Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper celebrating after a recent victory (Adam Davy/PA).
23 January 2023

Steve Cooper: Nottingham Forest will attack semi-final against Manchester United

23 January 2023

Steve Cooper says Nottingham Forest “really want to attack” their Carabao Cup semi-final against Manchester United that will see them play the two legs back-to-back over the next fortnight.

Forest host United in the first leg on Wednesday, then will head to Old Trafford for the second encounter a week later having not had a game in between due to exiting the FA Cup in the third round 4-1 at Blackpool.

Boss Cooper told a press conference on Monday: “It’s not been an easy ride for sure to get to the semi-final, and we’ve treated it like every other game, one we want to do well in and win.

“Unfortunately we’re out of the FA Cup, we’re not very proud of that and the way we went about it, but these two games now fall in a two-week Premier League break.

“There’s enough recovery and preparation time to be ready for these games, there’s no doubt about that. The two games have actually come at a good time.

“It’s a semi-final, we really want to commit to it, we really want to attack it. Obviously it’s Man United, it’s over two legs, incredibly tough games – but ones we want to have no regrets about.

“We’re in the semi-final of an important cup. I think we should go into it thinking they don’t come along very often, so treat it like it might be the last one.

“There’s a real good feeling about the semi-final in the city, the stadium will obviously be the atmosphere that it’s been every single game so far this season, which has been incredible, and we should really embrace that.”

Forest played Erik ten Hag’s United away in the league in December, losing 3-0, and Cooper added: “We felt that we didn’t play with enough belief and courage in the game.

“It was going to be hard whatever, and we might have played better and still got nothing out of the game. But we did walk off the pitch thinking we could have done a bit better there, and I don’t want that in these games, I don’t want any regrets.

“We’re feeling a good pressure of wanting to do well, and I just want to make sure we go into the games with a real positive mindset, I want the players to believe they can succeed.

“Of course we’ll respect United and their strengths and there’s many of them, they’re dangerous in so many ways. But we have to believe we can play well in this game and that we can have a positive contribution.”

Forest – four-time League Cup winners, who were last in the semis en route to finishing runners-up in 1992 – have been assessing midfielder Ryan Yates, who came off feeling unwell during Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Bournemouth.

Former United man Jesse Lingard could make his return to action, having been back in the Forest matchday squad after a hamstring injury as an unused substitute at the Vitality Stadium.

Goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is on loan from United, is both ineligible and injured, having been ruled out for four to five weeks after sustaining a thigh issue against Leicester on January 14.

Wayne Hennessey came into the side on Saturday, while the club weigh up whether to bring in a new goalkeeper following Henderson’s injury.

Cooper said: “It’s still something we’re thinking about. We actually thought Dean’s injury might have been initially a lot longer than it’s actually going to be.

“Obviously Wayne played at the weekend and we’ll see if we want to keep with that or if we’re going to make a change, but we haven’t decided yet – and if we do, it’s got to be right.”

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