The Championship play-off race moves up several gears as a buoyant Albion (7th) travel to red-hot, top-six hopefuls Forest (5th), who are searching for their seventh consecutive win.
Gus Poyet’s search for loan cover in attack proved fruitless as the Seagulls are set to continue with Leo Ulloa as their only fit, senior striker. The Argentine is very much in-form, however, with his most recent goals coming in the form of a brace against rivals Crystal Palace that helped re-ignite the Albion’s play-off surge.
Having underperformed for large parts of the campaign under Sean O’Driscoll, Nottingham Forest now have their sights firmly set on promotion following a remarkable run of form since the return of ex-boss Billy Davies. Indeed, they’ve managed 6 wins in a row since his appointment, and look like they’ll take some stopping.
First team coach Charlie Oatway has called for his side to be the one to end Forest’s dazzling form, but acknowledges the size of the task at hand.
He told seagulls.co.uk, “I’ve played there a couple of times and it’s a magnificent place to play. The club’s got a fantastic history and they are trying to achieve what everyone else is trying to achieve.
“They have a fantastic squad and a manager [Billy Davies] who knows the club inside out. He’s done a very good job since he’s been there and it would be brilliant for us if we can burst their bubble, but that’s easier said than done.
“He’s done well since he’s come in but their position doesn’t surprise me – I was more surprised at where they were in the first place, because Forest were one of my tips to be around the promotion places.
“It’s going to be a sell-out crowd and they will get behind Forest, but again it’s down to us. It should be a tough game for them as much as it is for us.”
Nottingham Forest Team News:
Billy Davies is sweating over the fitness of Henri Lansbury, after the midfielder picked up a heavy knock on international duty – he is rated 50/50 going into this one.
He remains their only fresh concern, as winger Stephen McLaughlin continues his long-term recovery, whilst defenders Daniel Ayala and Dan Harding are pushing for involvement.
Player to watch: Henri Lansbury
Following a relatively slow start to his Forest career, the ex-Arsenal midfielder has stepped up to the plate in recent weeks, with 4 goals in his last 6 league outings. A mainstay in the England under-21 squad, Lansbury has great attacking qualities and an undoubted eye for goal. All this providing he features of course..
Brighton & Hove Albion Team News:
Leo Ulloa will occupy the lone striker role once again, as Albion were seemingly unable to find cover in the loan window. George Barker remains a wild-card option from the development squad.
Tomasz Kuszczak should recover in time, having picked up a shoulder injury against Palace, though Adam El-Abd serves the second of his 2-match suspension following 10 yellows.
Player to watch: Liam Bridcutt
After a memorable few days, which included making his international debut for Scotland, and being named in the Championship’s top 10 players, attentions now turn to this play-off showdown for Bridcutt. And he’ll need to be at his destroying best to blunt the attacking threat of Lansbury, Reid and Majewski in between the lines.
Past Meetings & Stats
Albion have managed 2 draws and a win against the East Midlands side since their return to the Championship. Although the scorelines have remained close, there has been a sense of injustice involved on both sides in each of these meetings.
Last season Will Buckley scored Albion’s only clear cut chance of the game to provide a sucker-punch and clinch a late 1-0 victory at the Amex, whilst Joel Lynch salvaged a draw in the reverse fixture – which was the least they deserved – cancelling out Sam Vokes’ opener.
Earlier in the current campaign, a dominant first half display from the Seagulls was not enough to yield 3 points as O’Driscoll’s Reds frustrated the hosts to a 0-0 draw.
James Linington is in charge for this one.