8:00am Wednesday 13th February 2013
By Marc Iles
DOUGIE Freedman is hoping to play party pooper as he plots a path through Nottingham Forest this weekend.
Wanderers have reason to celebrate after bouncing back to form with a thrilling derby victory over Burnley last weekend to breathe fresh life into their slim play-off chances.
But for that feelgood factor to continue at the Reebok, Freedman’s Whites must gatecrash Davies’s homecoming at the City Ground.
Davies was unveiled officially on Monday in what will be the Scot’s second spell at Forest – the last having ended in acrimonious circumstances 20 months earlier after a public fall-out with the previous regime and a second successive failure to negotiate the play-offs.
Hopes are high in the East Midlands that his return can reignite the promotion push that had faltered a little during Alex McLeish’s brief time in charge.
Freedman admits that the change in management may require some flexibility in his own approach to the game.
The Glaswegian takes great pride in the fact that his game-plan is formulated well in advance, but the likely change in style and tactics under Davies, rather than McLeish, could mean a spot of thinking on his feet.
His task of picking a team is complicated further with the return to fitness of Mark Davies, and the likes of Medo, Stuart Holden and Matt Mills coming through unscathed for the development squad in their 1-0 victory over Bury on Monday night.
Saturday’s goalscorers Craig Davies and David Ngog have also staked a strong claim for a start, handing the manager plenty to think about ahead of the weekend.
“There isn’t a better situation to be in as a manager,” he said.
“I’ll be picking a side and a certain way of playing that I think can win the game against Nottingham Forest. I have to try to fit the players into that and hopefully I have got a big enough squad to manage it.
“There are lots of things to take into consideration; condition of the pitch, the new manager, and how Forest shape up.
“Ultimately, I’ll pick players according to how they train and fit into that.”
This weekend will also mark the start of a second stint for former Wanderers coach Julian Darby, now installed as first-team coach at the City Ground.
Lifelong Wanderers fan Darby fulfilled a lifelong dream in October as he assisted Jimmy Phillips and Sammy Lee for a three-game spell before Freedman’s arrival.
And Davies will be hoping the Boltonian’s inside knowledge of the squad will come in handy when the two sides meet in Nottingham for the first time since 2001, when goals from Dean Holdsworth and Gareth Farrelly gave Sam Allardyce’s side a 2-0 win.
Davies has only once managed a side against Wanderers before, guiding Derby County to a 1-1 draw against Sammy Lee’s Whites back in September, 2007.
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