The City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images, courtesy of @NFFC on Twitter)

A humble 9th place finish for Nottingham Forest this year might force Martin O’Neill’s hand into the transfer market and with Premier League clubs sniffing for some of ‘The Reds’ integral players, the focus could be on the free agent market.

Forest are set to lose Sam Byram and Jack Colback after both impressed on loan at The City Ground this season.

Both players contracts are due to end with their parent clubs this summer, West Ham United and Newcastle United, so an opportunity could arise to acquire them on a permanent basis.

If Martin O’Neill isn’t able to pin them down to a long-term contract, there’s a few players currently without clubs who could fill the void left by the impressive loan signings.

The highest rated free agent is former Newcastle United and Crystal Palace midfielder, Yohan Cabaye. Currently valued at £9m, Cabaye has been without a club since he parted ways with UAE Arabian Gulf League side Al-Nasr.

The deep-lying play-maker could be an excellent replacement for Jack Colback and definitely possesses the qualities to push Forest closer to the Premier League, although it’s reported Crystal Palace are lining up a reunion with the French international.

Patrice Evra has been without a club all season, after a series of peculiar social-media posts stopped any potential suitor from signing him.

The only issue would be his wages, but Evra could definitely mirror the role Ashley Cole has done at Derby County and help add an experienced approach in the full-back position.

Joe Ledley was offloaded by Derby County this January, after three years at the club. Ledley has spent many years of his career in the top-flight of England with Crystal Palace and Cardiff City.

He remained a fringe player throughout his Rams tenure, but he could offer versatility and a solid squad option if Forest were interested.

The last of the highlighted free agents is Jesus Gamez. The Spanish right-back most recently applied his trade in the Premier League with Newcastle United in the 2017/2018 season.

He doesn’t offer a direct replacement to what Sam Byram offered during his loan spell, but he could fill the gap left if O’Neill isn’t able to secure Byram’s services permanently.