Change in priorities is bringing the best out of Chris Cohen at Nottingham Forest
HE may not quite have made the transition from poacher to gamekeeper, but Chris Cohen's outlook on life has certainly changed.
Following the victory over Ipswich in midweek, the long-serving player admitted he was fired up in the dressing room.
His motivation was not just three points gained from a tough win, but also the fact that, for a third game in a row, Forest had not conceded a goal.
Because, for Cohen, clean sheets are now something special to celebrate.
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So often one of the attacking influences in midfield, Cohen has recently found himself part of the back four, playing the last five matches under Billy Davies at left back.
And he admits that he has noticed a subtle change in his own attitude.
"I have been joking with the lads about that," said Cohen.
"Previously I was the kind of player who got all excited when I got an assist or helped somebody to get a goal.
"Now I am coming back into the dressing room buzzing because we have kept a clean sheet; I am celebrating the fact that the opposition haven't scored.
"It is great being part of a back four that has kept a clean sheet. It is not new for me, but it is something I am getting used to."
Cohen has previously not enjoyed having his attacking instincts stifled, by being asked to play in defence.
But, in Forest's current 4-1-3-2 approach, he and right-back Gonzalo Jara are both given the freedom to get forward and add width to the attack.
And Cohen admitted: "With the formation we play, I am getting as much of the ball now as I did when I was playing in midfield. I might even be getting a few more touches.
"The formation is helping me to be an attacking full back. I enjoy that.
"The manager does like myself and Gonzo to get forward as much as possible. We do have that freedom.
"The manager wants to play attacking football and he does allow us to get forward.
"He is not afraid to leave us one v one at the back, because he expects us to be better than our opponent.
"We have quality defenders, when you look at Collins, Halford, Ward, Jamaal, Hutch... we know we can leave them to defend, even two v two, if we want to push forward.
"We know they will be okay in the same way as we were when we had Wes Morgan and Kelvin Wilson at the back or Wes and Chambo.
"It is enjoyable to be part of it."
Forest's attacking instincts were not always evident in their last outing, as they struggled to break down an Ipswich side that, following two red cards, found themselves with only nine men for the final 20 minutes at the City Ground.
But, while they were not always at their best, just as they had done at Hillsborough, Forest found the character to grind out the win, with Lewis McGugan coming off the bench to net the only goal.
"It was good to see another side of our game," said Cohen. "The manager said that himself on Saturday. It would have summed up our season perfectly on Saturday, if we had not won.
"We had produced such a good 45 minutes – but at other stages in the season we might have gone on to lose the game or draw it.
"We showed the fighting quality that you need in this division to take more points than we had in the past.
"We know it is not just about playing pretty football.
"We are not just going to go and play good football and beat teams easily. That's been proven in the last two games. We played well against Wednesday, in both halves – we just had to show different sides of our character.
"On Tuesday, we were not at the races, but winning the game was the most important thing. You look back on the fact that we kept a clean sheet, which shows that the team was working hard, from the strikers and the midfield to the back four.
"Clean sheets are important – because we then got the bit of luck we needed when it came to getting the goal we needed to win the game."
Cohen hopes Forest can raise their game against struggling Wolves today – and get back to the kind of performances they produced against Bolton, Huddersfield and Charlton.
And he warns that they will need to against a Wolves side he believes are better than their league position might suggest.
"We want to put in a good performance. We got a victory on Tuesday, but it was not a particularly good performance against nine men," he said. "We got the points, but we want to put on a good show today.
"Our toughest games have been the ones against opposition sides who have tried to nullify our game.
"Ipswich caught us on a bad day, no question. But ten men can be hard to break down. Even nine men can be.
"We often do ten versus eight sessions in training and, if they do things right, they can make sure that you cannot break them down.
"With the run of results we have had, people will look at the Wolves game and believe that we will win it. We will expect to win it ourselves.
"But you look at Wolves on paper and they are one of the better teams. It was the same with Bolton, who came here recently. They are a good team on paper, when you look at the players they have. It will be a tough game if they play to their best. They would be a match for anyone."
But, if Forest can produce their best, the same is certainly true. And, if Cohen is celebrating another clean sheet at the final whistle, there is a good chance that Forest will also have collected another three points.