Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke believes Nottingham Forest will be challenging for the top six this season, despite sitting 21st in the Championship ahead of tonight’s meeting between the two sides at Carrow Road.
“First of all, we have shown it many times that each and every game is very difficult,” he said. “I don't judge Nottingham Forest on their position now, I judge them by their potential. They are still challengers for the top six.
“They have an experienced coach and I think they are one of the best teams in the offence in the league. It is just a question of time until they start an unbeaten run. It is not if more when.
“Since Chris (Hughton) took over, they have had some unbelievably bad luck with injuries. You can see his handwriting because of their attacking play.
“The team is struggling a bit but they have quality and with his leadership and knowledge, it is just a question of time until they start a really good run. We know we have to be fully focused and fully switched on against them.”
Max Aarons is set to make his 100th Norwich City appearance against Forest, and Farke was full of praise for the young full-back in his pre-match press conference.
“Max is an outstanding player on many topics,” he said. “I can't praise him enough for what he has done since his first game. From this moment, he has been improving and growing on a daily basis.
“To see his development as a person as well is great. He is unbelievably humble and keeps his feet on the ground. He was named as one of the best young players in this league recently and I said he is not a young player anymore because he is getting to 100 appearances.
“That is now an experienced player, even though he is still very young. There is still even more to come. He knows he can work on his end product to assist a bit more and to score a bit more.”
Players looking to follow in the footsteps of Max Aarons include Norwich City Academy graduates Tyrese Omotoye, Andrew Omobamidele, Reece McAlear, Tom Dickson-Peters and Daniel Barden, who have all featured in the first-team squad in recent weeks.
“The young lads are great,” Farke added. “I have to praise them. It is a good sign when you bring in a young player and he is available to deliver - to be there and to get the ball and to go for the corner flag.
“I praised (Omotoye) him in the analysis meeting for this because I told him before that in this situation he shouldn't be too greedy. He should go for the corner flag and not give them a throw-in or a goal kick so we can press them. It is great when the young players listen like this.
“When I think about last season, Jordan Thomas and Akin Famewo had their debuts at Manchester City. They know they have a club that trusts them, but they still have to work hard. There are no gifts. They have to work incredibly hard, but once they are ready and prepared, we will play them.”
Finally, Farke also discussed the return of a small number of fans, with 2,000 supporters returning to Carrow Road as of Saturday’s win against Sheffield Wednesday.
“It was great to have our supporters back in,” he said. “We did have a pilot project where one thousand were allowed in and I was surprised then by how loud they were. They took a responsibility to shout for us and make it feel like we had a full stadium.
“Football is a game for supporters, it is a game for human beings and we need them all back as soon as possible. It is great to have some of them back.”