Sabri Lamouchi’s Nottingham Forest are pushing for promotion into the Premier League this season. Currently fifth in the league with a game in hand, the Reds would feel that they have a real chance of going back into the top tier of English football.
That isn’t a given though. The season rolls into the business end after the international break and Forest would need immense depth when games come in quickly. It is perhaps by keeping this in mind that the club is trying to pursue a move for Coventry City defender Sam McCallum.
A report from the Coventry Telegraph has stated that the Reds are set to compete with fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds United for the 19-year-old defender. The report also claims that the club is keen on keeping the Englishman in January and he is considered one of the best talents in England outside the top two tiers.
That is big praise for a player who is playing his first full season at the club this term. But that high valuation is vital also because the Sky Blues are chasing promotion into the Championship themselves. McCallum is expected to play a key role in guiding them back into the second-division.
But Forest have to look at themselves currently. The youngster has played ten times in League One this season, showing his versatility of either playing at left-back or at right-back. He also played two games of the club’s League Cup run that ended away to Watford in the second round of the competition.
Last season, McCallum’s name did crop up in the first-team. But he made only three starts and all of them came from the left-back position. Being in or around any first-team at the age of 18 isn’t a small task for any emerging player.
The fact that a Premier League club like Aston Villa are also after McCallum is also a big sign that the defender could well be the real deal.
But since he is 19, whether he plays in the first-team or not should not be a question for Forest. Lamouchi has the left-back position taken up by 26-year-old Jack Robinson and 22-year-old Yuri Ribeiro. The former has played ten times, while the latter has played five times in the Championship.
They’re pushing each other and doing well in the competition. There is no need to disturb that balance till the season ends.
But the capture of a player like McCallum would present a major coup for Forest. It will be a sign of ambition that they can match a club like Leeds – who reached the play-offs last season, and a Premier League club like Villa.
Since he is 19 and still developing, McCallum would need first-team football. With Matty Cash impressing (highest Whoscored rating at the club – 7.27) and Carl Jenkinson the back-up, he will not play in that position too.
The most sensible option is to sign him and loan him back to Coventry in January so that they can possibly earn promotion by playing him. Once the season ends, Forest could assess his development and consider whether a loan move is needed or not.
With Cash being linked with a move to Everton, Crystal Palace and Southampton, McCallum could be the player who steps up and takes his place with passing time.