Joe Lolley Interview: Nottingham Forest Midfielder Says Club “Prepared” for Premier League | Football News

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Joe Lolley talks to Jonathan Oakes about life under Sabri Lamouchi and his unusual career in professional football.

Joe Lolley talks to Jonathan Oakes about life under Sabri Lamouchi and his unusual career in professional football.

There is no doubt that the main story of the Sky Bet Championship in recent months has been the slowing of the form of the two teams that have paved the way for large parts of the season: West Brom and Leeds.

On December 11, the pair was at point level, having apparently gathered an unassailable 11-point lead between them and Fulham of Scott Parker in third. But, as has been widely documented, this lead was considerably reduced over the next two months.

Far from the headlines, several teams have closed, including Nottingham Forest. Led by former French international Sabri Lamouchi, the club have flown in and out of the play-offs since September, but a 2-0 victory over Leeds at the City Ground last Saturday cemented their candidacy as hopefuls for automatic promotion.

One player at the forefront of their promotion quest was Joe Lolley. The 27-year-old sports training graduate excels in his seventh season as a professional footballer, with four goals and three assists already in 2020.

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But it was not a completely fluid campaign for him.

"I took a little stick at first," he explained to Sky Sports ‘ EFL journalist Jonathan Oakes.

“I think sometimes expectations are high. It looks like I am apologizing but, for example, I had a broken toe at the start of the season for a few months and it was difficult. I didn't really train much and I lost a lot of sharpness. At that time, I wasn’t playing my best, but I knew that once I started to move forward, everything would happen naturally. It was nice to find the levels where I wanted to be.

"I think I played well before the new year and it was sometimes a little frustrating because things were not going well or did not lead to the goals you want as an attacking player. But I always had confidence and I knew if I kept playing well, things were going to fall and it happened, I guess, of course, without even realizing it.

Lolley gave Tyler Walker a assist in Forest's 2-0 win over Leeds last weekend

Lolley gave Tyler Walker a assist in Forest's 2-0 win over Leeds last weekend

"I hope this continues because it will only help us climb the table. We have a lot of good players, so if we are, defensively, healthy enough, if I like myself, Grabbs (Lewis Grabban) and Sammy (Ameobi), can score, we are going to win a lot more games than we lose . "

When Lamouchi arrived on the banks of the Trent River last summer, questions were raised as to whether he would be able to navigate the notoriously difficult second level of English football, particularly without previous experience.

Many skeptics have since been silenced in this regard, but as Lolley revealed, much of the season's success to date can be attributed to the managerial skills of the former Rennes boss.

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He continued: "He was a bit of an unknown quantity for some of us, but he was a very good player by the sounds of it. In its first days, we went to Spain and after a week, we knew we were on the right track.

“We entered the season fairly confident that we had a very good manager. He is tactically very good and his handling of people has also been brilliant. He understood the requirements of everything and he has allowed us to thrive this season and we are where we are because of that.

“We are a very organized team; we do our job and we make sure we do it right. I’ve been playing as No. 10 and outside this year and offensively it gives us freedom, especially to play the way we want.

“If I want to try to beat two or three players and shoot, he wants to. He doesn't want me to get the ball and pass it, he wants me to get the ball and try to do as much as possible. He gives a lot of confidence in this and when we get the ball we try to play. "

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Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Charlton prevented Forest from pushing Leeds into second place after Marcelo Bielsa's team lost points in a 1-1 draw with Brentford, but after the clash between Saturday with the West Brom leaders, they should only play two of the top six - Fulham at home on Good Friday and Preston absent on Easter Monday.

Lamouchi himself called the division "crazy," but although winger Lolley did not lead himself, he argued that the chances of reaching the Premier League would depend on consistency.

He added: "It was a frustrating night on Tuesday after a massive victory on Saturday and I guess it has summed up the championship so far. West Brom has now given itself a bit of a head start but hopefully on Saturday we can bring them back to the chaos behind them.

27-year-old has scored five goals since the start of 2020

27-year-old has scored five goals since the start of 2020

“We are extremely organized, we are difficult to break. Once we get into a system, we do our job, are very demanding of each other, and are probably better settled that way, as the results have shown. We ‘I’ve played twice at Brentford, twice at Leeds and in those four games we conceded a goal and, to be honest, not much luck with that.

"It’s just crazy when you look at the league, three points between second and seventh now. Each team in this section will think: "Why not us? Why can't we be promoted? And probably even the teams below that will look at the number of points that have been lost and think if they put points together - three, four, five wins - that they will also be up there.

"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves, but we also know that if we lose on Saturday, it's not the end of the world; it's not like we're going to be out of contention. There are a lot of twists to come and this is the one that remains consistent, I think, it will fit into the first two. "

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Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Charlton

Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Nottingham Forest and Charlton

Having spent half of the 2017/18 Premier League with Huddersfield, does Lolley dream of a top flight?

He said, "I finished it - I scored a goal! I had a little taste; I didn't really like my football at the time, so it wasn’t that great to leave, but it’s good now that it would be great to take this club there.

"It is a huge, ready club, prepared for the Premier League in terms of facilities, fan base, club history and everything related. If we can do it, it would be great and personally to me it sounds like it's the right time, I'm the right age it would be nice to have a second try. "

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