Forest land legend O’Neill

The former Northern Ireland international enjoyed a 10-year spell with the East Midlands outfit, during the most successful time in Forest’s history.

O'Neill helped them win the First Division title, two European Cups and two League Cups as a player and now the experienced manager has the opportunity to try and take his beloved club back to the big time.

Forest parted company with Aitor Karanka last week and have moved swiftly to bring in O'Neill, with the club currently just four points off the playoffs.

The length of O'Neill's contract at present has not been confirmed by the Championship side, who lost 2-0 to strugglers Reading in their last league outing on 5th January, before being knocked out of the FA Cup at the hands of Premier League giants Chelsea.

Forest will begin life with O'Neill at the helm on Saturday when they welcome Bristol City to the City Ground.

Nottingham Forest are 13/10 to win, 12/5 to draw and 2/1 to lose to the Robins.

View all Soccer betting

Karanka makes Forest exit

Nottingham Forest have parted company with head coach Aitor Karanka, with the club just outside the Championship play-off places.

The 45-year-old took charge at the City Ground in January 2018, having previously guided Middlesbrough to promotion to the Premier League in 2016.

Karanka started his senior coaching career as an assistant at Real Madrid, the club where he spent five years as a player, in between two spells with Athletic Bilbao.

A short statement from Forest confirmed: "Aitor Karanka has asked to be released from his contract as the manager of Nottingham Forest Football Club.

"The club have agreed to this request and the terms of departure have been agreed. Both parties wish each other every success for the future and there will be no further comment from either party."

Forest, currently seventh in the table, have only won one of their last six Championship games, but that victory came last time out when they saw off table-toppers Leeds United 4-2 at the City Ground.

Following that, what turned out to be Karanka's last game in charge came in a 2-0 FA Cup third round defeat at Chelsea.

The Midlanders are back in action on Saturday when they travel to lowly Reading, with the visitors side 6/5 to win the game, while the draw is priced at 12/5 and a 1-1 final scoreline is available at 5/1.

View all Soccer betting

Morata backed to come good

Chelsea assistant coach Carlo Cudicini has backed striker Alvaro Morata to enjoy success in front of goal after scoring twice in the FA Cup third-round win over Nottingham Forest.

The 26-year-old Spain international had only scored once in his previous eight games and, while he missed a number of chances at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, he also netted both goals in a 2-0 win for the Blues.

Afterwards, Cudicini told the club's official website: "It was very important for him to score two goals, which can only be good for his confidence.

"His body language was a bit down, but in training he's working very hard and we all knew that sooner or later he would be able to turn the corner and start scoring goals.

"Thankfully he did it today, it was very important because we really care about this competition and we want to do well.

"He's a great striker, he has great qualities and now his confidence is back, I'm sure he will keep on scoring goals for us."

Morata and Chelsea have only a few days to get ready for their next match, which is a Carabao Cup semi-final first leg trip to Wembley to take on Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday evening.

The Premier League meeting of the two sides at the same venue in late November finished in a 3-1 victory for the hosts, with Dele Alli, Harry Kane and Son Heung-min their goalscorers.

Spurs are 21/20 to win again on Tuesday, with the draw priced at 11/4 and a 1-1 final scoreline available at 6/1.

View all Soccer betting

Karanka bemoans future uncertainty

Aitor Karanka blamed Nottingham Forest's 1-0 defeat at struggling Millwall on the speculation over his future as manager.

The Spanish tactician is believed to be in danger of being axed at The City Ground with some reports suggesting he would be replaced if Forest failed to win at The Den on Saturday.

And, Karanka felt that was on the minds of his players in the first half of the game when Ryan Tunnicliffe fired the Lions into an early lead.

Forest improved after the break, but they could not find an equaliser and now sit 10th in the Championship, six points adrift of East Midlands' rivals Derby in the final play-off place.

