Friday, 27 January 2012

Nottingham Forest Academy Profiles

The Nottingham Forest Youth Team has been getting a lot of attention recently, and rightly so. Their surge through the FA Youth Cup has distracted Forest fans from the First Team's bleak season and given us not only something to cheer about now, but something to look forward to in the future.

The young reds thrashed Wigan Athletic by 9-1 at The City Ground and then travelled to St Mary's, where they hit 5 against Southampton.

The names of our talented youth team are quickly becoming well known amongst fans, but just who are the possible Forest stars of the future?

Grant Nelson, who follows the Academy closely, gives us a brilliant insight into Eion Jess' boys with these player profiles. Its long, but stick around, he knows his stuff!


DIMITAR EVTIMOV

Position:  Goalkeeper

Born:  SEP ‘93 (2nd year)

International Honours: Bulgaria u17s & u19s

Dimitar arrived at Forest  last summer from Hristo Stoichkov’s Football Academy in Bulgaria. He had a trial at Manchester United a few years ago.  He uses his commanding presence to his advantage as a goalkeeper. Very good shot stopper and the all round facets of his game are growing greatly and his loan experiences at Ilkeston Town and Gainsborough Trinity earlier in the season has contributed to that.



LAWRENCE GORMAN

Position:  Centre-back/right-back

Born: JAN ’95 (1st year)

International honours: England u16s & u17s

Lawrence is from Nottingham and has been at the club from a young age. He is a centre-back but has played at right-back on occasions this season as he did in the last round of the FA youth Cup against Wigan. His greatest strength is his heading ability and reading of the game as a centre-back. His distribution on occasions could be improved but it isn’t a major concern. Similarities to Michael Dawson have been drawn. He was victorious in the Victory Shield and Montague tournament in France last year with England u16’s. Was also a member of the side that reached the semi-finals of the world renowned Manchester United Nike Cup where we lost to Newcastle who went on to win the tournament in 2009.



JAMAAL LASCELLES

Position: Centre-back

Born:  NOV ’93 (2nd year)

International honours: England u18s & u19s

Jamaal has been at the club since the age of 8 and is from Derby and has been highly rated as a natural footballing talent for quite some time. He has all the tools to be a great centre-back which are physical strength, heading ability, decent pace, comfortability on the ball and a good passing range. He got his debut as an u16 at the back end of our successful league season two years ago when our u18s got to the FA Academy Premier League final. He then went on to start the pre-season friendly in the up-coming summer against Mansfield. Later in the season he eventually started training with the first team after his superb performances for the u18’s, reserves and England u19’s.



KIERAN FENTON

Position: Centre-back

Born: NOV ’94 (1st year)

International honours: None

Kieran is a left-sided centre-back from Derbyshire. He has made good strides this season to become a reserve regular. Brilliant at striding out of defence with a lot of comfortability on the ball and also has a great sliding challenge where he often wins the ball so cleanly. Kieran is tall but on occasions can struggle with the physical demands of the game and that is why they have pushed him to play regularly for the reserves this season I feel.



JACK ANDREWS

Position: Left-back/centre-back

Born: OCT ’93 (2ND year)

International honours: None

Born in Mansfield but from Selston and been at Forest since the age of 10. Jack has made the move from centre-back to left-back this season. He has impressed greatly this season  with his ability to get forward combined with his strong defensive displays. He unluckily got injured in a reserve game last season against Sheffield United which put him out for a large part of the season. But he has put that past him to arguably be one of our most consistent performers this season.



MICHAEL HOLLINGSWORTH

Position: Midfield/right-back

Born: SEP ’94 (1ST year)

International honours: None

Michael is from Boston, Lincolnshire and is an imposing figure in midfield. He arrived at Forest  at 9 years of age after being part of the Forest Development Centre in Grantham. He can be described as a team player as he always gives 100% in any position he plays. His best position is playing as a box-to-box central midfielder where he is in and amongst the action either making great tackles, mopping up in front of the defence or making a run from deep to get his name on the score sheet.  He has played at right-back this season and when u16 on occasions as well but played as a right-midfielder against Wigan the other night where he got on with his job and kept things simple with great one-touch passing.


DAVID MORGAN

Position: Centre-midfield

Born:  JULY ’94 (2nd year)

International honours:  Northern Ireland u15s, u16s, u17s & u19s

David was scouted in the Milk Cup and joined Forest from Ards Youth from the u15s age group. He is the driving force of our midfield and will play a big part for us if we go to the latter stages of the FA youth cup. He can be described as our deepest lying midfielder as I wouldn’t want to restrict him to the defensive midfielder tag as he often has played for his country pushed further forward.  He has rasping drive from distance that can be very dangerous and of course loves a tackle.


