Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka praised the strength of his squad after ‘super sub’ Hillal Soudani came off the bench to score the winner in yesterday’s 1-0 win over Reading.
Soudani was brought on in the 56th minute, alongside Matty Cash, and speaking post-match, Karanka was full of praise for the duo after the impact they had.
“It was important for Soudani and it was also important for Matty Cash,” said Karanka.
“Hillal wasn’t in the squad last Saturday, one week later he has scored a goal. Cash wasn’t in the squad on Tuesday but today he changed the game.
“I have a very good squad and everybody needs to understand their role in this squad because it’s impossible to achieve something in August. Everybody is going to be important and today has been proof.”
Yesterday’s Reading clash was Forest’s third game in a week in what’s been a somewhat gruelling, opening schedule and Karanka says he knew his side’s performance would drop slightly from Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw at home to West Brom.
“I knew that it was going to be difficult, almost impossible, to play in the way we did [versus West Bromwich Albion],” said the former Real Madrid assistant.
“It’s difficult to play three games in a row at this time of the season. Not just in terms of fitness condition, I think it’s really difficult to keep the levels of concentration.
“On Tuesday we showed that we can play really good football and today we didn’t play that way, but we looked really organised on the pitch and this is the mixture that I want, organised without the ball and difficult to beat for the opponents and then good and confident with the ball.”
Yesterday’s win was Forest’s first victory of the season after drawing their previous two fixtures. Speaking with a sense of relief, Karanka says he knew it was important his side finally got the three points.
“It was really important to win today because I knew that it was a very difficult game,” claimed Karanka.
“If we didn’t win today, to arrive at Wigan without a win, especially after the expectation from everybody, wouldn’t have been ideal.
“It’s important, especially for the crowd. I’m really pleased for them. I think they can be proud of the team.”
Looking ahead to Tuesday night’s Carabao Cup tie at home to Bury, Karanka says he will take a full evaluation of his squad before deciding if new signings, Michael Heffele and Sam Byram make their debuts.
“I don’t know yet because I need to know how the players are, the players that played two or three games in a row this week.
“Michael arrived on Thursday and trained with us on Friday, Sam arrived yesterday so I have to speak with him.
“For sure, I will change the players because I have a very good squad and we will take the game in the right way.”