There have been few highlights this season, but the inclusion of several youth players in the first team at Nottingham Forest has certainly been one of those.
That is why the news of Joe Worrall’s contract extension until 2020 not only brought a smile to the face but also had me looking at tickets for Saturday’s game against Brighton.
Worrall won me over (along with, I suspect, many more) with his honest assessment of the Reds’ embarrassing 2-0 home defeat to Wolverhamption Wanderers before Christmas.
The then 19-year-old hit the nail on the head with his post match comments, which were not only widely welcomed but also had him pinned from that day forward as a future Forest captain.
Let’s just remind ourselves of those words...
“I am not sure others (players) relish the opportunity as much as they should,” he said. “I am relishing playing every game I am in the starting team. In training I want to head it, I want to kick it and I want to tackle. I want to be the best I can be. I don’t think there are many players who did that today.”
On the pitch he often looks an assured performer with a maturity beyond his years. He does the simple things well and plays with passion - something which the team had been lacking for some time.
His no-nonsense approach on the pitch was reflected off of it as, with a handful of first team games under his belt, he was brave enough to speak honestly about the club he has represented since the age of 14.
Now, it is encouraging to see that Worrall’s future is finally secured. He deserves the opportunity to captain the club he has led at under-18s and under-23s level and speaking as a fan his emergence has been one of few highlights so far this season.
Ben Brereton would be another, along with Matty Cash, Jordan Smith, and of course the ever-improving Ben Osborn along with other bright talents the club has coming through its ranks.
How long we are able to keep them for is something only the current owner, Fawaz Al Hasawi, can answer amid further speculation of another interested buyer for the club.
Following the multi-million pound sales of Oliver Burke at the start of the season and those of Michail Antonio (2015), Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles (2014) I just hope we can see this crop develop together.
Smith, Worrall, Cash, Osborn, Brereton could provide a home grown spine to the side for years to come which would not only be pleasing to see but a strong foundation to build upon for any future manager.
It might also encourage a few more trips back to the City Ground.