After weeks of speculation, it came as no surprise to Nottingham Forest supporters that their star striker Britt Assombalonga had completed his £15 million move to Championship rivals Middlesbrough. However, despite the disappointment of losing the 24-year-old striker, there are still plenty of reasons for Forest supporters to be positive heading into next season after just avoiding relegation in the last campaign. We take a look at how the Reds can fill the void left by Assombalonga’s departure.
Daryl Murphy’s arrival at The City Ground
Forest secured the services of the 34-year-old striker earlier this week as he joined for a fee of around £2 million from Newcastle United. He arrives at The City Ground with vast experience at this level and recent history of being able to find the back of the net.
Despite his quality, it would be wrong to compare him to the outgoing Assombalonga as they are very different players. Murphy’s game revolves around holding the ball up and bringing others into play. He has never relied on pace, but this does not mean he will not be just as effective as Assombalonga was.
His most successful season came in the 2014/15 campaign as he scored 27 goals for Ipswich Town to help them finish in the play-off places. He also made a vital contribution to Newcastle last season in their promotion campaign as he found the back of the net five times despite limited opportunities. A majority of these goals came at important times, and if it was not for Murphy, Newcastle might not have been promoted to the Premier League as comfortably as they were.
Can Jason Cummings make the step up?
Murphy is not the only forward to have been signed by Mark Warburton this summer. 21-year-old striker Cummings has also been signed from Scottish Premier League side Hibernian at a bargain price.
It is harder to predict what kind of impact Cummings will have at Forest due to the fact this is his first experience of English football. It may take him some time to adapt to the demands of The Championship like it does many other young players. However, his goal scoring record in the last few years has certainly been impressive, and if he can continue this form at Forest, the Reds could have a lethal striker at their disposal.
An 18-year-old wonderkid on their books
Forest may have a ready-made replacement for Assombalonga in the form of 18-year-old Ben Brereton. The emergence of the young striker last season was one of the main positives to take from what was a dismal campaign for the Reds. He scored three goals last season and signed a new four-year deal at the club earlier this summer despite Premier League interest.
It would be no surprise to see Brereton improve on last season’s tally this time around and really cement himself as one of the most promising young English talents outside of the top flight. However, it is unlikely he will be included in Warburton’s starting line-up week in week out as that would be a lot of pressure for a player of such a young age.
Could the forgotten men still have a part to play?
The departure of Assombalonga has given the likes of Apostolos Vellios, and Tyler Walker renewed hope that they could force themselves into Warburton’s plans for the upcoming season. Vellios, in particular, was unlucky not to get more opportunities last season, as he had a fairly decent goal scoring record when he featured for the Reds. In comparison, Walker has struggled with injuries while out on several different loan spells, but at just 20-years-old, he could yet develop into a good striker at this level.
Both Vellios and Walker have been given an opportunity to prove their worth to Warburton in pre-season, and both have done a good job so far. Vellios has scored three goals in two games for the Reds in pre-season against Notts County and Mansfield Town. Walker also got himself on the scoresheet against Mansfield earlier this afternoon. If they both continue this form throughout the rest of pre-season, Warburton may have no choice but to give them a chance to shine in The Championship when the season kicks off in less than two weeks time.
An abundance of midfield creativity
Despite the fact that Forest still have many talented strikers at the club, it should not be solely down to them to provide the goals next season. Forest have an abundance of quality in midfield with many players who should chip in with goals throughout the season and help take the pressure off the strikers.
Forest have added Barrie McKay to their ranks this summer from Rangers, and he has shown in the past that he has an eye for goal. Zach Clough scored several vital goals for the Reds last season following his arrival from Bolton Wanderers in January, and he will be looking to improve on his tally again this time round. The likes of Chris Cohen, Mustapha Carayol, Matty Cash, Ben Osborn and so on, will all also be looking to improve their records in front of goal.