Afterwards, Karanka said: "The way we approached this game and what happened in the last 24 hours, I was a little concerned with what happened to the players because the first half we were not ourselves.

"We didn't play with our intensity. We tried to do things we don't know what to do. We didn't play.

"The last 24 hours it wasn’t the best atmosphere to prepare for a game. Maybe when I played 15 years ago you could arrive to this game without listening to anything. We already knew what was going on. I felt the players were a little bit down before the game.

"I hope we can recover quickly mentally because on Tuesday we have another challenge."

Forest, who are 14/1 to be promoted this season, host leaders Leeds United on New Year's Day and are 21/10 to bounce back with a win. The Whites are 13/10 to pick up the three points and the draw is 23/10.

View all Soccer betting

Smith happy with winning habits

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is eager to see his team maintain the standards they have set in winning their last three games in the Championship.

The Villans are back in action at home to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday evening, with a tough runs of games to follow which sees them take on Middlesbrough, West Brom, Stoke City and Leeds United.

And former Brentford manager Smith is aware of just how hard the challenge of getting back into the promotion shale-up will be for his side following a disappointing start to the season.

He told the Express & Star: "We've now won three games on the spin.

"This group knows how to win games, they did it enough last season and were unfortunate at the last hurdle. We will just have to keep the run going.

"I said it before, under Steve Bruce this team were good here. Not many teams came to Villa Park and beat Villa, so let's hope that will continue."

Smith hopes to have midfielder John McGinn available after he missed the 4-2 derby victory over Birmingham City due to a calf strain, but he has major doubts over both Albert Adomah and Henri Lansbury after they picked up knocks against the Blues.

"I'm hopeful John will be back for Wednesday. He wanted to play (against Birmingham), but I couldn't risk losing him and missing another couple of games."

Villa are available at 10/11 to defeat Forest and are 15/2 to claim a 2-1 win, with the Villa Park outfit 4/1 to secure promotion come the end of the season.

View all Soccer betting

Karanka keen to build on shock win

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka hopes his side can replicate the form they showed in Wednesday's victory against Newcastle in the Championship.

Goals from Daryl Murphy, Matty Cash and Gil Dias helped Forest record a fine 3-1 win against Rafa Benitez's side in the second round of the Carabao Cup.

Forest spent heavily in the summer on new players but they have made a modest start to the Championship season, winning one and drawing four of their first five matches.

They can be backed at 9/2 to be promoted this season and at 7/2 to beat Brentford this weekend.

Former Middlesbrough manager Karanka said: "The team deserved a good performance. It has been clear that when we play our football, we are a very good team.

"I didn't say anything because I didn't like the excuses, but I could feel what was happening in the games in the league were normal. We showed against Newcastle that without the pressure of the league we are a very good team and now we have to learn to be ourselves and take that pressure off."

Meanwhile, Newcastle have only taken one point from their first three Premier League matches of the season and are now out of the Carabao Cup.

Benitez is not too disheartened though, saying: "I don't agree that Forest were the better team and I'm not concerned by how we played. I'm really pleased with the players that were on the pitch because they were trying their best."

Benitez defends tactics

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez has defended his tactics against some of the top sides in the Premier League.

The Spaniard received criticism after Newcastle's home defeat to Chelsea on Sunday, pundits questioning what they saw as an extremely defensive approach at St James' Park.

His side had only 19% of the possession in the 2-1 home defeat but Benitez defended his tactics, saying he had to analyse how best to set up his team against quality opponents.

He said: "You see the price of any player, a couple of Chelsea's players will be more expensive than any of our last six transfer windows. When you put all these things in context, then you have to decide your game plan.

"Our fans know about our team and why we have to do this. You have the pressure of being the head of a mouse or tail of a lion.

"You can talk, say whatever you want, but the transfer window always has an impact on your tactics. With the team we have, we are doing well."

Benitez was talking at a press conference ahead of his team's EFL Cup tie against Championship side Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.

