Sean O'Driscoll considering an increasing number of options as January transfer window approaches for Nottingham Forest
WITH January approaching on the horizon, there is one question that Sean O'Driscoll will face more than any other.
It will come in various guises, with different deliveries and phraseology. But the basic point will remain the same.
Will he be making any further additions when the transfer window opens?
As ever with the Nottingham Forest manager, the answer is not a simple 'yes' or 'no', but a layered, extensive response that takes in his hopes for the future far beyond January – and the ethos on which he has based the season so far.
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O'Driscoll would like to add two or three new faces – but only if they are the right player.
And, if it is not possible, he remains convinced that the squad the club have in place is equipped to achieve their objectives.
"If they (the owners) said to me to carry on with the squad you have got, I am not going to bang on anyone's door and argue otherwise," said O'Driscoll. "The squad we have got is very talented.
"But, if we can bring in two or three – and they are the right two or three – we would not say no.
"The danger is bringing in players just for the sake of it. Mistakes are made in January.
"You are committed to a player for two or three seasons and there is a cost involved in that.
"Do you want to take a player who you can develop, who can be a good player for Forest for the next four or five years?
"Or do you look for a player who is ready now?
"Reading did that with Jason Roberts last season. But he was just the focal point for the way they had of playing already.
"It is unfair to bring in a player if he does not feature in two months.
"We will have an opportunity to bring players in. We have been talking to a lot of people about players. We will see."
Along with speculation over potential transfer targets, there has also been talk that the Al Hasawi family are now more fervent in their desire to see Forest promoted this season.
But O'Driscoll says that his job remains the same, regardless of expectations elsewhere.
"You cannot rebuild a club in the space of a season – but you can build a team that can function in the Championship," he said.
"The club did not need rebuilding, it just needed a focus that people could hang on to, an ideal that people could look at and realise that was what we are after.
"You want that, rather than swapping and changing week after week, year after year, in the search for promotion.
"If promotion means that you sacrifice all the things that stabilise you, that make a football club a football club, then it is a waste of time.
"You are just gambling all the time. Mr Doughty put £100m into the club... so there is no guarantee.
"We want to find a Forest way that people will recognise, that it is easy to bring in players who can do things in the right way within that.
"You want players who are the right price, the right age, who you can identify and say 'this is what the DNA of a Forest players is'.
"That has to carry on no matter what. People can put targets out there, saying that you have to do this or that. But it is out of my hands.
"Whatever happens, you want to leave the club in a better state than it was when you arrived, whether that is after a week, two weeks or ten years.
"If you have that in the back of your mind, you will always do things for the right reasons."
O'Driscoll says it will take more than financial investment alone to secure success – although he does appreciate the backing of the Al Hasawi family.
"Without the new owners' input, the club would be in dire financial straits. It would have to be a club that really cuts its cloth accordingly," he said. "They have not had to do that for a long time.
"I was not here under Nigel Doughty, but he put an awful lot of money into the club, in an attempt to get them into the Premier League.
"It is not just about money. Money helps, but it is also about the things you put in place to help the team perform.
"They are more important than just throwing millions of pounds at things. It is just about getting that balance right."
O'Driscoll admits the hardest part of his job is selecting a team from a squad that has increasing depth, as more and more players return from injury problems.
Both Jermaine Jenas and Sam Hutchinson trained this week, although today's trip to Watford is likely to come too soon.
But Simon Cox will be involved after bouncing back from his ankle injury.
"Simon has trained all week. If the medical staff had given the go ahead for him to be involved last weekend, I would have had no qualms about putting him in," said O'Driscoll.
"Sam Hutchinson is back on the grass, JJ has trained with the squad... people are getting back. We are as strong as we have been for a long time.
"Picking the team is the biggest headache. There are a lot of talented players who are fighting for a place here.
"Sam is just back in training, he is not in contention yet. He would probably say otherwise, he would probably want to play.
"He has a great attitude. He is close, he is not going to need months to get back up to speed.
"The way he has been working with the physios, he will be fine physically. He has a mental hurdle to get over, in terms of perhaps worrying about whether he will break down.
"But he is a confident lad and he is desperate to play."
And, if O'Driscoll can find the right players, then the fight for places at Forest will only increase.