OPINION: Why Lichaj and Darikwa should BOTH start for Nottingham Forest

Tendayi Darikwa
Tendayi Darikwa

There is a place for both Eric Lichaj and Tendayi Darikwa in the Nottingham Forest starting XI – but on the opposite side of the defence.

It’s been start and stop action in the Reds’ right back position this season, with Darikwa being bought in in the summer to replace Lichaj.

Eric Lichaj

Eric Lichaj

But, after a string of lacklustre performances from former Chesterfield and Burnely man, Darikwa, American, Lichaj, has earnt his spot back in the team.

Now, after a recent suspension, Nottingham native Darikwa has since convinced fans that he does have something to offer in that position.

Darikwa has put in two recent impressive performance for Forest starting at right back against Reading and Queens Park Rangers but, with Lichaj’s suspension soon set to be over after Saturday’s match, he may just have done enough to claim it as his own.

Lichaj has been worthy of the spot over the recent months, adding goals to his many appearances but, after receiving a straight red card two weeks ago against Burton Albion, he couldn’t have timed his stay on the sidelines worse as the defence have started to improve drastically.

The Reds recorded a spectacular 5-2 win over QPR at the weekend - their first win in four weeks - and an impressive second half performance against Reading last Tuesday.

Darikwa played his part in both fixtures and has been slowly creeping into the fans’ good books.

Most impressively was in the 1-1 draw with Reading. The full back came close to scoring twice in the final 45 minutes and was denied a goal by a wonderful block and save.

The shots and potentional goals reminded everyone of the missing right back, Lichaj.

The US international has become a surprise goal threat over the past two seasons and hit the headlines in the New Year scoring a brace against Arsenal.

It was a FA Cup tie and Lichaj’s two first half goals helped the Reds knock out the holders.

Lichaj can bring so much to a side that other right backs struggle to do; and that’s goal threat. But, after the past two weeks, it appears that Darikwa can also bring that.

There’s not much that separates the two full backs but it is clear to see that Darikwa possesses more natural strength than Lichaj, which benefits him when fighting for the ball - a positive you always need on your side.

But, as the start of the season showed, consistency is also key and that is something where Lichaj comes out on top.

So, the easy and simple situation to the toss-up between each player is start them both – Darikwa at right back and Lichaj on the left.

Lichaj is no stranger to playing in the number three position and has featured there several times for Forest so a switch over the pitch wouldn’t be a major shock to his system.

And the Reds are also struggling for cover in that position with natural midfielder Ben Osborn having to start there in recent games. That is another strategy that has become clear to the Forest faithful - Osborn is not a defender.

Putting Lichaj at left back would also please Darikwa and not have to root him from his current good form. The player is finally starting to flourish in the Garibaldi red and Aitor Karanka should take advantage of that.

It will also only strengthen the team’s attack as they would have two attacking full backs on both sides of the channels.

It has previously only been the right side that has contributed to that, with the left always slacking in that department, but with two players with an eye for goal starting, the forwards will never be short of danger balls in the final third.

The Forest defence is finally starting to take shape and with both the in-form Darikwa and the ever-reliable Lichaj it can only improve.