Nottingham Forest's bad run reveals which player is key to success

Andy Reid appears to be the key man in any success Nottingham Forest will enjoy this season.

Reid is currently on the sidelines, having been out of action through injury since the 1-1 draw with local rivals Derby County on September 14.

Since then, the promotion chasing club have won just two games in the Championship - the 5-3 victory over then-struggling Fulham three days later, and the 2-1 win over Norwich last weekend, brought on by an amazing turnaround in the last five minutes of the game - leaving them sitting in mid table, seven points off top spot after 17 games.

Despite being 32-years-old, the Republic of Ireland international has proven his worth to Forest on numerous occasions since his return to the City Ground in 2011. Seemingly content to see out his career with the club where he started as a professional, Reid is arguably one of the most naturally talented footballers in the second tier, and it is only fitness issues that have prevented him excelling in the Premier League throughout his career.

However, it is his fitness issues that cost Forest, with the club willing to enjoy his talents without providing serious cover for the large portions of the season he is likely to miss.

He has played more key passes per game than any other member of the Reds first-team squad - 2.5 - and his passing accuracy of 82% is one of the highest in Forest’s ranks. Ironically, he has provided only one assist this season, but his loss has been felt remarkably strongly in the starting XI, despite leading goalscorer Britt Assombalonga, and leading assist maker Michail Antonio still featuring regularly since his injury.

It has been since Reid’s injury that Pearce has come under criticism for his willingness to revert to direct football, conceding the midfield to the opposition, and it has ultimately cost them, as shown by their run of nine games without victory. Despite claiming a positive result against Norwich, it was more down to good fortune than good football, and Reid needs to return to bring stability back to the centre of the field, allowing Forest to go back to controlling games in the way they were doing in the opening stages of the season.

The other surprising fact with the knowledge of Reid’s injury record is how little cover there is for the midfielder in the Forest ranks. At the age of 32, Reid is coming to the close of his career, and the club appear to be making no headway in finding a man who can both cover for Reid in the present day, whilst stepping into his void when he retires in the coming years. Admittedly, it is hard to replace such a talismanic figure at the City Ground, but the club have been willing to shell out large transfer fees on other areas of the playing squad, and it begs the question of why the central midfield area has not been strengthened heavily.

All in all, Reid surely has a few years left to excel with Forest, but, if he spends any large period of time on the sidelines, Forest’s season will ultimately be written off as failure, leaving them to hope for the Irish international’s talents the following year. But, with him getting older and more injury prone, there is only so much hoping that can be done before the club need to start looking for the club legend’s replacement.

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