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Aitor Karanka confesses he has difficult choices ahead of Nottingham Forest’s season-opener

IN PICTURE:  Forest manager Aitor Karanka'STORY: SPORT LEAD: Nottingham Forest v Derby County.  Sky Bet Championship match at The City Ground, Nottingham.  Sunday 11th March 2018.
IN PICTURE: Forest manager Aitor Karanka'STORY: SPORT LEAD: Nottingham Forest v Derby County. Sky Bet Championship match at The City Ground, Nottingham. Sunday 11th March 2018.

Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka claims this afternoon’s fine 2-0 win over Premier League side AFC Bournemouth is a culmination of a month’s hard work as Forest ended their pre-season campaign on a high.

After three wins in their previous five pre-season friendlies, and busy summer of recruitment that saw ten new faces arrive, optimism was high for Forest’s first game back at the City Ground and the 14,000 in attendance saw the Reds go ahead in the 36th minute, Tendayi Darikwa turning the ball in at the back stick after good work by Diogo Goncalves. Forest’s second then arrived shortly after the restart. The impressive Gil Dias curled a terrific effort past Bournemouth ‘keeper Artur Boruc after showing tenacity to break into the area.

Speaking post-match, Karanka said the Bournemouth victory was a good end to an ‘almost perfect’ pre-season.

“I said to the players before the game today that it will be a reflection of how they have been working since we started four-weeks-ago,” said the former Real Madrid Assistant Manager.

“It has been almost perfect because we played really well, the attitude of everyone has been perfect.

“Not just the players who started the game, but the players who come on for the last ten minutes. I am really pleased because all of them showed me today that they want to be part of this project this season.”

Karanka spoke before the game about how he had a clearer idea in his mind of what his starting eleven would be for next week’s opening day fixture against Bristol City but the Spaniard confesses he still has a few difficult decisions to make over the next week.

“It is the headache that I was expecting four-weeks-ago,” said Karanka.

“Now, it is perfect because everybody has been perfect. We haven’t had injuries so far, so it is good but we have to be careful because we haven’t done anything yet.

“It is just pre-season, it is true that today we played really well, but it starts on Saturday. On Saturday we will start to try to win games, to compete in every single game, but we are in the right way.”

The strength of Forest’s attacking options was clear to see against Bournemouth with several summer signings impressing in the forward areas. Karanka says his side have an “attacking mentality” but was quick to reinforce the idea that the real work starts next weekend.

“Everybody now has the attacking mentality, the full backs are running into the box. The quality we have up front everybody knows so it’s [time] to keep growing, keep working because we are still in July and we will have to be in this position in May.”