Nottingham Forest will be tough team to break down, says Russell Martin

10th December 2021
First team
Russell Martin and Luke Williams

Russell Martin expects Nottingham Forest to be a tough team to break down as Swansea City look to unlock one of the Championship’s most miserly defences.

Forest have been rejuvenated following the appointment of Steve Cooper, who was named head coach in September having previously led the Swans to the play-offs in consecutive seasons.

Cooper has tasted defeat just once in 13 games, while only Bournemouth have conceded less goals on their travels this season than Forest.

The Swans, however, have proved to be resilient on home soil, with just West Brom and Fulham having shipped fewer goals on their own ground.

And Martin, who was a team-mate of Forest’s top-scorer Lewis Grabban during his time at Norwich City, knows his team will need to make the most of their attacking qualities.

Lewis Grabban

“They’ve become very hard to beat and break down. They’ve kept a lot of clean sheets and they have good players at the top end of the pitch,” said the Swans boss.

“Lewis Grabban is someone I know well. I played with Lewis. Brennan Johnson was exceptional last year at Lincoln, so they pose a real threat, especially on the counter.

“We watch a lot of opposition matches and a lot of the time it changes for us. How they set up can be quite a large difference against us.

“But we’ll be prepared for whatever they do bring. We’ll work on us, not the opposition all week. We’ll wait and see.

“Of course, every game at this level is tough. Both teams are part of this pack in the middle that is very close – one defeat can send you a long way down and one win can shoot you right up the league.

“I think with that and the return of an ex-manager makes it interesting for a lot of people, but for us it's another game. It’s a home game. We’ll try to impose our game as much as we can.”

Steve Cooper

Forest’s visit sees both Cooper and his assistant Alan Tate return to SA1.

Cooper led the Swans to the play-off semi-finals in his first year, and then went a step further only to be beaten by Brentford for the second consecutive year.

And Martin was full of praise for the work his predecessor did at the club.

“The record speaks for itself. Two play-offs is a really good feat,” he added.

“Unfortunately they fell short at the final hurdle but it was two really strong seasons with a good group of players. Obviously many of those players have gone now. I don't think anyone can sit here and say he didn’t do a good job.

“Every manager has their own way of doing things but what he did here, I don’t think anyone can come in and criticise.

“What he did leave here was a group of players who are culturally really strong in terms of the way they work together, how willing to work they are.

“That certainly made it easier for us coming in.”

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