Preston North End must watch out for Championship’s top scorer at Forest

Lewis Grabban (right) celebrates scoring with Joe Lolley in the 5-5 draw at Aston Villa
Lewis Grabban (right) celebrates scoring with Joe Lolley in the 5-5 draw at Aston Villa

Awaiting Preston at the City Ground this weekend will be a Nottingham Forest side on a decent run of form.

In the Championship they are seven games unbeaten, the only fly in the ointment in recent weeks being a League Cup exit to Burton Albion.

Last week Forest were 2-0 winners over Ipswich, while three days earlier they shared an incredible 5-5 draw with Aston Villa.

Striker Lewis Grabban was on target twice in both of those games. He arrived for £6m from Bournemouth in July.

Grabban also scored in the game before that – a 2-0 win at Hull City – and already has 15 goals for the campaign.

Fourteen of those have come in the league, making Grabban the Championship’s leading scorer.

In his sights is reaching the 20-goal mark and on current form should have no problem achieving that.

Grabban said: “It would be nice. The main objective is to try to get us promotion, to try to win games as a team.

“Those things are like side things. Personal stuff is like a side piece to our success.

“But it would be nice to reach that 20-goal mark.

“I’m having a good time at the moment. I think everyone is – that’s been reflected in our performances.

“Hopefully we can get on a little winning streak and get those points as a reward.”

Forest finished 17th last season and their spending in the summer was designed to improve significantly on that.

The £6m spent on Grabban was nothing compared to the £13.2m paid to Benfica for Joao Carvalho.

In all, 16 players came in over the summer either on loan or permanently.

Michael Dawson and Jack Robinson were two ‘frees’ from Hull and Queens Park Rangers respectively.

Sam Byram (West Ham) and Jack Colback (Newcastle) were two of their loans.

Missing for Forest against PNE is Tobais Figueiredo. The Portuguese defender is suspended after a red card in the Villa thriller.

Dawson (hamstring) and Danny Fox (foot) are nursing injuries and are both doubts for Saturday.

For all the big spending, a more modest Forest signing is attracting attention.

Joe Lolley was bought in January from Scunthorpe and the winger has scored six goals this term, which has seen him linked with a move away in the new year.

With Forest heading into the weekend in fifth place, it is not a surprise that manager Aitor Karanka is pleased with how things are going.

Karanka was new to the job when Preston last visited the City Ground on January 30, Alex Neil’s men winning 3-0 that night. Reflecting on 
the campaign so far, Karanka said: “Since the season has started, this squad and this group of players all deserve credit.

“ Not just the players who are starting or who are on the bench but all the players.

“This group deserve to be at the top end of the Championship and beyond that in future – they deserve everything. It is good to see.”