Analysis: Could Britt Assombalonga be the difference for Nottingham Forest?

As Forest find themselves loitering in 20th place in the Championship table just two points off the relegation zone, the importance of their star-striker finding the net has become even greater.

Analysis: Could Britt Assombalonga be the difference for Nottingham Forest?
VITAL: Britt Assombalonga is vital to Forest's survival hopes this season. (picture: Getty Images / David Rogers)

Pressure builds on Montanier

Britt Assombalonga found the back of the net for the fourth time this season on Saturday as Forest drew 1-1 at home to Queens Park Rangers, in what was another disappointing result for Philippe Montanier’s side.

He started to show glimpses that he is close to getting back to his best as he now prepares to earn his first cap for DR Congo in their World Cup Qualifier against Guinea on Sunday afternoon.

Feeling the pressure: Forest manager Philippe Montanier is frustrated with Forest's poor run of form. (picture: Getty Images / Dan Istitene)
Feeling the pressure: Forest manager Philippe Montanier is frustrated with Forest's poor run of form. (picture: Getty Images / Dan Istitene)

Haunted by injuries

Since joining for a club record fee of £5.5 million from Peterborough in 2014, Assombalonga has scored 20 goals for the Reds. This could easily have been more if he hadn’t sustained a horrific knee injury in February 2015 during a 3-0 victory over Wigan Athletic.

Despite the fact that he managed to recover within 14 months, he is only just starting to get back to his best now due to more niggly injuries keeping him out of the first team since.

Many fans questioned the logic behind giving Assombalonga a new five-year contract back in September, wanting him to prove his fitness first. This was also seen as an attempt to keep fans happy from Fawaz Al-Hasawi after the controversial sale of Oliver Burke to RB Leipzig for £13 million.

Hindered by injuries: Assombalonga's horrific knee injury in 2014 marred his great start to the season. (picture: Getty Images / Ross Kingaird)
Hindered by injuries: Assombalonga's horrific knee injury in 2015 marred his great start to the season. (picture: Getty Images / Ross Kinnaird)

A class act

However, Assombalonga’s goal on Saturday shows why it was so important that Forest kept hold of him as he showed a touch of class to take it around QPR goalkeeper Alex Smithies and finish from a tight angle.

There is arguably no-one else in Forest’s ranks who would’ve been able to score that type of goal. Apostolos Vellios and Nicklas Bendtner are both good strikers but wouldn’t have had the pace to round the keeper and the composure to finish from that position.

Despite Forest’s dominance throughout the game on Saturday, especially in the first-half, without Assombalonga’s goal they would have come away with yet another defeat. This will be one of many points Assombalonga will help Forest gain this season.

This makes it clear that he could be the difference between staying up and getting relegated this season for the Reds. It is vital that he stays fully fit otherwise Forest could find themselves in real danger of the drop.