Cooper applauds the City Ground crowd (Credit: Richie Sumpter)

Under Steve Cooper, Nottingham Forest are mounting a charge up the EFL Championship table, a strong squad will be vital if they want to continue their success, so here are the five youngsters that should be on Cooper’s radar.

Will Swan

The 21-year-old striker has 7 goals in 11 starts for Nottingham Forest Under-23s in Premier League 2. Swan has been with Forest since the age of 13 having trained with previous Reds boss Chris Hughton and making his debut on 29th November 2020 as a substitute.

Since then he has gone out on loan to Southern League side Truro City in 2020 and Port Vale in 2021, but only had four starts. Swan will likely need another lower-league loan before being a consistent member of the first team. Lewis Grabban the team’s top scorers is currently the starting striker, however at 34 years of age and his contract expiring at the end of the season Forest could have their replacement in their own academy.

Dale Taylor

The 18-year-old northern Irish forward has already has an appearance for his national team. Taylor joined the Forest academy from Linfield in July 2020.  In November 2021, he received his call up to Northern Ireland against Lithuania and made his senior debut as a substitute.  He has started 4 games in the U18 Premier League with 2 goals.

Forest fans have previously raved about Taylor after scoring as they progressed in the FA Youth Cup beating Bristol Rovers 3-1.  Several fans have called for Taylor to be with the first team and that he has a bright future. It could be too early for Taylor but is definitely one for the future to keep an eye on.

 Aaron Donnelly

Donnelly is a 18-year-old left back from Northern Ireland. With 13 starts in Premier League 2, he has already caught the attention of manager Steve Cooper as he travelled with the squad to The Hawthorns. Cooper has said: ‘He’s a left-footed defender, we’ve seen him play a couple of times and he’s trained with us a few times.’

He made a move to the City Ground this summer from Northern Irish Side Dungannnon Swifts. In 2019 and signed his professional contract this summer. He has been a regular for the U18s and U23s and has been with the first team during preseason.

Ateef Konate

He is a 20-year-old French midfielder that signed with Forest in 2020. Konate has made his debut for Forest, starting in a EFL Cup fixture against Bradford City. He joined from Le Havre making 32 appearances for them in their second league and can represent Mali as his national team.

With 13 starts in Premier League 2, he is the one that is the likeliest to have more appearances for the senior team. Konate has 2 goal and 3 assists in this season’s campaign.

Fin Back

He is a 19-year-old player who can operate as a midfielder or right back. Back has been apart of the Forest Academy since he was 8 years old. He signed his professional contract in October 2019 and extended his deal on July 2021.

Back made his debut on 11th August 2021, starting in an EFL Cup fixture against Bradford City. He has played 8 times in Premier League 2 and 2 times in the Championship. Interestingly, Back is the son of Rugby World Cup winning star Neil and many fans have jokingly stated that he tackles like father.