Irish international to spark a summer tug-o-war between two big English clubs

The intense pre-season speculation is well underway in the Championship, with some big-name players linked with moves to clubs hoping to boost their promotion credentials next season. One side likely to be fighting for a top six spot are two-time European Cup Winners Nottingham Forest. They had a busy summer in 2018, bringing in the likes of record signing Joao Carvalho and highly rated Gil Dias, but they flattered to deceive.

Manager Aitor Karanka paid for some poor results with his job and he was swiftly replaced by Martin O’Neill. The Irishman tasted success with Forest as a player and will be hoping to do the same as a manager.

He’s thought to be interested in taking another Irishman to Forest to replace Joe Lolley, should the wide man leave. Callum O’Dowda has been mentioned as a natural replacement for Lolley and would allegedly be open to a move to the City Ground should it arrive. 

The Irish international is currently with Bristol City, who usually exceed expectations compared to the heavy spenders around them. They are a side who could provide potential value in the Championship betting top six outright markets, as they may finally break into the play-offs as they continue their gradual rise up the table. However, Forest are showing signs of ambition which may attract O’Dowda.

He had been previously linked with Leeds United and as a talented and exciting winger, he’s going to be wanting to make the move to a club that has as strong a chance as possible of achieving promotion. If Forest and Leeds do go into battle for the 24-year-old, he’s going to have a big choice to make. O’Neill is certainly an interesting prospect with Forest and O’Dowda has experience of him from the international scene. That link could be crucial in tempting him to the East Midlands.

O’Dowda – who made 35 outings for Bristol City last season and contributed five goals – might see Leeds United as a better prospect for promotion. He had been mooted as a possible alternative to Daniel James in the wake of Samu Saiz leaving Elland Road on loan, but a move never came to fruition. 

It’s a crucial move for the Kidlington-born wide man. He’s quick, agile and likes to beat a man and deliver a cross. In the Leeds set up, a 4-1-4-1, he could operate on the flank or in one of the inside forward positions. With Forest, it would be a little less straightforward. O’Neill favoured a 4-4-2 towards the end of the season, making O’Dowda an out and out winger but he could play on the left on a 4-3-3 which they’ve also tried.

It’s likely the 15-cap wide man is going to be under immense pressure to make a big move this summer and both suitors offer him different environments and challenges. Whichever he decides to join will doubtless be acquiring a talented winger with lots to offer.

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