KIERAN WALLACE

Position: Midfield

Born:  JAN ’95 (1st year)

International honours: England u16s and u17s

Kieran has been at the club since the age of 8 after being part of Forest’s grassroots system and is originally from Bingham. He was a regular as an u16 last season with the u18’s and actually tied for top goalscorer along with Bamford in the academy league. On his u18 debut he scored a 13-minute hat trick off the bench against Leeds United.  Kieran has a great technique and a great left foot and often plays just off the striker but this season they have preferred for him to play slightly deeper in the centre of midfield. Kieran’s greatest qualities is his awareness and crisp passing. Has also has a great ability to sneak in around the back post for a goal which not many midfielders can claim to have. Played in the senior pre-season friendly against Northampton. Like Lawrence Gorman, he won the Victory Shield and Montague tournament in France last year with England u16s.


BEN OSBORN

Position: Left-midfield

Born: AUG ’94 (2nd year)

International honours: None

Ben is a very small left-sided player from Derby who has been with Forest since the age of 9. What he lacks in height he makes up for in effort. Last season he was a regular for the u18s at left-back but the decision was made to push him further forwards this season. Extremely comfortable on the ball and capable of putting in dangerous crosses it was good see him add some goals to his game the other night against Wigan.



JACK BLAKE

Position: Centre-midfield

Born: SEP ’94 (1ST year)

International honours: Scotland u19s

He joined us from Notts County at the age of 10.  JJ as he is nicknamed is originally from Bingham but got selected to represent Scotland due to a family connection. JJ is a great technician and loves to get on the ball as much as possible and pass it around that’s why it was a surprise that Forest had decided to play him just off the main striker this season. He broke on to the u18 scene at the back end of last season where in his full debut as an u16 he scored a brace against Liverpool in our 4-2 victory, the second goal of which was a superb curling free-kick into the top corner and he likes to consider himself a dead-ball specialist. He has broadened his footballing horizon from a young age where he has gone to numerous academies around Europe including Deportivo La Coruna and trained with them for a short period of time.



PATRICK BAMFORD

Position: Striker

Born: SEP ’93 (2nd year)

International honours: England u18s

Pat  was schooled at Nottingham High School for Boys and has been at Forest since the age of 8. He made his debut for the u18’s as an u16 and even made an appearance off the bench in the final of the FA Academy Premier League against Arsenal at the Emirates 2 to 3 years ago. He has a lot going for him as a striker. He has electric pace, he loves to dribble and beat players but is also a natural goal scorer. He can score from inside the box with easy tap-ins or brilliantly timed headers where he uses his 6ft plus height but he can also strike the ball from outside the box with his preferred left-foot or his right-foot. Most importantly he uses his brain when he is on the pitch and his ability to make the decision when and when not to involve his team mates around him has improved greatly from last season. Has gone on to represent Nottingham Forest seniors this season and he has deserved nothing less from his performances for both the u18’s and reserves.




JORDAN SMITH

Position: Goalkeeper

Born: DEC ’94 (1st year)

International honours: None

Jordan is a highly rated goalkeeper from South Normanton, Derbyshire. Not what one would consider the tallest of goalkeepers but as we have seen with Peter Shilton and Lee Camp that is not an issue if you can do the goalkeeping basics to a high standard. Jordan made his debut for Nottingham Forest u18s and reserves as an u16 player last season. Earlier in the season he had a loan spell with Blackburn Rovers to help aid his development while being 2nd or 3rd choice goalkeeper at the time.



ELLIOTT ACKROYD

Position: Left-back/ right-back

Born: SEP ’94 (1st year)

International honours: None

A superb footballing talent who has unfortunately had issues with injuries this season and last. It all started at the back end of last season in his 2nd game for the u18s as an u16 where he got a serious ankle injury and unfortunately he has had niggling little injuries everytime he starts to get a run of games this season.  I would describe Elliott as a natural with the ball at feet and loves to bomb forward from either full-back position but predominantly has from right-back this season due to us having no real right-back in the u18s and having other left-back options. Next season he should return to his more favoured left-back role when Jack Andrews moves up from the academy.



ARISTOTE AMISI KAMANENO

Position: Left-wing/ right-wing

Born: NOV ’94 (1st year)

International honours: Democratic Republic of Congo u20’

Acquired by NFFC from Linas Monthlery in France at the age of 14. He is a winger with electric pace which he likes to use to his advantage to get in behind defences.  He is left-footed but last year was used as a right-winger mainly for the u16s and often comes off the bench for the u18s on his right-hand side where he often can cut in from the flank with his left-foot.



