Nottingham Forest vs Luton Town preview: Can
hapless Hatters spring a surprise at high-flying Forest?
Forest came out on top when these sides last met at the City Ground - who will come out on top on this occasion?
Hamish Blair - Getty Images

With the second half of the season now in full swing, clubs across the EFL Championship have a clear view of what they are fighting for. Whether that is the title, play-offs or simply avoiding relegation.

For Sunday's opponents, the goals are very different. Hosts Nottingham Forest are aiming to finally make it back into the Premier League for the first time this century, whilst away side Luton Town would be happy with a 21st place finish.

Story behind the game

Forest head into the game having picked up ten points out of the last 12 on offer, with the latest being a 1-1 draw away at fellow in-form side Reading. That result saw Sabri Lamouchi's side drop to fifth in the table, but they sit just six points outside the automatic promotion places, with a game in hand. Meanwhile, Luton will be looking for their first win since the start of December, having claimed just one point from their last seven league games. A defeat at home to Birmingham City in their most recent game left them bottom of the table, four points from safety. As manager Graeme Jones will be hoping he can avoid relegation in his first managerial job.

When these sides met at Kenilworth Road in November, goals from Lewis Grabban and Sammy Ameobi gave the visiting Forest a 2-1 victory. The only other time this century where these two shared a league was 2007/08, with Forest winning 1-0 the last time they welcomed Luton to the City Ground. In fact, the Hatters haven't won there since 1983, which equates to eleven attempts without success, so will therefore be hoping to set things right on Sunday.

A win for Forest will boost their automatic promotion hopes and dreams of the premier league, whilst victory for Luton will go a long way in their bid for survival.

Team news

Lamouchi remains without long-term absentee Tendayi Darikwa, but fellow defender Carl Jenkinson could feature after returning from injury. Otherwise, Forest have no new fitness problems to be concerned about.

In the other camp, Jones could have both Izzy Brown and Martin Cranie available who have recovered from knocks. Full-back Dan Potts could also make his first start after coming back from injury.

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Predicted Line-up

Nottingham Forest:

(4-2-3-1) Samba, Cash, Figueiredo, Worrall, Jenkinson, Sow, Watson, Ameobi, Silva, Ribeiro, Grabban.

Luton Town:

(4-3-3) Sluga, Daniels, Pearson, Bradley, Potts, Mpanzu, Shinnie, Berry, Collins, LuaLua, Brown.

Key Clashes

Lewis Grabban v Sonny Bradley

Nottingham Forest striker Lewis Grabban has scored 30 Championship goals since the start of last season, which is twice as many as any of his other teammates. So it is safe to say that the 32-year-old is his side's main goal threat. Looking to quell the danger that he poses is Luton's ever present centre-back Sonny Bradley. The Hull City youth graduate has been a key part of the Hatter's defence since his arrival in 2018, as he will be hoping for a solid performance against the lethal frontman.

Carl Jenkinson v Izzy Brown

If full-back Carl Jenkinson does start on Sunday, it will be his first in the league since returning from injury. The former Arsenal player hasn't featured much since his move to Forest last year, so will be hoping to make an impression. There is a chance he will come up against fellow injury returnee Izzy Brown, who played and scored in a behind closed doors game in the week. The Chelsea loanee is now at his sixth temporary team, so will be hoping to finally impress his parent club.

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What the managers have said

Nottingham Forest boss Lamouchi has spoken to he club's media, urging his side not to underestimate their opponents, despite their position. He said:

“We need to focus on our performance. It is a trap game; it will not be an easy game, for sure, so we have to be careful.

“It is not easy to play a team that is fighting to stay in the league, so we need to play our football and produce a big performance.

“We need to play with a big determination, because at home we are doing well, and we need to stay this way.”

Meanwhile, the Luton boss spoke to local journalists, as he pleaded for fans to keep the faith in their battle to avoid relegation. He said:

“Keep faith, football turns round overnight. I can assure you the staff and the players are giving everything they've got.”

“And when you give everything, you'll get rewarded, and just hopefully it'll come on Sunday.”