Nottingham Forest’s Premier League promotion attempts depend a lot on a handful of players. If these players don’t play upto a certain level, the Reds will struggle to go up after years of struggle in the Championship. Sabri Lamouchi’s men find themselves at fourth in the table with a game in hand. With one half of the season to go, Matty Cash’s performances will go a long way in defining where Forest will finish.
The performances of Joe Lolley and Joe Worrall have been crucial, with Lewis Grabban having found the net 14 times. But Cash has arguably been Forest’s best player this season. In fact, he’s been one of the best defenders in the division this season.
At 22, Cash has already drawn links with clubs like Everton in recent weeks. When that happens, it is time to sit up and take notice. This is a right-back who loves to get forward. In fact, he has been a regular right-back only this season under Lamouchi. Before that, Cash was a right midfielder for Forest.
Last season, Cash had played a total of 41 first-team games. He was predominantly playing as a right-winger, but also made six appearances in central midfield and four from the left-wing. He had an impressive tally of eight goals and two assists, with the left midfield yielding three goals in four outings. From the right side of the pitch, he got four goals and two assists.
He completed 1.1 dribbles per game last season, also winning 1.7 tackles per game. He also had a tally of 0.9 key passes per game for the club.
These numbers were quite the same in the 2017-18 campaign, when he was a right midfielder. He got two goals and five assists in all competitions from that position, despite having been out for a lot of the first half of the season. His transition to being the best right-back in the Championship this season has been rather impeccable.
When it comes to this season, Cash has been providing Forest that attacking intent on the right side of the pitch. He has two goals and four assists to his name from that position, completing 1.1 key passes per game- the highest of his career so far. He has been using his crossing and long-ball playing ability to very good effect too.
Cash is completing 1 cross per game, playing1.8 long-balls per game too. It has been allowing him to dictate play, helping him play 34.2 passes per game. That too is the highest tally of his young career. When playing further forward, Cash couldn’t play more than 18.6 passes per game. But he now has the room to use his ability on the ball too.
For a player like him, it is natural to assume that he will get dribbled past often. But Cash has been dribbled past just once per game this season. It shows that this isn’t just a player who is good going forward. He is a sound reader of opposition attacks. Perhaps, being a former winger himself has taught him to do that. He knows where the opposition winger is going to be. That always works in his favour.
Recently, respected journalist Henry Winter was full of praise for Cash in a performance against Bristol City.
He tweeted: “Cash, especially first half, looks Premier League class, defending and attacking, good passing, quick to move into midfield.”
And that is big praise for a 22-year-old. Against Bristol City, Cash won four aerial duels and completed two dribbles. He also completed 34 passes– the highest for the club that day. And per Whoscored, he was their one of their best player in the game too.
For a player whose deal runs out in the summer of 2023, Forest have two options. If they don’t go up, Cash could well be on his way. And the contract situation helps them get a potential maximum yield from a potential sale. But if they go up, it could be a lot like Ryan Sessegnon when he was at Fulham. They could keep him and offer him the bait of Premier League football. But if they go back down, he could leave for a bigger club like Sessegnon did.