Coles hails defensive unity

Nottingham Forest have shown an interest in Stevenage’s head of

recruitment Leon Hunter, according to the npower League One


Reports emerged last week that Forest’s Kuwaiti owners, the

Al-Hasawi family, were weighing up a move to bring Hunter to the

City Ground as director of football.

Forest have a gap in their hierarchy after the Al-Hasawis

controversially sacked long-serving chief executive Mark Arthur and

dismissed Reds legend Frank Clark from his ambassadorial role last


Chief scout Keith Burt was also given the boot along with Arthur

and Clark.

Stevenage chairman Phil Wallace told the Comet: “They (Forest)

are not the first club to show an interest in him and I doubt

they’ll be the last since he’s a talented young man with an

extensive knowledge of British and overseas players and agents.

“However, he’s loving the role at Stevenage and has a high level

of autonomy and responsibility so I don’t think it will be that

easy for him to be enticed away.

“However, as with professional players, if any individual

working in football has the chance to move to the highest level,

I’m sure he or she will do so.”

McGrath, club captain at Albion, has been unable to force his

way back into the Brewers’ starting line-up following a five-month

absence with a foot injury.

The 32-year-old will remain with the Minstermen until March 11

and is reunited with manager Gary Mills, who he played under at


Despite being allowed to leave the Pirelli Stadium, Burton boss

Gary Rowett insists McGrath remains part of his plans as the team

chase promotion from League Two.

He said: “I’ve done this reluctantly, in a way, because

characters like Macca are the sort of people I want around the


“I had hoped that I would be able to find him a place back in

the side before now but, since he had that bad injury, the form of

Lee Bell and Robbie Weir in the middle has been too good to


“I know John is desperate to play and, with him going to York,

he will now have a month of League Two football.

“I hope that means that we will get an even more match-fit Macca

coming back to us later in the season.”

The turmoil which surrounded the Govan club a year ago on

Thursday after it lapsed into administration, subsequently followed

by liquidation, led to an exodus of players.

The Northern Ireland midfielder, 28, moved last summer to

Southampton who reportedly paid Rangers ‘newco’ ?800,000 for


Davis explained his decision to leave his boyhood heroes while

leaving the door open to the possibility of going back at some

point in his career.

He told the Daily Record: “We were professional sportsmen and on

the day it was announced Rangers were going into administration it

was just a series of words to us until we absorbed the

ramifications of what had taken place.

“I had just signed a new, five-year contract with the club and

it had always been my intention to honour that agreement in full

and devote the largest part of my career to the team I considered

to be one of the biggest names in world football.

“I loved the club and the fans but I had to take a decision

which was best for me, my family and the remainder of my


“There was so much uncertainty, so I was delighted Southampton

made an offer that was acceptable and the club got money that they

needed to keep going.

“It was the toughest decision of my life when I left for another


“I gave the team 100% every time I went out on to the park for


“If everything goes to the plan I have in my head I’d like to

come back and play for the club again before my career ends.

“I know there are different opinions about the players who left

after administration but I still follow Rangers and they continue

to mean a lot to me.”

A 2-1 defeat at struggling Aston Villa on Sunday ensured it is

three months since West Ham last picked up three points away from

home and Sam Allardyce’s side have won only two of their last 11

Premier League games.

That run has seen the Hammers slip to 11th in the table and just

seven points outside the bottom three, sparking fears the club

could be dragged into the relegation battle.

However, with the squad heading to Dubai for a short training

break, Nolan believes West Ham are capable of gaining enough points

in the coming weeks to stay in the top flight.

“We’ve got to keep believing and keep putting in performances

like that,” Nolan told the club’s official website. “If we cut out

the errors we’ll be fine.

“If we keep producing the form we’re showing, and what I mean by

that is that the performance on Sunday was good, and keep producing

the amount of chances we’re making, I’m sure it’s going to turn for


“We’ve got two weeks between matches and when you lose a game

you want to get back out there as soon as possible. But it does

give us the chance to relax a bit this week and look at what we’ve

done this season and what we’ve got to do between now and the end

of the season.

“By the time the Tottenham game comes around we’ll be ready and

raring to go for a home local derby. We’ll be looking forward to


The Grecians have only conceded one goal from open play in 2013

and kept their second consecutive clean sheet in the 3-0 win at

Morecambe on Saturday.

Coles, along with central-defensive partner Pat Baldwin,

goalkeeper Artur Krysiak and left-back Craig Woodman, have barely

missed a game this season while Steve Tully and Kevin Amankwaah

have both had spells at right-back.

“It does help when you have consistency, it really makes a

difference to me,” Coles said. “Defensively as a team we are doing

all right. It is not just the back four, it has been the whole


“Woody has been a consistent figure, and there’s been myself and

Pat with the right-back position shared a bit. Kev Amankwaah has

come in for the last two games and he has been outstanding.

“Whichever right-back we have in we know we have a good

understanding among the back four with Artur behind us. Touch wood

we seem to be making less mistakes as well.”

The City squad have been unable to make the most of their Cat

& Fiddle training ground in recent weeks due to flooding and

the freezing temperatures, and Coles is glad the boggy pitches are

beginning to dry out.

“It has been really difficult for Tis and the team to sort out

sessions for us because everything is too wet and the astro can be

too hard,” he added.

“It is a bit of a pain but hopefully the worst weather is behind

us and we can have a little bit more consistency with