FORMER Derry City winger, Stephen McLaughlin insists he wants to stay at Nottingham Forest for the remainder of the current season and try force his way into manager, Stuart Pearce’s plans.
The 24 year-old Inishowen man spent a successful loan spell at League One side, Notts County for the past three months, climbing to the top of the club’s ‘goalscoring assist’ charts with seven from 16 games.
County boss, Shaun Derry has been generous in his praise of McLaughlin and is determined to re-sign the Isle of Doagh native now that the January Transfer Window has opened.
However, McLaughlin is hoping he can take advantage of Forest’s dismal run of form in the hectic New Year schedule to push for a place in the first team squad this month.
The winger’s preference is certainly to remain at the City Ground this year and he’s hoping his time spent on loan at Meadow Lane was enough to impress the Forest boss.
He returned to training with the Forest first team when his three month spell at County came to an end, and he’s hoping he’s done enough to catch the eye of Pearce.
Forest are one of three Championship clubs under a transfer embargo for the rest of the season for not meeting the Football League’s Financial Fair Play Rules, therefore Pearce will be working hard to keep his current squad intact as they cannot spend a transfer or loan fee.
In fact, that embargo could prove fruitful for McLaughlin if Pearce turns his attentions to his fringe players in an attempt to stop a winless run of six games.
Forest take on Rochdale tomorrow (Saturday) in an FA Cup third round tie and McLaughlin is hoping to feature in that fixture.
“It went fairly well for me at Notts County but I’m back at Forest now and that’s the priority,” McLaughlin told the ‘Journal’.
“We’ll see what happens now over the next few weeks.
“Obviously Forest is the number one for me and I want to play for Forest.
“But if the manager decides I should go out on loan again then I’ll do my best in the hope of pressing my way back into the Forest team by impress ing the manager,” he added.
“I did that with County and things went really well for me there, so I’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.”
The Inishowen man excelled during his stint across the River Trent and the importance of his contribution hasn’t gone unrecognised by County boss, Derry.
“What Stephen has delivered for us during his time here has been excellent and I would like to keep him,” Derry insisted.
“The conversations with Forest have already taken place but they have their own agenda to consider.
“They’ve had a loss to Birmingham which will hurt them and their season has tailed off over recent weeks.
“Stuart (Pearce) will want to get his troops back on fire like they were at the start of the season.
“At this moment in time, we are not too sure whether Stephen fits into their jigsaw.”
And while the Co. Donegal man was pleased to hear that he is, once again, a target for Notts County, he’s hoping his upcoming talks with Pearce will lead to a call-up to the first team panel in the near future.
“The standard in League One is okay, there’s a lot of good teams,” noted the player.
“It was a great experience for me and I really enjoyed my time there.
“At the minute though I’m just going to hold out until around January time to see what’s happening and see if the manager needs me in his squad for the rest of the season.
“At this time of the year there’s a lot of games to be played, a lot of players picking up injuries and with the games coming thick and fast, who knows, I might be needed.
“I’ll be hoping to take advantage if I do get called in to do a job.”
McLaughlin rarely gets to travel back home to the Inishowen Peninsula these days but he did manage to get back to the Isle of Doagh for two days to spend with his family on Monday and Tuesday last.
And he spent New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend, Shauna Kelly, in Nottingham as he concentrates all his time on pushing his way into Stuart Pearce’s plans.