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Nottingham Forest in great shape ahead of Championship play-offs – Steve Cooper

Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest sealed fourth place in the Championship (Scott Wilson/PA)
Steve Cooper’s Nottingham Forest sealed fourth place in the Championship (Scott Wilson/PA)

Manager Steve Cooper insists Nottingham Forest are “in great shape” after the 1-1 draw at Hull teed up a Sky Bet Championship play-off clash with Sheffield United.

Huddersfield’s victory at home to Bristol City means fourth-placed Forest must now return to Yorkshire next Saturday.

Cooper said: “We go into the play-offs feeling really good about ourselves.

“We are looking forward to it. We wanted to finish third, but to come from bottom of the league to fourth place is great.

“We look forward to the game – two big stadiums, two big clubs and two passionate groups of supporters.

“You’ve got to get excited about it. We gave automatic (promotion) a really good go and, by going for that, we secured a play-off place with maybe three or four games to go.

“It’s an unbelievable achievement and it shows how good these guys have been.

“I’m disappointed not to win – that’s just me – but I’m naturally not naive or narrow-minded. I know that we go into the play-offs in great shape.”

Cooper made seven changes to the side that lost at Bournemouth earlier this week and it looked to have worked when substitute Brennan Johnson scored from the penalty spot in stoppage time.

But Hull were good value for a point and deservedly scored two minutes later when Lewie Coyle’s firm cross from the right found the back of the net.

Cooper said: “The game was just an OK one. We didn’t show enough threat or creativity in the final third – we just didn’t show enough on the day.

“We needed to step up that part of the game and change the rhythm and variety of the attack.

“The game opened up. We get the breakthrough and take it. But then the bigger picture is, we were able to change the team.

“It’s not a disaster, fourth place, where we’ve been.

“We weren’t thinking about who we might play in the play-offs – it doesn’t matter who you play. It’s a challenge for everybody.

“We’re really happy that we are preparing for the play-offs instead of going on our holidays.

“We go into the next phase with even more motivation to do well.

“Succeeding in life is about taking the opportunity and seizing the moment.”

Counterpart Shota Arveladze was happy for Hull’s supporters that his players finished with a flourish.

He said: “The last five minutes was crazy, but I think the whole 90 minutes was a good game with chances for both sides.

“They are a good team, but we were organised, had our chances and didn’t give much away.

“Generally, it was a good game and, for the supporters, it was nice for us to score a late goal.

“The club tries to find the best way to get supporters back and even though we didn’t have a great run at home, we have brought them something at the end.

“They can see the boys fighting for every point and doing the best that they can.”

Arveladze confirmed that Tom Huddlestone – a fine servant for the club in two spells – would not be at Hull next season.

He said: “They (the fans) gave him a big applause. It’s not (an) easy (decision) to decide – he’s such a huge a player – as he’s been a great professional.”

The future of star forward Keane Lewis-Potter is, however, still in limbo.

Arveladze added: “That’s the most difficult question to ask. The chairman wants him. The coach – crazy about him.

“But then some offers you cannot just say, ‘No’, or “Yes’. It’s about his future.

“We’ll try to offer him the best we can for his future. It’s about financial and it’s also about his progress.”

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