Nottingham Forest opinion: Hutton could add a lot of depth and experience
According to the Sun, Nottingham Forest have been credited with an interest in free agent Alan Hutton, with the report claiming that Martin O’Neill’s side are on the verge of signing the 34-year-old full-back.
The Sun claims that Forest are likely to face stiff competition from Championship strugglers Wigan Athletic in their pursuit of the veteran but the City Ground outfit are still the frontrunners for his signature.
Hutton is currently without a club following his release from Aston Villa at the end of the last month.
The 34-year-old played a key role for Dean Smith’s side in the Championship last season, as the Lions made it made to the Premier League but he was overlooked for the playoffs and not offered a new deal thereafter.
The full-back made a total of 34 appearances for Villa in all competitions this past season, scoring twice in the process.
Hutton was an ever-present at the back for large quarters of the previous campaign, with manager Dean Smith often rotating the veteran between right-back and left-back roles to cover for the injury absence of Neil Taylor.
He was used largely as a squad rotation player during his stint at North London, although Hutton did feature for the Lilywhites in their UEFA Champions League campaign in the 2010-11 season.
However, a move to Aston Villa in 2011 allowed him to carve out a reputation for himself in the Premier League with plenty of regular minutes and Hutton went on to establish himself as a firm fan favourite at the Villa Park.
Hutton registered a total of 202 appearances for the Lions in all competitions before being deemed surplus to demands but he is not expected to be short of suitors this summer, with such a wealth of experience under his belt.
To put things into perspective, Forest need to bring in some fresh faces this summer in a bid to reignite their surge for promotion in the Championship next term and Alan Hutton could add a lot of valuable know-how to the club’s ranks.
Martin O’Neill’s side looked pretty solid defensively last season, and while attacking reinforcements are likely to be a priority for the manager this summer, signing Hutton on a free transfer won’t do Forest much harm.
Primarily a right-back by trade, Hutton’s versatility to play on either side of the backline with equal effectiveness, coupled with his well-rounded attacking and defensive attributes and a bagful of top-level experience should prompt Forest to make a move for him.
The 34-year-old might well be past his prime but he showed last season that he is still more than capable of making an impression at the Championship level.
Forest are yet to finalise a deal for West Ham loanee Sam Byram, and although they have the likes of Tendayi Darikwa and Saidy Janko as options on the right flank, someone like Hutton could add that little bit more depth to their ranks, whilst also increasing competition for places.
Moreover, O’Neill could also afford to look at Hutton as cover for the likes of Jack Robinson and Ben Osborn down the left-hand side of the pitch, meaning that the 34-year-old’s versatility might as well make him a useful squad player at the City Ground next season.
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Keeping that in mind, it certainly won’t be a bad idea for Forest to snap up the 34-year-old for free this summer, as the presence of an experienced customer like him might go a long way towards helping them in their bid for promotion next term.