Football: Bassett expects Forest to fire

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The Independent Online
The Nottingham Forest manager Dave Bassett is confident that his side's first setback of the season will be only a minor reverse in their quest for an immediate return to the Premiership.

Forest lost the last remaining 100 per-cent record in the country in midweek when their former manager, Frank Clark, returned with his Manchester City side and achieved an unexpected 3-1 win at the City Ground. But Bassett, who turned 53 on Thursday, believes that result will be quickly forgotten when today's trip to Swindon gets under way at the County Ground.

"I am sure we'll get the right reaction from the players," Bassett said. "I'm not too worried because City clearly came to us with a game plan and on the night it worked. But we realised we were not as positive as we had been and since Wednesday we have trained well, had a little chat and I'm sure the players will respond against Swindon."

Forest are to make special arrangements to make sure their top striker Pierre van Hooijdonk is back in the country in time to figure in the game. The former Celtic man was expected to be on the bench when Holland faced Turkey in a World Cup qualifier last night. Bassett revealed: "We're having him picked up at the airport and taken to the team hotel on Sunday morning. It's worth going to some trouble to have him available."

Scott Leitch and Mark Seagraves are both doubtful for Swindon. Leitch limped off with an ankle injury during the defeat at Ipswich in midweek while Seagraves is struggling with an ankle injury. Darren Bullock and Alex Smith are likely to deputise but the Swindon manager, Steve McMahon, is still without four long-term injury victims.

Wolves will follow in Forest's footsteps by pulling out all the stops to get their international striker ready for the trip to take on Oxford United at the Manor Ground today. Mixu Paatelainen is hoping to be available despite having to fly back to Heathrow from Switzerland this morning following international duty with Finland.

Paatelainen's return could be vital as manager Mark McGhee's major doubt surrounds the availability of Don Goodman, who is struggling to recover from a damaged Achilles tendon. The former Sunderland striker was forced off when the problem flared up during the 1-1 midweek draw with Port Vale and the Irish youngster Glen Crowe could be called in to start his first game of the season, after deputising for Goodman on Wednesday.

Oxford also have their fair share of injury problems - their manager Denis Smith has major worries over four key players, with the latest victims being the midfielders David Smith and Stuart Massey, the defender Darren Purse and the striker Nicky Banger.

"Everyone has gone on about Wolves' injury problems - but I have had to use 23 different players already this season," Smith said. "Unlike Wolves I don't really have 23 players - but I've had to find them from somewhere because of all our injuries."

Newcomers Bury take on Tranmere Rovers at Gigg Lane looking for their second victory of the season. The Tranmere captain John McGreal, who missed the 3-0 home defeat by Birmingham, looks set to return in defence after recovering from a knee injury.

West Bromwich entertain Reading at The Hawthorns, with their striker Andy Hunt struggling for fitness after suffering a blow in the face against Stoke. Albion are already depleted in attack as Lee Hughes is out with an ankle injury and Paul Peschisolido and Kevin Kilbane are away on international duty.