As far as Championship fixtures go, they don’t get much bigger than this. Nottingham Forest and AFC Bournemouth’s penultimate game of the season will have a tremendous impact on which team may start next season in the Premier League.
If Bournemouth win this fixture, they will be automatically promoted. If the game ends in a draw, the Cherries will take a three-point lead into the final game of the season. However, if Forest win, they will head into the final day in second place with the advantage of goal difference.
Bournemouth will feel as though they hold the aces currently as even a loss won’t take them out of the running, but two wins from their last seven hardly screams promotion form (W2, D4, L1). Nevertheless, Scott Parker’s side will be boosted by the fact that they haven’t lost at home in eight league games (W4, D4).
Nottingham Forest face arguably their biggest game for more than two decades when they head to Bournemouth on Tuesday night. Looking to end a 23-year exile from the top-flight, the Reds know that they are two wins away from bringing Premier League football back to Nottingham. A massive 5-1 win over Swansea City last time out set up this fixture and Forest will now chase a tenth Championship win across an 11-game period (W10, L1).
Junior Stanislas and Leif Davis are expected to remain sidelined through injury.
As for Forest, Steve Cooper was able to give key players a rest towards the latter stages of the Swansea win and will likely stick with the same starting eleven for this fixture.
Joe Lolley and Alex Mighten will likely remain on the bench provided Philip Zinckernagel has completely got over his knock, and Steve Cook is expected to remain in the heart of defence against his former club.
AFC Bournemouth: Travers; Smith, Phillips, Kelly, Zemura; Lerma, Cook; Christie, Billing, Anthony; Solanke
Nottingham Forest: Samba; Worrall, Cook, McKenna; Spence, Yates, Garner, Colback; Zinckernagel; Johnson, Surridge
Ones to watch
Solanke’s opener against Blackburn Rovers last time out was the 24-year-old’s 29th goal of the season, making this his most prolific campaign to date.
The centre forward now has 36 goal involvements this season (G29, A7) and will be looking to earn promotion back to the Premier League with Bournemouth.
The 23-year-old scored his first career hat-trick last time out and has also played a part in Forest’s only goal during their last two 1-0 away wins (G1, A1).
The Forest striker has nine goal involvements in 600 minutes of football for Forest (G8, A1) and his side are yet to lose when he has scored in the game.
The last time these two sides met was in August, as Forest played their first home game of the campaign.
David Brooks was sent off on the hour mark, leaving the Cherries with a lot of defending to do and despite Forest’s persistence, Bournemouth managed to hold out, earning their first three points of this campaign.
How to watch
This match is on Tuesday, May 3, and kicks off at 19:00 BST. Coverage of the game will be available from 18:30 BST on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football.
What the managers have said
Bournemouth boss Scott Parker spoke to the club’s media ahead of the game, talking through his side's promotion opportunity and how his team will prepare for the big game.
He said: "We have the opportunity. A win gets us promoted. What we have done throughout this season has been very process-driven and very clear-minded about what we need to do and how we need to go about things.
"That’s not going to change between now and Tuesday night. That’s going to stay the same and we are going to try and go and execute and try to get the win. This team has shown me over large parts of this year that when they need to step up, they have stepped up many a time. Tuesday night is the first time this season, after all the hard work we’ve done, we have an opportunity of getting promoted.
“There is an opportunity there for us to do that and that’s the work and the quality this team have shown over the course of a long season. We're easily the fittest team in this division, physically and in terms of what the numbers say. That is a fact. We need to just rest and recover and get ready for Tuesday.
“We need to stay very, very level, very cool – our full focus is now on Tuesday night. It’s going to be a very tough game, which we know and we are looking forward to that challenge."
Ahead of his side's trip to the South Coast, Head Coach Steve Cooper spoke to the local media about relishing this fixture.
He said: "We are so looking forward to this game. We're excited about it, we're focused and we're ready for it. It cannot come quick enough.
"It doesn't matter who we play, we want to play our way. We want to aim to be the best team and aim to do it our way. It doesn't always work and we've had some lows as well, but the intent never changes.
"Championship games can be nervy, tense affairs, but they can also be like that in a 3pm kick-off in the middle of November.
"I see a really good focus, a really good engagement and a really calm feeling amongst the players, but it has been like that for a while. They do not seem to let complacency creep in which is very important to me."