The Newcastle boss said that Jamaal Lascelles, Jonjo Shelvey and Matt Ritchie are all injured and will miss the trip to the City Ground where Newcastle are 6/4 with Forest 2/1.

They may have been missing anyway with Benitez saying that he was considering bringing in some younger players for the cup tie with possible debuts for both Sean Longstaff and Yoshinori Muto.

Last weekend's defeat to Chelsea means that Newcastle are still seeking their first win of the new Premier League season, having one point from their three games so far.

They face the daunting prospect of trying to pick up three points at the home of the champions on Saturday, playing away at Manchester City and they are 20/1 for the win with Pep Guardiola's side 1/10.

View all Soccer betting

Brunt demands big reaction

Chris Brunt hopes that West Brom can learn from the mistakes they made against Bolton Wanderers when they take on Nottingham Forest on Tuesday.

After suffering relegation from the Premier League last term, Albion were expected to challenge for promotion this season but suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Bolton on the opening weekend of the campaign.

Brunt has demanded a big reaction from the Baggies players when they take on Aitor Karanka's team, who have spent heavily on new players over the summer.

Albion are 2/1 to win at The City Ground and 11/4 to be promoted from the Championship this season while Forest are 10/3 to go up.

"It helps with the next game coming quickly," said 33-year-old Northern Ireland international Brunt. "You have to move on. You don't have much choice really.

"That's the beauty of this league. You can never dwell on anything too long, get too high or too low.

"Hopefully we'll learn from the mistakes we made on Saturday because for the majority of the game we were dominant. We had a lot of the ball."

West Brom completed the loan signing of Newcastle United striker Dwight Gayle on Monday while Salomon Rondon has moved in the opposite direction.

Forest’s potential excites Karanka

Aitor Karanka can't wait for the new Championship campaign to start after revamping the Nottingham Forest squad over the summer.

The former Middlesbrough manager has snapped up the likes of Joao Carvalho, Michael Dawson, Lewis Grabban, Luke Steele, Hillal Soudani and Tobias Pereira Figueiredo since the end of last season while Gil Bastiao Dias, Diogo Goncalves and Jack Colback have arrived on loan at The City Ground.

Forest are 10/3 to be promoted this season while they are 15/8 to beat Bristol City in their opening game of the campaign on Saturday.

Karanka said: "Of course I am excited. The whole club have been working very well this summer.

"It has been a nice summer and I enjoyed the pre-season because everything has been perfect so far.

"The players have been working really well, the new ones and the players that have been here. Everybody has understood what is going on so I am very pleased."

Forest have produced some good performances in pre-season, with a 3-0 victory against Malaga and 2-0 win over Premier League outfit Bournemouth the highlights.

Leeds United are 7/2 to be promoted from the Championship in the 2018/19 campaign while Tony Pulis' Middlesbrough are 11/4 to go up.

Karanka carries on signing

Nottingham Forest boss Aitor Karanka has continued to strengthen his squad by landing Jack Robinson from QPR.

The defender, who has penned an initial two-year deal at The City Ground, said: "I am delighted. I met Aitor about four weeks ago and, from the first moment I met him, this was the club that I wanted to sign for.

"He has the same ambition that I do in striving forward and getting this club to the top level so it was an easy decision for me to sign.

"I had been at QPR for four years so it was a tough decision and the fans have found it hard that I have left, but I had to make the right career choice for me. I think this is it, I'm happy to have signed and I can't wait to get going."

Karanka has also signed Algeria international Hillal Soudani for an undisclosed fee from Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.

The 30-year-old, who has also scored 21 goals in 41 appearances for his country, has agreed a three-year deal at the City Ground.

Portuguese trio Gil Bastiao Dias, Diogo Goncalves and Joao Carvalho arrived at The City Ground earlier this summer with Carvalho moving from Benfica for £13.2million.

Forest are 4/1 to be promoted from the Championship in 2018/19 while QPR are 12/1 to go up.