Nottingham Forest’s Under 21s coach Jimmy Gilligan is thrilled with the interest Stuart Pearce and his staff are showing in the club’s young players.Gilligan, who is embarking on his first full season at The City Ground, has been tasked with leading The Reds’ Under 21s side and believes the enthusiasm shown by the first-team coaches will aid his efforts to develop Forest’s stars of the future.
He told nottinghamforest.co.uk: “It’s brilliant to have a senior management team that really cares about youth.
“The gaffer, Steve Wigley and Brian Eastick are really supportive of everything we’re trying to do and they have taken a massive interest since they walked through the door.
“After every first-team training session, gaffer walks straight over to the youth team to watch. He speaks to Gary Brazil, he speaks to Steve Sutton – there’s fantastic harmony here and it’s great for the kids to be looked at like that.
“It might faze a few of them but they’ll have to get used to it if they’re going to be put under pressure in the big games.”
It’s been a busy summer of preparations for Gilligan, who has arranged a friendly against the Nike Academy, where he worked previously, on top of a number of other pre-season matches.
He said: “Kids at the Nike Academy would give their right arm to be at a club like Forest.
“I want our players to see what they are about, but equally it gives me an opportunity to look at the players they have brought in since I left.
“Over the next fortnight I will be inviting some players from the Nike Academy to train and play for us. It’s a programme we should never ignore as it’s a source of untapped talent.”
A full list of Under 21s friendlies, some of which, Gilligan says, may feature first-team players at Pearce’s request, is below:
John Madejski Academy (Bisham Abbey) - Wednesday 16 July (12pm)
Boston United (A) - Monday 21 July (7.30pm) £8 adults, £4 concessions (OAPs/students) and £2 for under 16s.
Nike Academy (A) – Friday 25 July (3pm)
Corby Town (A) – Friday 1 August (7.45pm) £10 adults, £7 concessions, £2 under 16s.
Burton Albion (St George’s Park) – Tuesday 5 August (3pm)