Birtles implores Forest owners to spend

4 August 2012 11:47

Nottingham Forest legend Garry Birtles has urged the club’s new owners to splash out and sign a quality striker.

Forest were taken over by the Al-Hasawi family from Kuwait last month and have already strengthened the club’s squad with the signings of Danny Collins, Greg Halford, Danny Collins and Adlene Guedioura.

All are good signings at Championship level but Birtles – who was a Champions League winner at Forest and made over 200 appearances at the club – expressed his desire to see a big-name arrive at the City Ground.

“We are getting to the point where, if there are to be further additions, the new owners are going to have to put their hands in their pockets,” Birtles wrote in his weekly column in the Nottingham Post.

“We will be able to judge how serious they are (and) how much intent they have when it comes to making Forest a force in the Championship.

“There has been talk they are in the market for a marquee signing; that they do want to demonstrate their seriousness with a big acquisition. There is not a single Forest fan who would not like to see that. I know I would.

“If they do go out and spend a few million pounds on a new signing, in a strange way, it would put a lot of minds at rest. Because then there would be no more lingering doubt. We would know that the Al-Hasawi family are genuinely the real deal.

“They have done nothing to suggest they are not. But making a statement of intent would not do them any harm. And, the fact is, the team needs one as well.

“Because, on the pitch, one of the biggest things Forest are missing is a striker who can get more than 20 goals this season. And if you can add a Premier League class striker to the mix, then you have the formula for success. You have a good chance of winning promotion.”

Birtles named Brighton forward Craig Mackail-Smith as an ideal signing, although the Scottish international is also wanted by Leeds United.

Threat of violence sees friendly cancelled

4 August 2012 11:44

Leicester City’s proposed friendly against Lincoln City has been called off due to fears for public safety.

Leicester were scheduled to travel to Lincoln for a pre-season fixture on Saturday as they finetune their preparations for a busy Championship season.

But the clash will not go ahead, with a statement from Lincolnshire Police revealing that they received intelligence that the match may be disrupted by travelling fans with the intention of causing serious disorder.

“In close consultation with the club, we have reviewed the situation and looked at the potential consequences if the game goes ahead,” the statement continued.

“It has been decided to cancel the match on the grounds of public safety.”

Chief Inspector Kieran English added that ‘the risk to the public is just too great’ for the match to go ahead.

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Poyet wants Mackail-Smith to stay

4 August 2012 11:37

Brighton manager Gus Poyet is keen to retain the services of striker Craig Mackail-Smith despite interest from Leeds United.

Leeds manager Neil Warnock has made the 28-year-old one of his main transfer targets as he looks to bolster his attacking options.

But the Scottish international is a wanted player at Brighton according to his manager.

“We are really conscious of trying to make sure Macca (Mackail-Smith) can go and score over 20 goals next season,” said Poyet, who wants to sign a target man to get the best out of the former Peterborough United forward.

“We’re looking for the right player (to partner Mackail-Smith). We got a couple of loans last year, Billy Paynter and Sam Vokes, and even though they did a job for us I was still thinking they were not the type of player we needed.”

Poyet’s comments may prompt Warnock to look elsewhere, with former Leeds hero Jermaine Beckford – now at Leicester City – and West Ham United’s Nicky Maynard linked with moves to the Yorkshire giants.

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Clough unhappy with misfiring Derby

4 August 2012 11:43

Derby County manager Nigel Clough was disappointed after his side drew 2-2 against Colchester United in a friendly on Tuesday.

Derby took the lead thanks to a Magnus Okuonghae own goal after just 12 minutes but a Freddie Sears double put the League One outfit in front.

And although Clough’s men rescued a draw thanks to Theo Robinson’s late effort, the Derby boss was not pleased with his side’s profligacy in front of goal.

“We should have been three up before we conceded the first goal,” Clough said.

“The game should have been over by half-time, so that is the frustration.”

“The two goals we conceded were poor but there are two weeks to go before the Championship starts for us to work on things, although there were a lot of good things again, the passing was good and we created chances.”

The match also saw 19-year-old defender Mark O’Brien make his return for Derby after suffering a serious knee injury in December.

Hoyte signs on at Middlesbrough

4 August 2012 11:12

Defender Justin Hoyte has signed a new two-year deal with Championship outfit Middlesbrough.

Hoyte saw his contract at the club expire at the end of the season but the former Arsenal man remained training with Middlesbrough in the bid of winning a new deal.

And the 27-year-old – who is a former England under-21 international – was successful, impressing manager Tony Mowbray enough over the pre-season.

“It’s great to get everything signed and now I can concentrate on the new season,” Hoyte said.

“We have a lot of new faces and there is a great atmosphere in the dressing room. There is competition throughout the whole squad and that will drive everyone on to do well.

“Middlesbrough is a fantastic club and I have really enjoyed my time here. The North-East is now my second home and I feel very settled in the area.

“I really believe we can make a strong challenge this season and I’m looking forward to playing my part.”

Hoyte has made 108 appearances in his four years at the club.