Football: Forest worried by yobs and strikers

Glenn Moore on tonight's challenge to the last British club left in Europe
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The Independent Online
Apart from Brian Clough cuffing a few supporters who had invaded the pitch, Nottingham Forest have rarely been associated with crowd trouble. However, they carry the English standard into Europe tonight hoping that their success has not attracted the wrong kind of flag-wavers.

Olympique Lyonnais, their opponents in tonight's Uefa Cup third round second leg, are expected to flout the regulations of the governing body of European football and sell tickets on the day of the match. Although this happened without problems in both Forest's previous European ties, in Malmo and Auxerre, Forest are aware that the risk increases in line with their profile.

"I am concerned," said Frank Clark, the Forest manager. "There might be a few national yobbos who decide to have a day trip and cause a bit of mayhem.

"The club has done everything we can. We have taken names and addresses for each of the 1,000 tickets we have sold. But though Uefa would take that into account if anything happened, the stigma of trouble would still reflect badly upon the club. It certainly would not do English football any good."

Fortunately, the police are yet to be dragged into the wave of strikes which are slowly paralysing France - although they may join in if they continue. Apart from the possibility of the dispute spreading to the airports - and preventing their post-match return tonight - Forest are more worried about their four strikers than France's 8,000.

With Bryan Roy injured, Kevin Campbell ill and Andrea Silenzi still struggling to find form, they are hoping Jason Lee will be fit enough to lead the attack. Lee has missed three games, including the first leg which Forest won 1-0, with a thigh injury. "He has a chance," said Clark last night, "it depends how he reacts to training."

Forest's progress has been characterised by defensive solidity - they have conceded two goals in five games - but Clark emphasised: "We are looking to score. If we get one they will have to score three and I cannot see them doing that."

Clark will not reveal his hand, but Silenzi is only likely to play if Lee is unfit. Either Paul McGregor, who scored the first-leg winner, or Stephen Howe (who created it) may then be entrusted with the linking role. Neither has made half a dozen full appearances, but Clark said he was confident they could handle the occasion.

The French will be without Florent Laville, who is suspended after being dismissed at the City Ground. Eric Assadourian is expected to return to partner the impressive youngster Florian Maurice in attack.

Another tight match is envisaged. "I would like us to be entertaining and expansive, but we will we do whatever is required," Clark added. "The next round is not until March, so if we get through we can put it on the back burner for a few months knowing it is something to look forward to."

If they do not, the European competitions will be devoid of British interest until August...