Tuesday, January 10, 2023

By Phil Medlicott, PA

Nottingham Forest boss Steve Cooper is looking for a response when his side host Wolves in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals after “we let ourselves down” in Saturday’s FA Cup exit at Blackpool.

The third-round tie at the weekend saw Forest thumped 4-1 by the Seasiders, who are currently 22nd in the Sky Bet Championship.

Cooper afterwards described it as “unacceptable”, and he told a press conference ahead of the Wolves match: “We let ourselves down at the weekend and I really hope we can respond and do better in this one.”

The 43-year-old, who made 11 changes to his starting line-up for Saturday’s contest, added: “The Blackpool game came at the end of a busy week where we’d played on the Sunday and Wednesday (a 1-1 draw at home against Chelsea and 1-0 win at Southampton, both in the Premier League)…and just because of the injury list, I couldn’t run the risk of picking up more.

“But, at the same time, the team we put out was more than capable of winning that match, and I say that completely respectfully to Blackpool, who obviously did well on the day.

“The moments in the game were the unacceptable bits, the goals we conceded and the chances we missed.

“(With) the mentality we are growing at this club at the moment with this group of players, that was what we don’t want to be. But the players knew that, and at the same time, as disappointing as it was, I’m not so narrow-minded to think it’s like that every day with those players.

“It’s not, and because of that, I have to trust them that they don’t let that happen again, and we move forward going into the next game and try to pick the right team to play the game plan that’s needed to be a success against Wolves.”

Cooper has been contending with a considerable injury list, and said there were “quite a few doubts” for Wednesday, without giving any names.

Forest head into the clash with Julen Lopetegui’s men, their first League Cup quarter-final since 1994, unbeaten in their last six home matches in all competitions, winning three.

It is the first of two home fixtures in four days, with Forest also hosting Leicester in the league on Saturday as they look to add another win to the victory at Southampton that took them out of the relegation zone.

Cooper said he expected a “brilliant atmosphere” on Wednesday, adding: “I know there was a lot of excitement after the Blackburn game (the 4-1 away win in the last round), so we respect that a lot.

“We’re really enjoying our football at the City Ground at the moment, there’s no doubt about that, and the atmosphere the supporters are creating.

“Whether it be a quarter-final of a League Cup or a Premier League game, one thing that’s been pretty guaranteed this year is an amazing atmosphere. The home games can’t come quick enough.”

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