On balance, Nottingham Forest’s January transfer can be considered a success. Not only did the club keep hold of their prized assets, they also added genuine quality to the squad in the shape of Zach Clough and Ross McCormack.
If only they had sweetened an otherwise impressive month with the addition of Matty James. The Daily Mail reported that Forest wanted to sign the Leicester City midfielder on loan, only for the Premier League player to choose a temporary switch to Barnsley instead.
You can see why the midfielder, who cruelly missed the whole of the Foxes' historic 2016/17 season with a cruciate ligament injury, would make such a decision. Barnsley were flying high while Forest were in turmoil and in very real danger of relegation.
Two months later, the Tykes are still enjoying an excellent season although the play-offs are out of reach after a recent slump. Forest, however, remain just two points above the bottom three and wishing that James had chosen the City Ground over Oakwell in January.
Because while Gary Brazil’s side are badly missing former captain Henri Lansbury (below), James has done everything in his power to ensure Conor Hourihane’s mid-season move to Aston Villa has not destroyed Barnsley’s season.
He has been in excellent form throughout the majority of his ten appearances for the Yorkshire club with his tidy passing and combative, off the ball work rate endearing him to supporters.
James is, in short, the presence Forest are badly missing in their midfield. And if they do succumb to the bitter bite of relegation, you wonder how big a factor their failure to sign the former Manchester United youngster will be.
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