November, but injuries have restricted him to just four appearances so far.

Out wide, Mackie is a hard-working wide player who is never afraid to run at his man and get to the byline, while Reid is more likely to put his foot on the ball and create a chance with an accurate cross or through ball. The Irishman has also collected eight assists in the league this term - the second-highest total in the Championship.

Should either be rested, Algerian Djamel Abdoun is another talented passer of the ball.

Up front, Jamie Paterson started against Reading on New Year's Day, but he has made 16 goalless appearances in all competitions this season. For that reason, Irishman Simon Cox could be preferred. Cox is a hard-working, physical forward who has scored five league goals this season.

Other options include the poacher Matt Derbyshire and battering ram Darius Henderson, who has also netted five league goals this term but has not played since 21 December, when he was sent-off at Birmingham City.