BRIAN SCIARETTA - Thursday, April 21, 2011
As the English Championship enters into its last four rounds of games, Nottingham Forest will receive a much needed boost with the expected return of US international forward Robbie Findley.
Findley, 25, signed a two and a half year contract with Nottingham Forest in January and had his UK work permit approved a few weeks later. However before he could even play a game for Nottingham Forest, the speedy forward tore a thigh muscle in a practice.
At first it was expected that Findley would miss the remainder of the season but his recovery has gone surprisingly well in recent weeks and the Phoenix, Arizona native is now back in full training.
"It's been about 11 and a half weeks now but I am excited to be back in full training and being back out on the field," Findley told YA. "It wasn't easy to move over to a new country and then getting injured in my first practice. It was tough but I was able to get through it and I am excited to hopefully try to make a run at it here at the end of the season."
"I feel like this has been the right step for me," he added. "I've always wanted to give myself a chance to play overseas. I am very excited to be here."
Findley is optimistic that his long awaited debut for Nottingham Forest could come very soon. The club has two games in quick succession starting with a home game on Friday against Leicester City then followed by a trip three days later to Bristol City. Findley is hopeful in seeing the field in one of these games.
"Everything has gone well so far in terms of practice," Findley discussed. "I'm feeling really good and if that continues hopefully I'll be available for the upcoming game on Friday and for rest of the games coming up."
Findley will not have much time to learn as Nottingham Forest are currently in the middle of a fierce fight for promotion to the English Premier League. At the moment they sit in seventh place and trail sixth place Leeds United by only two points for the final playoff spot.
While the thought of being promoted to one the biggest leagues in the world could serve as a distraction, Findley maintains that the mood around the club is to simplify their focus and just concentrate on the next game.
"I think it's come down to the time where you just have to take each game at a time," Findley explained. "You don't have the time to sit back and think about it. After a win or a loss, you got to get up and just think about the next game. I think that for us to give ourselves a good chance we got to get some results in the next few games. It's not going to be easy but everyone is up for the challenge. I'm look forward to it."
During his time rehabbing from his injury, The former Real Salt Lake player has been encouraged by Nottingham Forest's head coach Billy Davies who brought him in with the intention to be a key part of his team. As Findley has inched closer to his return, Davies has publicly insisted that he would be a major boost for his club's offense during the stretch run.
Findley has enjoyed training under Davies and he enjoys his coach's approach to the game. He now looks forward to making the transition from training to playing in important games.
"It's been really good and I've liked it since I got here," Findley said of Nottingham Forest's environment under Davies. "The coaching staff as a whole I think is really, really good. I get along with all the players and there is good communication. Billy Davies is really hands on. I think it's a big plus when you get a coach that is out there running the training sessions. It just feels to good to finally get back on the field and get the full effect of it all."
Findley arrived in England in January after playing the previous four seasons with Real Salt Lake who, during that time, grew into one of the best clubs in the history of the young league. He still keeps track of his former team and enjoyed playing in a successful environment during those years.
"You can see they're doing well," he said of Real Salt Lake. "You can just see how well things are run there. The owner takes really good care of the team. The coaching staff is top notch. You got a lot of players that are willing to do whatever it takes to be winners. When you got a group like that, it's really hard to be beaten."
After winning the MLS Cup in 2009, Findley was able to play with Real Salt Lake in the 2010/2011 CONCACAF Championship League. When he signed with Nottingham Forest in January, he left Real Salt Lake in the middle of their Champions League campaign.
Real Salt Lake has continued to play well since Findley's departure and they are currently in the midst of the two-legged series in the Champions League Finals against Monterrey with the score tied at 2-2 after the first leg. Findley remains very supportive of his former teammates and he is quick to pass on his words of encouragement as they play next week for the title and a chance to go to the FIFA Club World Cup.
"They've kept the core together and there's a good chemistry," he pointed out. "They've got a really good thing going there and they'll be good for awhile. They've got a huge game coming up for the [CONCACAF] Championship and I wish them the best."
In addition to the challenges that lie ahead at Nottingham Forest over the next few weeks, Findley also has an eye on the US national team. While he knows that his recent injury may have set him back, he holds out hope that strong play in the next several games could once again catch the attention of US head coach Bob Bradley as he puts together his roster for this summer's Gold Cup.
"What I do over here will give me a shot to be on that Gold Cup team in June," Findley concluded. "It's always a goal of mine to try to get to the national team."
Findley and Nottingham Forest will look keep their promotion hopes alive and move into the top six of the Championship standings when they host Leicester City.