Nottingham Forest Under 18s midfielder Adam Crookes is looking to kick-start a frustrating season with an appearance in tomorrow night’s FA Youth Cup fourth-round clash.
Jack Lester’s side welcome Birmingham to The City Ground (kick-off 7pm), with a potential home tie against Liverpool up for grabs in the next round.
The FA Youth Cup always brings excitement for Forest’s youngsters but Crookes, who captained the side in last season’s campaign, is particularly looking forward to the match after a season blighted by injury and illness.
He told Forest Player HD: “It hasn’t been the best season for me so far but I’m fighting fit now.
“It’s been tough – I’ve been working with the physio, doing lots of fitness and strength work. I’ve been building up slowly and I think now I’m at the point where I can push on and get in the squad. I pride myself on fitness and reliability, whether that’s in midfield or defence.
“The team’s different this year so there are different strengths and weaknesses and different areas where it’s easier to fill in. I’ll look to slot in anywhere I can.”
Crookes was unavailable to face Brighton in the last round, a match Forest won on penalties.
But he believes the experience of defeating a higher-ranked side on home turf will stand The Reds in good stead against a team they have already beaten in the league this season.
The youngster said: “It was a tough game against a category one side. I don’t think the performance was on par with how we’ve been playing but hopefully we’ll pick it up in this game.
“It’s a big difference playing at the stadium with a big crowd behind us but I think most players use that to their advantage.
“We’ve beaten Birmingham in the league already. We’ll treat it as a normal game and stick to what we’re good at – a pressing game and keeping the ball moving.”
Ticket information for Thursday night's game is available here