Boss Stuart Gray is backing his defence to keep Owls old boy Matty Fryatt quiet at Hillsborough tomorrow.
Sheffield Wednesday tried to sign Fryatt, who enjoyed a productive loan spell with the Owls last season, hitting four goals in nine appearances, in the summer. However, the 28-year-old striker, who spearheaded Hull City’s attack in the FA Cup final last May, decided to move to the City Ground.
Gray admitted: “We thought we got that one over the line and got Matty through the door. It coincided with Stuart [Pearce] getting the Forest job and Matty living in Derby.
“Stuart worked and gave Matty all his caps at U21 level. He knows him very well so we missed out.
“We know what Matty is capable of. We’ve got to keep him out of the box because he’s a goal-scorer. If we can stop the supply to him, I’m sure we can stop him from scoring.”
“Forest have got knowledge and experience in Matty,” said Gray, who hopes Sam Hutchinson (back) will be passed fit to return to action. “He knows when to drop in and fill in for the midfield.
“They’ve got pace in Britt Assombalonga and Michail Antonio and Stuart’s got Chris Burke so the forward line has changed completely to what we faced at the end of last season. The way we are defending, I’ve got no worries at keeping them out.”
Pearce expects an “aggressive and very direct” style of play from Wednesday.
“It will be our toughest game of the season so far,” he said. “If we can, we want to maintain our unbeaten record.
“Stuart [Gray] is a good friend of mine and Steve Wigley. He has done a fantastic job there. He should be rightly proud of what he has achieved at this moment. But our friendship will die a death on Friday night and probably resume on Monday morning.”
It finished 3-3 the last time the two clubs met in April and Gray has acknowledged: “They’ve got a totally different team from the side who we last played against at the City Ground.
“Stuart has been able to bring in a totally different team. He’s got rid of players and been allowed to strengthen and bring players in. He will delighted with the start they’ve had. They’ve got quality in depth. They’ve got players sat in the stands who would probably come in and do a good job here.
“There seems to be a lot of stability there now. There has been a lot of upheaval in the last few years. Managers have come and gone but I think they’ve got the right man in Stuart who enjoyed pulling on the shirt and the fans enjoyed him pulling on the shirt. He played with a lot of passion and he’s full of pride for Nottingham Forest. I wish them well but that’s after Saturday.”
Wednesday, meanwhile, spent £343,463 on agents fees last season. In the Championship, QPR were the biggest spenders, paying £1.81m.