Nottingham Forest – Leeds combined XI features three January signings who could make debut

Jason Soutar
Nottingham Forest - Leeds combined XI

Including a three-time Champions League winner and United States’ captain, here is a combined XI consisting of Leeds United and Nottingham Forest players.


Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas (Nottingham Forest)
Signed on deadline day from Paris Saint-Germain, Keylor Navas comes to Nottingham a three-time Champions League winner in dire need of some minutes. I really like Ilian Meslier, but this was an easy choice to make, even if Navas has barely played this season.

Dean Henderson vs Meslier would have been an interesting debate…


Right-back: Serge Aurier (Nottingham Forest)
Only one Forest player in this side was at the club this time last year, and Serge Aurier is not that guy. You will find out who a little later on.

The competition at right-back is pretty equal. The standard isn’t great, but it was a tough choice between the Ivorian, his teammate Neco Williams, and Rasmus Kristensen.


Centre-back: Felipe (Nottingham Forest)
Already the second deadline day signing made by Forest in this team, Felipe became the fourth centre-back the Reds have signed since earning promotion shortly before the winter window closed.

Signed for a measly £2m, the 33-year-old joins with tons of experience playing at the top level. He made 113 appearances – including 21 in the Champions League – for Atletico Madrid before swapping the Spanish capital for Nottingham.


Centre-back: Pascal Struijk (Leeds)
A Leeds United player makes the team, finally! Max Wober has looked good since he joined the club, but I am a big fan of Pascal Struijk, who I have given the nod at centre-back, despite being used primarily as a left-back under Jesse Marsch.

The 23-year-old beats lots of names to a starting spot here. The likes of Willy Boly, Moussa Niakhate, Robin Koch and Liam Cooper all miss out.


Left-back: Renan Lodi (Nottingham Forest)
Forest really like players with Champions League experience, don’t they? What better profile to have when you are fighting relegation as a newly-promoted Premier League club?

I could have selected Wober or Struijk here, but have given the 24-year-old Brazilian the nod, despite not showing his best self since moving to the City Ground.


Defensive-midfield: Danilo (Nottingham Forest)
Another Brazilian. Another winter signing. But a player without Champions League experience. Danilo was strongly linked with a move to Arsenal last summer but it looks like Forest had near enough a free run at him in the January transfer window.

Given the fact I have only watched Danilo a couple of times, this inclusion is going off what I have seen other people say about him.


Defensive-midfield: Tyler Adams (Leeds)
A surprisingly excellent signing from Leeds, Tyler Adams has shown great leadership and ability since moving to Yorkshire, filling the huge void left by Kalvin Phillips.

The American revolution is in full force at Elland Road.


Centre-midfield: Weston McKennie (Leeds)
Speaking of which, Marsch managed to bring in McKennie from Juventus last month, in what could be a crucial signing in his side’s bid to avoid relegation.

Westin McKennie, USA, November 2022


Right-wing: Brennan Johnson (Nottingham Forest)
21-year-old Brennan Johnson is gradually growing into life in the Premier League after a slow start. With Forest rising up the table, Johnson has scored two and assisted two in his past four league appearances, which actually means he has contributed to all of his side’s previous four goals.

Johnson was part of Forest’s promotion push, unlike nearly every player he has played with this season.


Striker: Rodrigo (Leeds)
Spain international Rodrigo is actually ruled out for the match on Sunday, but I have included him here. In previous combined XI articles I have opted against including suspended and injured players, but have now decided I will start doing just that. Deal with it.

Rodrigo has been brilliant this season after a stuttering start to life at Elland Road. In 18 Premier League matches this term, he has 10 goals. What a shame he will miss two months of action. Leeds will hopefully it is not a fatal injury for their survival hopes.


Left-wing: Wilfried Gnonto (Leeds)
Wilfried Gnonto has been a joy to watch since he joined Leeds. The Italian forward is quick, direct, tricky and a pretty good finisher.

I get the impression he will not be at Leeds for too long…


Manager: Steve Cooper (Nottingham Forest)
He turned Forest’s season around last term and guided them to a semi-final berth in this season’s Carabao Cup.

Steve Cooper is doing a superb job and people don’t give him enough credit. He has to be bloody good with names as well, considering the amount of transfer activity going on at the City Ground. For dealing with that alone, he gets the nod over Marsch.