WILFRIED GNAHORE

Position: Attacking midfielder

Born: DEC ’95 (schoolboy)

International honours: Ivory Coast u17s

Willy as he is called was scouted in Paris and joined the club at the age of 12. Another u16 player playing for the u18s. Preferred role is when he is playing centrally just off the main striker but can also play slightly deeper or on the right hand side of midfield. Willy is small in stature but he uses his low centre of gravity to his advantage where he dribbles and uses his bag of tricks to beat his man. A criticism that can be labeled of him is that he needs to get endurance into his game as not often will he finish a full 90 minutes as he always wants to be in the action. A great talent and a good weapon to have on the bench. He also appeared in the 2011 U17 World Cup for Ivory Coast. In 2010 he was named Player of the Tournament in an Under 15s competition where Forest came 3rd, beating Wolfsburg in the 3rd place play-off. Also a member of the team that reached the semi-finals of the Manchester United Nike Tournament.



DERRICK OTIM

Position: Striker/ right midfield

Born: MAR ’96 (schoolboy)

International honours: None

Another young player playing for the u18s as an u16 player. He is of Ugandan descent and was scouted playing for his local club in Gedling Town quite a few years ago now where he was breaking quite a few records. A quicky nippy attacking player who has quick feet and can also be described as being small in stature. He does need to work on the physical side of his game but the technique and talent is there like many young Forest players.



EURICO SEBASTIAO

Position: right-back/ right midfield

Born: OCT ’94 (1st year)

International honours: None

Joined Nottingham Forest at the age of 14 from Pro-Touch Soccer Academy in London. His greatest strengths is his energy and pace which he either uses at right-back or on the right hand side of midfield. So his versatility helps greatly during the season.



JOSH THOMAS

Position: Left midfield

Born: JAN ’95 (1st year)

International honours: None

Josh is from Leicester but been at Forest since the age of 8. Formed a lethal partnership down the years with Elliott Ackroyd on the left-hand side.  Josh has a brilliant technique and is a winger who doesn’t like to rely on pace. He has a brilliant left-foot which he use its to good effect in getting the ball into the danger area in the box. Josh has struggled with injuries this season unfortunately and recently made another comeback. Also a member of the side that reached the semi-finals in the Manchester United Nike Tournament.



JORDAN PALMER-SAMUELS

Position: Striker

Born: SEP ’94 (1st year)

International honours: None
Jordan joined Forest last summer after being released by Arsenal. Forest were aware of his abilities as he was at the Pro-Touch soccer academy with Eurico Sebastiao before Arsenal signed him. Has bags of pace and is a decent finisher but has been largely used as a sub this season. Has unfortunately suffered from illness over the last few months and has recently made his comeback.

ARSENE WENGER'S EYE FOR YOUNG STARS 
In 2009 Lascelles, Andrews, Osborn, Bamford, Ackroyd, Blake, Hollingsworth and Wallace all played in a 93-94 born tournament in Greece that involved all the top Greek teams and top sides that included Arsenal.  We beat Arsenal in the semis and went on to beat Olympiakos 2-1 in the final. Hollingsworth and Bamford on the score sheet. Strong belief is that this is where Arsene Wenger first came aware of our not only Lascelles’ talent but all our talent in this team.

I would like to send a huge thankyou to Grant for compiling these profiles. You can find him on Twitter (@GazNffc) and he frequently tweets about the youth team.

Remember everyone, Forest will face either West Ham United or Chelsea in the next round of the FA Youth Cup at The City Ground, so if you can, get yourself down there.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment and if you liked it, share it! As always, you can find me on Twitter too - @Bolton0301 and @NFFC_Stats

5 comments:

  1. Really interesting, thanks to both of you for making this available. I will be attending my first ever youth match when we play the next round of the Youth Cup, it's good to get the lowdown on players other than Bamford and Lascelles.

    Andy C

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  2. Good to see info on all the youth team. There is a lot of talent in this squad beyond Patrick and Jamaal for example Kieran Fenton has been at the club since he was 8 and has recovered well from a double leg break in Nov 2010. Is a good organiser and I saw him play for the reserves at Walsall where he played the offside like the Arsenal in the 80's

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  3. I watched Fenton play a few times and he has real potential. Less high profile than Lascelles, was really good at Southampton in the youth cup.

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  4. How come Blake has played at other clubs ? dont understand how he can if hes under contract. Why havent the other players had the same experiences ?

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  5. most of the above players have gone since nick marshall was ousted by mr davis and replaced by mr brazil these players had not progressed under mr brazil i wonder why will leave you to make your own judement about the reasons why

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