Premier League: Unicorn product Awoniyi to lead attack as Forest aim to disunite Newcastle

Taiwo Awoniyi’s name is one of that that stands out the most, and it is somewhat of a statement of intent from Nottingham Forest in their bid to avoid an immediate return to the Championship this season.

With Awoniyi’s arrival in mind, we take a look at how Forest could line up for the game against Newcastle United and how the NIGERIA international would fit in to their starting 11.

Steve Cooper is expected to stay loyal to his 3-4-1-2 formation that proved so successful at Forest last season, after the former Swansea City boss led the Reds from the bottom of the table to promotion via the playoff final back in May.

Many of the summer recruits can be seen as upgrades on existing members of the Forest squad, so many are expected to slot immediately into Cooper’s first-choice 11.

One of those is sure to be Dean Henderson, who like Awoniyi, has arrived this summer to boost the Reds.

The England international has joined on a season-long loan deal and will replace Brice Samba as the number one after the 28-year-old left to join Lens earlier in the window.

Jesse Lingard is another fascinating opinion who joined Forest on a free transfer.

Two mainstays of last season that should keep their place at the heart of Cooper’s defence are Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna, as unless anything drastic changes in the remaining weeks of the transfer window, Forest have no reason to replace them.

The defensive rocks are expected to be joined in the back three by Moussa Niakhate, who joined from Bundesliga outfit Mainz 05 for around £9m this summer.

Moving into the wide areas, the wing-back positions needed significant attention from the transfer department this summer, with Djed Spence having joined Tottenham Hotspur from Middlesbrough upon the end of his loan spell at the City Ground, and Jack Colback often being used out of his natural central midfield position to cover on the left-hand side.

Forest’s solutions – Neco Williams, signed from Liverpool, and Omar Richards, brought in on a permanent deal from Bayern Munich – should plug those gaps nicely.

Richards could well have a fight on his hands for a regular starting spot however, with fellow summer-recruit Harry Toffolo proving to be an excellent option to have following an impressive season with Huddersfield Town in that role last season.

The centre of the pitch has also been highlighted as a problem area by Cooper ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, with James Garner’s loan spell coming to an end and there being a lack of a ball-winner in the engine room.

Central midfielder Orel Mangala joined for a fee around £12.75m from Stuttgart.

The two-time Belgium international penned a long-term contract at the City Ground. He Mangala joined Lewis O’Brien, Jesse Lingard and Brandon Aguilera as new midfield additions

In the number 10 role is where Lingard is expected to slot in this season – a role that he performed in so well for both England and West Ham United during a six-month loan spell last year.

The 29-year-old managed to net nine goals in just 16 appearances for the Hammers during that spell, and Cooper will be hoping that he can provide the goals and creativity required to link midfield and attack in their bid for survival this season.

On the occasions that Lingard will be required to provide, Taiwo Awoniyi and local lad Brennan Johnson will be his targets.

Nottingham Forest possible starting lineup:
Henderson; Worrall, Cook, McKenna; N.Williams, Mangala, Colberk, Toffolo; Lingard; Johnson, Awoniyi

The latter enjoyed a positional switch from out wide to a more central role under Cooper in the Championship – a move that saw him score 16 goals and register 10 assists on his way to earning the Championship young player of the year award for 2021-22.

Meanwhile, Awoniyi has joined for a club-record fee from Union Berlin, having helped the Bundesliga outfit to successive European qualifications during his two-year stay in Germany’s capital, and so he should be an immediate starter in the opening weeks of the new campaign.

It is a front three that Lingard can contribute so much to, with all three possessing great pace and flair on and off the ball, and so it should be an area that provides Forest fans with plenty of excitement ahead of their return to the top flight.

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