Assombalonga in Africa could mean a break for Brereton


Britt Assombalonga’s recent call up to the DR Congo national team could be the springboard for young Ben Brereton at Nottingham Forest.

Forest’s record signing Assombalonga recently chose Congo over the other two possibilities at his disposal, England and Zaire. Realistically an England call up is a million miles away but stranger things have happened when you look at the likes of Jay Bothroyd and Kevin Davis in recent years. Despite being born in Zaire the burly forward has finally opted for his Congolese heritage at the second time of asking; the Football federation of Congo having approached and almost enticed him back in 2014. His father, Fedor Assombalonga was a full international for Zaire so loyalties were somewhat divided in a similar way to that of Ryan Giggs, the United legend however chose his father’s nation in the end though. (Ryan’s father Danny Wilson played rugby union for Wales)

Despite Assombalonga missing his out on his international debut due to administrative red tape, he is perfectly poised to join the DR Congo side for their upcoming African Cup of Nations in two months’ time. The 2017 tournament will take place in Gabon from January 14th – February 5th which could well see Nottingham Forest deprived of their star striker for most of this period. Something we could do without given our precarious league position at this moment in time; but there is a real positive to be taken from this situation though.

A young man by the name of Ben Brereton has been plundering goals for the NFFC academy, at various age groups. I watched him on several occasions last season for the Under 18 side and it just looked too easy for him at times, the Under 21’s provided a sterner test for him however. For the 21’s he looked a little intimidated sometimes and struggled to adapt to the physicality at first; but it seems to have had the desired effect. Brereton is now a regular for the Under 23s this season and is on fire; he is scoring at will and has many dimensions to his game play. He is good in the air and utilises the height that he’s blessed with but also seems to have gained a yard of pace. I watched him in the goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday recently and despite the score line, he stood out like a sore thumb.

Young players develop at varying rates, both physically and mentally, Tyler Walker is a prime example. Like Brereton he breezed through the academy age groups but struggled to cope with the Braun of Championship centre halves. Oliver Burke, on the other hand took to the division like a fish to water. Walker’s time in the lower leagues will serve him well though and I guarantee he’ll return a better player, he certainly has the talent.

Things are panning out perfectly for the introduction of Ben Brereton into the first team at Forest, Nicklas Bendtner is yet to return from injury but will be up and running by the time Assombalonga goes to Africa. Come January we may well have a different owner and a new manager, this will play a huge part in the fate of Brereton’s future too.  As things stand, you’d expect to see either Bendtner or Vellios as the main striker in January….or heaven forbid we actually play them together! Either way, this provides the perfect, gradual integration for Ben Brereton from the bench. It creates a low-pressure environment for the lad to get twenty minutes here and there and not be thrust under the spotlight out of sheer desperation. Last season’s embargo and the subsequent lack of strikers heaped pressure on the shoulders of Tyler Walker, who as we’ve already mentioned required a little more protection.

Personally, I think that Brereton would thrive should he be given a steady introduction in January. The thing that concerns me most is the circus that we call the “transfer window”, should we have a new manager in charge, he may opt for a loanee to cover for Assombalonga. However; I’m confident that due to the perpetual success of Gary Brazil’s academy graduates, the club will not hesitate to give Ben Brereton a deserved bite at the cherry.

Given that Apostolos Vellios or Bendtner are not blessed with pace, Brereton could be an ideal strike partner for either, it would be counterproductive to play the lad own his own though. The youngster is very nippy and looks deceptively quick at times, take a look at his goals against QPR under 23s for evidence of this statement. As I’ve mentioned earlier, they’re could well be a new manager at the helm by the time Britt is called for duty but you could do a lot worse than Ben Brereton in the new year.


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