Fresh quintuple blow for Leeds United's relegation rivals Nottingham Forest with stars injured
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Fourth-bottom Nottingham Forest were on course to take all three points from Saturday’s Premier League clash at Brentford after Danilo’s strike just before the interval but Cooper’s side were then dealt a series of blows after the break en route to suffering a last-gasp 2-1 defeat.
Having only recently returned from injury, Taiwo Awoniyi was substituted for Andre Ayew nine minutes after the interval, with Cooper admitting that Awoniyi was struggling to be at his best. Forest were then dealt another blow just after the hour mark as star man Brennan Johnson picked up a knock which led to the forward being substituted for Cheikhou Kouyate.
Cooper then made a third change with nine minutes left as Ryan Yates returned from a recent shoulder injury to replace Oriel Mangala but Ivan Toney then drew the Bees level at 1-1 in the next minute. But the afternoon was about to get even worse for Forest who then lost midfield ace Danilo to what appeared to be a hamstring injury and the visitors had to play the remaining minutes with ten men having used already made three changes. Josh Da Silva then bagged a 92-minute winner for Thomas Frank’s hosts, after which Forest boss Cooper was left counting the cost of taking in three games in eight days.
"There's so much you look into now with players, with it being a three-game week and possible fatigue," said Cooper, as quoted by Nottinghamshire Live. "You look at the numbers for distances covered and things like that.
"Danilo is a fantastic athlete, very fit and resilient. He was the one guy we weren't worried about keeping the effort levels for the whole game, so to see him go down and come off was just something we didn't expect. There were other guys that we knew were fighting to keep up physically. There's no shame in that, that's how it is - Brentford made a load of changes as well.
"It's not the first time that has happened to us (seeing out a game with 10 men due to an injury). Brennan had a knock as well. He was another one who had given a lot the other day. We knew some changes were coming in the game, in terms of substitutions, because of fatigue. It was a real call before the game about whether to go with some of the same players.
"Taiwo, for example, has been out for a long time and not been back that long. To go three games in a week was a big call. As much effort as he gives - and he's never lacking - sometimes he was struggling to be at his best.
"We knew those sorts of decisions were coming, and we had to make them on what we thought would be right for the game. We knew more set-pieces were coming, so we wanted the right players in the box to defend them and the aerial threat. You are hoping to be able to see it out. To concede the goals that we ended up doing, with some of the decision-making around them, is tough to take.”