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Rayleigh boy

Nov 1, 2006

09:00 - 06 November 2007

Forest's promotion push will be fuelled by the squad's fierce appetite for success.

That was the message today from skipper Ian Breckin, who admitted that in the past there were a few Reds players who were happy just to collect their pay cheques.

Now the big defender says the whole team is united in achieving the goal of promotion - and in their desire to make sure they are in the starting XI every week.

He believes the more streamlined City Ground squad helps to keep people motivated.

"There are lads here who all want to play in the first team every week, they are hungry," said Breckin, who will be part of the squad that faces Southend at the City Ground tonight.

"You have to have that at a football club. In the past we perhaps had a few lads who were not bothered, they were content to sit and pick up their money.

"Now everybody here wants to play, they are desperate for that shirt.

"In the past, we had a squad of 24 or more players and people were miles away from the first team. Sometimes they lost a bit of interest because of that.

"Now there is not a single player who is not desperate to be in that first 11."

Breckin says manager Colin Calderwood's summer streamlining, reducing the squad to 18 senior players and four or five promising teenagers, has made a big difference.

"Everyone is involved, if you are in the fringes of things, it can only take one injury to get you straight back in there," he said. "That was what happened in my case. I knew I was never far from the team.

"But now I know that Wes is breathing down my neck, he is back fit and in contention. It keeps people motivated."

And while Calderwood has reduced the numbers, Breckin has been impressed by the additions of players such as Chris Cohen, Arron Davies, Matt Lockwood, Kelvin Wilson and Neil Lennon.

"The squad is stronger," said Breckin. "Numbers wise, we are a little thin on the ground.

"If we pick up one or two injuries we can quickly find ourselves down to the bare bones.

"But while we are thin in terms of numbers, quality wise we are much better off than last season."

Forest have not had contact with Premiership Sunderland over midfielder James Perch. Reds legend Roy Keane, now in charge of the Black Cats, is reportedly interested in him.

But there has been no offer, and Forest are not keen to sell a player they regard as being an integral part of the club's future.

Rayleigh boy

Nov 1, 2006
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09:00 - 06 November 2007

As Forest's only two defeats of the season were at the hands of sides newly relegated from the Championship, you could forgive Colin Calderwood his sense of trepidation.

After Leeds and Luton Town beat his team, the Forest manager will be demanding they do not suffer a similar fate when Southend visit tonight.

But there is added motivation for Forest to claim three points from Steve Tilson's Shrimpers, as - for the second time in four days - they try to climb the League One table by beating a team above them.

Victory, in theory, could catapult Forest to the top of the table, if Carlisle and Orient were to slip up.

"The two teams that have beaten us so far this season have dropped out of the Championship, so there is a warning there," said Calderwood. "Whatever we believe the reasons are for those defeats, we do not want to add to that number tonight.

"We will be delighted if we take three points, because they will be real contenders at the end of the season.

"It is an exciting game for us. This is an ideal opportunity for us to move another place up in the league and to take advantage of being at home.

"To take seven points from nine from our three home matches would be a good tally for us.

"Three points were as important as anything on Saturday, because it moved us up the league."

Calderwood believes that, if Forest can maintain their form so far through the second quarter of the season, they will find themselves in a strong position.

"The season is well and truly bedded in now.

"You could argue that nobody has really got a step on anyone else, aside maybe from Leeds and it is only because of their points deduction that they are where they are in the table.

"If any of the teams at the top of the table show the same kind of consistency in the next quarter of the season as they have in the first, they will find themselves embedded firmly in the promotion battle - and probably quite a few points ahead of those teams who are at half-way in the league."

Calderwood knows Southend will pose a tough challenge, having heard what chief scout Keith Burt said after their 1-0 win at Northampton on Saturday.

"Keith Burt was at the game and, although Northampton had a lot of possession, he said Southend were a well drilled side and a team that fights for one another," said Calderwood.

"That is why they have been a success in the last two or three seasons.

"They were relegated from the Championship, but that does not reflect the strength that they have, they have a good team spirit, they have been together for several years."

Calderwood faces a tough choice to make up front, after seeing Nathan Tyson come off the bench to net Forest's decisive second goal.

"Nathan has given us something to think about," he said. "He had a big impact, as a lot of our substitutions have this season. You have to be fair to people that come on and do that, but you also have to be fair to the players that start.

"We will not win with the 11 players who start the game, we will win it with the 13 or 14 who take part throughout the 90 minutes."

Calderwood revealed that Julian Bennett will be fit to play, despite an injury that hampered him at the weekend.

And he says Arron Davies and Lewis McGugan are up to a second game in four days, despite recently returning from injury.

"With the games coming so quickly, there will be some tiredness. It is the start of both of their seasons, in a way.

"We will keep it in our minds that it is a heavy schedule we are going through."

If Forest can pick up a win tonight, they can consider a seven-point return more than reasonable. And they can prove a point - that they are not easy pickings for teams relegated from the Championship