Nottingham Forest manager Stuart Pearce believes a continuation of his side’s fine defensive form will be key to earning victory at Middlesbrough on Boxing Day.
The Reds take a festive trip to Teesside to face a Boro team who, despite being beaten by Ipswich in their last match, sit fourth in the Sky Bet Championship.
And while Pearce recognises the talents of Aitor Karanka’s side, he is confident his own team will be more than a match for their opponents.
He told Forest Player: “We need to defend well – nullify their threats. Albert Adomah and Patrick Bamford are two who are playing particularly well for them at the moment.
“We have players in our team who can score goals, we just have to make sure we’re nice and tight at the back, which we have been in the last few games – a clean sheet at Rotherham and conceding only one in the Charlton game and on Saturday, albeit a penalty.
“We’re going into the game having lost one in six matches so we’ve got every opportunity to put a marker down. It’s a game we should be excited by.”
The Reds were unfortunate not to beat Leeds United on Saturday after Matty Fryatt appeared to have two goals wrongly ruled out for offside. But Pearce is taking the positives from his forward’s performance at the weekend.
He said: “I think for a striker to get one legitimate goal chalked off must be a frustration, let alone a hat-trick. But we’re just pleased he’s got another goal for us and, on top of that, he played very well.
“All three were one-touch finishes and he was Johnny-on-the-spot in the 12-yard area. If you continually get in there and you can finish well with one touch, that’s where strikers get their goals from.
“If we can keep him fit and firing I think he can produce a decent tally for us.”
Click here to watch Pearce’s full pre-match interview on Forest Player.