Nottingham Forest’s transfer window begins to take shape

Early deals for Keinan Davis and Steve Cook in the January transfer window show Nottingham Forest are finally doing things differently — and hopefully putting past mistakes behind them

Getting business done early in the January transfer window is not something we’re used to. The earliest we’ve signed a player in the New Year in the past decade, loan or permanent, was Stephen McLoughlin on 3 January 2013. (After just nine appearances he finally settled at Southend, and more recently Mansfield.)

Other than the odd anomaly — Todd Kane on loan from Chelsea on 8 January 2015, paid for by the Sky Bet Transfer Fund no less — almost all of our signings in recent years have been in the dying days of the month. If, indeed, they even signed. George Boyd’s infamous eye test on 31 January 2013 was one of the highlights of the Fawaz/Davies double act.

So, it goes without saying, the January transfer window hasn’t been something we remember fondly. Who can forget Gaëtan Bong, Adama Diakhaby and Nuno da Costa in 2020? Or Léo Bonatini and Pelé in 2019? Ashkan Dejegah in 2018 anybody? Or the not-so successful trio of Gboly Ariyabi, Ross McCormack and Joao Teixera in 2017?

Like a drunk in a casino, throwing chips at the roulette wheel before being thrown out, we’re used to waking up with a hangover on 1 February. Last year, of course, brought us the welcome loan additions of Filip Krovinović and James Garner. And, it seems, we might reflect on this window a little more kindly.

Keinan Davis rolled into town on New Year’s Day from Aston Villa on loan. The 23-year-old striker has been at the West Midlands club for six years and is a player Steve Cooper has had his eye on for several seasons.

But the major news is that Djed Spence will not be recalled by Middlesbrough, following speculation that new manager Chris Wilder would cut short the 21-year-old’s loan spell.

Having proved an integral part of the side under Cooper, keeping the right-back is a major boost for the Reds. Although signing him permanently might not be as straightforward as rumours suggest — the player was linked with West Ham and Spurs just 18 months ago.

Today’s addition of Steve Cook on a two-and-a-half-year contract from Bournemouth seems a particularly savvy deal. The 30-year-old spent a decade at the Cherries, and will add a level of experience and leadership that Forest may well require as the next season or two progress.

On top of retaining Spence, keeping Joe Worrall and Brennan Johnson will surely be key to maintaining the momentum Cooper has brought to the club. And while a return to fitness for Max Lowe is important, further bids for Derby County’s Lee Buchanan may well happen.

Talk of a pre-contract offer for Hearts defender John Souttar, as well as transfer interest in Reading defender Tom Holmes, mean there’s likely to be more additions. And Cooper and the club’s recruitment team have no doubt already unearthed further names to be assessed.

Meanwhile, Harry Arter returned to the City Ground today after his loan to Charlton Athletic ended after just 300 minutes in five appearances. A reminder of the ‘bomb squad’ players who remain under contract.

We wait to see what the rest of the window brings — but it feels certain that there will be no hangover on 1 February.