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Up And Down For Clingan

Up And Down For Clingan

It has been a very good year in the life of Sammy Clingan.

After the 22-year-old's move to the City Ground in January, he went on to establish himself as an international player in the summer - and in December he sits six points clear at the top of League One with Nottingham Forest.

Yes, the abridged version of Clingan's 2006 makes impressive reading.

But the popular Irishman could tell you a different story.

The midfielder could tell tales of a turbulent 12 months, which have required every ounce of his bubbly character to help him get through.

Clingan was there during the darkest period of the club's recent history.

He was at Boundary Park on a cold February night when a 3-0 defeat to Oldham left Forest closer to the relegation zone than promotion.

It was the nadir of Gary Megson's tenure and the manager chose to walk rather than be pushed - leaving a fractious dressing room, disillusioned supporters and depressed club in his wake.

Clingan had been at the club for less than a month.

'It was tough when I first came,' he said. 'The team weren't doing well. Away from home we weren't getting results and then Gary Megson went.

'I took it hard because he'd only just brought me in and I didn't get the chance to work with him. But Frank Barlow and Charlie (Ian) McParland did really well.

'I was sort of playing out of position, but it was an experience and good to finish off the season on a high.'

For his part in Forest's late surge last season he earned a call-up to the Northern Ireland squad and has since become an integral member of Lawrie Sanchez's bid to qualify for Euro 2008.

But the pendulum swung again for him at the start of this campaign, when, with a new manager at the helm, he struggled to find his form.

With James Perch becoming an increasingly influential figure in the centre of midfield, Clingan failed to establish himself under Colin Calderwood.

Gary Holt's knee surgery has since given him the chance to forge a partnership with Perch that has seen Forest stretch clear at the top of the table. But Clingan admits his indifferent form at the start of the season was a concern.

'I wasn't keeping the ball as well as I should have,' he said.

'Sometimes you look at the game and analyse your own performance and think 'why haven't I done that?' I try to put my finger on it and put it right for the next game.

'The last month or so I've picked up my form. That's all down to hard work and training.

'I don't know what was going on at the start of the season. I had a good pre-season - I can't put my finger on why I wasn't playing the best. But recently I've been happy with it.'

Much of Clingan's upturn in form has been down to his burgeoning partnership with Perch.

That central midfield tandem have been pivotal in Forest's 11-game unbeaten run since October.

Clingan is expected to return for tonight's trip to Bournemouth after being rested for Sunday's FA Cup tie with Salisbury.

It should see him resume his partnership with Perch, who has helped the Irishman produce his most consistent form since moving to the City Ground.

'James is a good player to play alongside,' he said. 'He has done well in the centre. He has good energy levels and gets up and down the pitch. We complement each other well.

'He's good at defending and attacking. He can get forward as he's proved with a couple of goals this season.

'I sort of try to get the ball from the back and play it forward, but when James holds it, it allows me to get forward as well.'

Goals are the one thing missing from Clingan's game at the moment.

And with Kris Commons, Nicky Southall and Perch all finding the back of the net this season - he knows the pressure is on to chip in with a few himself.

Nottingham Evening Post

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Thursday December 7 2006
Time: 10:55AM

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