Nottingham Forest v West Ham United

Werther's originals, Australian sheep farms and condoms. Must be another Preview Percy, er, preview. There may be some stuff about football in there too if you can be bothered to look. We couldn't......

They're getting their money's worth out of me this week aren't they? Or they would be if they actually paid me. And past sell-by date Werther's Originals don't count. So next up we have to mosey on up the M1 to the City Ground Nottingham where Forest will host us in a third round FA Cup tie. Kick-off is at midday and, should the scores be level at full time, it'll be all back to our place to try and fit a replay in somewhere along the line.

Forest, the world's most hated club with the right amount of syllables in its name to fit the song, sit in 5th place in the Championship at the moment with 40 points from 24 matches. They are seven points off an automatic playoff place and four points clear of Brighton in 7th place.

The spotty work experience kid tells me that they've won three and drawn three of their last six league matches, the wins coming away at Sheffield Wednesday (1-0), and at home to QPR (2-0) and Leeds (2-1). The draws came at home to Ipswich (0-0) and away at Birmingham (0-0) and at Reading (1-1).

They are managed by Billy Davies, who you might recall was in charge of the Preston team that we beat in the 2005 Playoff final. Davies is now in his second spell at Forest having been sacked at the end of 2010/11 having failed in the playoffs. Just under two years later he returned after changes in the composition of the Forest board paved the way for him to take over from Alex McLeish who had left "by mutual consent" (yeah, right). Whilst at Preston, Davies' teams were characterised by a tendency to go down clutching their faces at every opportunity backed by a constant barrage of twaddle being shouted at the ref from Davies and his staff on the touchline. That's one thing we could do without.

The usual first choice 'keeper is a chap called Karl Darlow. Darlow is the grandson of a former Welsh international striker called, wait for it, Ken Leek. So Darlow actually qualifies for Wales by having a granddad called Leek, though he turned down an invitation to join the Welsh squad for a friendly against Austria last February.

There are a couple of ex-Hammers in the squad. Sadly we won't be seeing anything of Academy product Chris Cohen, who is the current club skipper. On his debut for us at 16 Cohen was the youngest outfield player to play for us in over 80 years and he formed part of the 2004/05 promotion squad before leaving for Yeovil (originally on loan) the following season. He's out for the season with cruciate ligament damage. Cruel game football. You do your knee in then get drawn against your old club a few weeks later.

They also have midfielder and occasional 'keeper Henri Lansbury in the team. Lansbury was part of the last promotion squad. His most memorable match was the 4-1 win up at Blackpool where the 5 on the bench rule saw us go up there without a sub 'keeper. When Green was (erroneously) dismissed Lansbury took over between the sticks and kept a clean sheet in the process. Lansbury was a bit of a fringe player during his one season long loan and left for Forest when Arsenal (his parent club) decided to flog him at the end of the season for a reported ?1m.

There are a number of familiar faces about the place. These include Andy Reid who is back at the club where he started his English career. He's had some depressing times in his life, having spent time at Spurs. That would be depressing enough for a player, even if he were playing well. Which he wasn't. Things looked up for him a bit when he earned transfer to Charlton. One of his managers described Reid as reminding him of famous Hungarian maestro Ferenc Puskas. Whilst on the face of it, in pure footballing terms this would seem to be a compliment, for those of you not as old as me (ie nearly everyone) I should point out that there is a visual resemblance between the two, both being what you might call on the "portly" side of things.

I've mentioned striker Matt Derbyshire before. Here at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered a number of us inmates, sorry, residents, like to blame some of our less lucid moments (like this column - Ed) on concussion. Those slaps around the back of the head from Matron carry no little force. However, none of us have ever been able to attribute a Greek Cup Final victory to a bang on the head. Unlike Derbyshire who, when playing for Olympiakos a few years ago, headed a last second equaliser against AEK despite a bang on the noggin which meant that he had no idea he'd scored until he saw the crowd jumping up and down. Olympiakos went on to win 15-14 on penalties.

Striker Darius Henderson is available after suspension for this one. His career includes spells at Reading, Sheffield United and Millwall so he's not one to worry about popularity. He's looking at a third attempt to complete a trial over an alleged assault in a St Albans restaurant a few years back. The first trial collapsed when a key witness declared himself unable to leave his sheep farm in Australia to attend court. The second go last September ended with a hung jury so they're giving it another attempt in February.
The two injury doubts listed are midfielders David Vaughan and Damjel Abdoun. Vaughan is on loan from Sunderland where he provided the icing on the cake to the Di Canio era by netting the third in their 3-0 win over Newcastle.

Abdoun arrived at West Bridgeford this season from Olympiakos. French-born he's represented the cheese-eating surrender monkeys at a number of levels. However, when it came to full international recognition he switched to the nation of his parents' birth and is now a full cap for Algeria.

Our turn now. New Year's Day was depressing wasn't it. I'd suggest that Kevin Nolan might want to avoid the Swan and Superinjunction for his evening pint for the foreseeable. Surely the only sane reaction to his contribution to proceedings the other day (apart from a hefty fine) would be to lighten the weight of his kit-bag to the tune of one armband. Unless, of course, he's claiming concussion, in which case we'll send Matron over to slap some sense back into him.

Injuries? Everyone is injured. Everyone. It's a good thing that this is away as we'd be struggling to field a fully fit tea lady if we were at the Boleyn. Expect to see the likes of young Pottsy, Chambers, Ruddock-Mpanzu somewhere about the squad, as well as a bit more game time for the likes of Downing, Jarvis and possibly Adrian.
Prediction? Well it's all very well sticking a second string out against rubbish like Spurs but this will be a sterner test. The lack of resources (nobody's arrived at the time of writing) gives us few options. Having said that, a similar XI accounted for the likes of Burnley in the other cup so it's not all Mission Impossible.

Probably the last thing we want/need at this point in proceedings is a replay so, with sod's law uppermost in mind, I'll be putting the collection we had at the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered to buy Kevin Nolan a brain (?2.50) on an unwelcome 1-1 draw.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The City Ground - Won 4-1(Championship August 2011) Noble, Cole C., Chambers (og) and Reid were all on target to give us comfortable three points for what was our third successive away victory in a season where we had yet to win at home.

Referee: Martin Atkinson last seen doing our 3-0 win over Fulham. Gotta be a good omen, hasn't it?

Danger Man: Andy Reid. The chubber has a way with free-kicks. So do we: we concede them.

Daft fact of the week: Boots The Chemists was founded in Nottingham in 1849 by John Boot and transformed by his son Jesse. Between 1920 and the 1960's the chain refused to sell condoms until they realised the profits to be made on selling toothpaste, plasters and all the other stuff that teenage boys buy out of embarrassment when picking up a pack of three. Meanwhile, in 1929 Jesse Boot was elevated to the peerage and took on the name of Baron Trent of Nottingham, partly in recognition of his philantropic services, but mainly so he could avoid walking around Nottingham with the name "Jesse".

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