Pearce calls on a Clough for help at Forest

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The Independent Online
Stuart Pearce yesterday took over as caretaker manager of Nottingham Forest in succession to Frank Clark, who resigned on Thursday. His first move was to re-sign his former England colleague Nigel Clough on loan from Manchester City with a view to a permanent pounds 700,000 transfer.

Pearce held a team meeting yesterday morning after training, at which he spelt out what he feels is required to halt a run of 16 matches without a win since the opening League match of the season.

Pearce said: "I've talked to the players and told them what I feel is needed from professional sportsmen. How they react I'll only find out on match days and on the training pitch.

"It is very important I get the backing of the team. I think I'll have the backing of the fans and the board of directors, but the players are the ones who've got to turn the situation around.

"I think they are a little nervous of me at present. They're a bit tentative in terms of what to say to me and what the situation is with me at present. But I am sure we will establish some middle ground between us."

Pearce is under no illusions as to the uphill nature of the task ahead: "It's the biggest challenge of my career and when you are down the bottom of the table it has to be the toughest job. It would be nice to face the job with years of experience of what it entails, but that's not the case."

Pearce will review his position in mid-January, when he has had a chance to decide whether he can combine managing with playing - and he is keen not to jeopardise his England prospects.

The Leicester manager and former Forest favourite Martin O'Neill has ruled himself out of contention should Pearce not to take on the post permanently. He said: "Let me say that people will have to put up with me at Leicester City for the next 18 months of my contract. I said the day I signed my contract at Leicester that I would not be walking out on the club before my contract runs out."

Clough has gone back to the City Ground after being left out of City's line-up for the past month. He is not match-fit so is unlikely to come into contention to face Arsenal today.

Meanwhile, the consortium led by the local businessman Sandy Anderson, the recommended choice of the current board of directors, is set to take over at Forest in the new year. Anderson will now have a clear run in his battle to take charge after the rival consortium headed by Monte Carlo businessman Lawrie Lewis opted to pull out.

Australia's new national coach, Terry Venables, yesterday named a home- based squad for his first three matches in charge. The former England manager, who officially takes over when he arrives in Australia on 3 January, will use a four-nations series with games in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney from 18-26 January to assess locally-based players prior to the World Cup qualifiers.

The West Ham striker Iain Dowie is likely to be out of action for 12 weeks after breaking an ankle against Stockport on Wednesday night. Dowie was injured when he fell awkwardly in a challenge with Mike Flynn.

The Football Association yesterday confirmed that the Liverpool defender Neil Ruddock has been charged with bringing the game into disrepute over his attack on the Tottenham chairman, Alan Sugar, in a Sunday newspaper article. Ruddock is unlikely to receive any support from his club, who have already apologised to Sugar.

Manchester United striker Andy Cole will make his comeback in Monday's reserve game against Derby at Bury. The pounds 7m former Newcastle player has been out of action since breaking both shins during a reserve game at Liverpool on 5 October.

West Brom flotation, page 16