We must be in the mix at the right time, says Nottingham Forest's Chris Cohen
CHRIS Cohen says history proves it is vital Nottingham Forest are in the chasing pack of teams come the turn of the year, otherwise they will face a mountain to climb to win promotion.
The Reds are tenth in the Championship on 29 points after 20 games and sit just four points off the play-off places ahead of entertaining Burnley on Saturday.
They have slipped slightly after successive defeats to Ipswich and Hull, following back-to-back wins previously against Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves.
And midfielder Cohen insists they cannot rely on being that one team who rockets up the table late on to claim a play-off place.
Instead, he wants the Reds right in the mix when the club enters 2013, following their last five games of the year against Burnley, Brighton, Watford, Leeds and Crystal Palace.
He said history shows you have to be in a strong position come the turn of the year, as when Forest reached the play-offs in both the 2009/10 and 2010/11 seasons.
In the first one of those, the Reds were third at the turn of the year and finished in the same position, while Newcastle were top and West Brom second – exactly where they finished.
And, the following campaign, Forest went into the new year in fifth place and finished sixth in the final play-off spot, having played 21 games and having 33 points at the turn of the year.
Victory against Burnley on Saturday would put the Reds just one point off that mark after the same amount of games.
In that season, QPR were top, Swansea third and Norwich fifth at the same stage and all won promotion.
Cohen says that proves why it is so important over the next five games to put themselves in a strong position.
He said: "If you look at other seasons, often one team comes out of the pack in the second half of the season but the rest are already there and in the play-offs come January time.
"You have eight teams at the top (come January) who you know will be there or thereabouts and then one team out of the other 16 teams to come out of the pack. You cannot guarantee that to be you so we have to be looking to make sure we are top-ten come the middle of January.
"We have a big enough squad to push on and do some good things in the second half of the season whereas in the past, we have had a tighter squad that maybe got tired a bit towards the end of the season.
"So we know this is an important part of the season for us and one hopefully our big squad can help deal with and share the load and try to put in some good performances."