Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cooper believes that Manchester United loanee James Garner is in a ‘good moment’ after ‘fighting to get in the team’.
The 20-year-old proved the difference in Forest’s 2-0 win against Peterborough on Saturday, as he opened the scoring and set up his side’s second, via a corner.
Garner’s goal and assist were his first direct goalscoring contributions of the season, since re-joining the Championship side in the summer, on a season-long loan.
Instead of playing in a midfield two, the England under-21 international played further forward in the number 10 role, which he clearly flourished and thrived in.
Garner was making his third straight start under Cooper, but the United academy star has had to remain patient, and has found himself in and out of the starting line-up.
Since Cooper took over from Chris Hughton in September, Garner has started seven Championship matches. But he has also been on the bench six times, one of which he was an unused substitute.
But the pair know each other well following Cooper’s time managing the England under-17 side, and Cooper has revealed that they have had some ‘good. honest conversations’.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, Cooper said: “At this moment in time he’s doing really, really well,” said Cooper. “He’s been a little bit in and out of the team, and we’ve had some good, honest conversations.
“I have a good relationship with Jim and his family anyway, because of our time together with England.
“These loans can be really important for young players from Premier League clubs. We hope this one is. They can be up and down – I wouldn’t say he had a down, but he was fighting to get in the team.”
Cooper believes that Garner’s ‘excellent’ performances have got himself back in the team, but the manager has warned against complacency and wants him to focus on the next match.
Cooper added: “For me, in the last three games he’s been excellent. He came on against Reading and was really, really good. He started against Luton and West Brom, and his performances were of a high level.
“Second half on Saturday, particularly, he carried that on, so he’s in a good moment. But he’s got to stay really focused and aim to play even better next week.”
Forest are currently 13th in the Championship table, six points off the play-off places, after 21 games played.
However, since Cooper took the job, the City Ground side have only lost one of their last 13 Championship matches.
Garner will be looking to maintain his good form against Swansea City on Saturday, where he will be reunited with Manchester United academy teammate Ethan Laird.
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