English Premier League outfit Nottingham Forest grabbed a surprise win against Brighton on Wednesday night, but they're not out of the woods yet. They sit just one point off the relegation places and still need to play Brentford, Chelsea, and Arsenal in their remaining games.
They have the squad to do it, with Super Eagles strikers Emmanuel Dennis and Taiwo Awoniyi capable of providing goals. The Nigeria national football team duo were part of the 30 players signed by Nottingham Forest in the 2022/23 summer and winter transfer windows.
However, Dennis and Awoniyi haven't been utilised to their potential and may seek a move away from Nottingham Forest should the club be relegated to the EFL Championship. The Nigeria national football team stars have incredible potential, but their season has been disappointing, to say the least.
Evaluating Awoniyi and Dennis' seasons
Taiwo Awoniyi is Nottingham Forest's club record signing. He joined the Tricky Trees for £17.5 million on a five-year deal after two brilliant years with Union Berlin in the German Bundesliga.
Liverpool initially signed up following an excellent outing with the Under-17 Golden Eaglets in the 2015 Under-17 World Cup, which the Super Eagles won. He shone alongside current Napoli frontman Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City, two important Nigeria national football team players.
However, the Merseyside club never gave him much chance to prove himself and sent him on several loans to other European clubs.
After impressing with Union Berlin, he became one of the hottest strikers in the world, with many looking for his signature. He featured for Nigeria at the last AFCON and will expect a place in the Super Eagles squad for AFCON 2023.
Awoniyi chose Forest in a development that raised eyebrows in Nigeria football news and disappointed many Super Eagles fans. However, Awoniyi believed it was the best move for his career.
Emmanuel Dennis shone for Watford in the 2021/22 season in the Premier League. Coming from the Belgian Jupiler Pro League, he adapted brilliantly to English football and was the standout player in an otherwise disappointing campaign for the Hornets.
Like Awoniyi, Dennis also featured for Nigeria at the last AFCON and will fancy his chances for a call-up ahead of AFCON 2023.
That said, both players have been unable to handle the task they have been handed at Nottingham Forest. In Awoniyi's case, it is more about his fitness than his ability, whereas, in Dennis' case, it is more about his form.
His form has tanked, and he is now a squad rotation player who gets minutes that the manager gives to bench players when he wants to rest vital players.
Emmanuel Dennis is the only player to successfully dribble past Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the Premier League this season (Man Utd 3-0 Nottingham Forest).
Since then, AWB has played 11 consecutive PL games without any opponent managing to do it. 🕷 pic.twitter.com/6hlGXroxTw
— Squawka (@Squawka) April 23, 2023
A tally of four goals and one assist in 22 appearances for Awoniyi is not becoming for a man who is the record signing of a club, despite losing ample time to fitness issues. Emmanuel Dennis is not too far from his total, as he has two goals and two assists in the Premier League from 18 appearances.
These stats will impress no one if the Tricky Trees fail to survive the drop.
Can Awoniyi and Dennis remain in the Premier League?
Dennis' first season saw him courted by several mid-table sides, including West Ham United and Aston Villa. His abilities have not dwindled, but his output has.
This could lead to him being glossed over in the summer by the mid-table sides who were once interested in him. Awoniyi, on the other hand, will be supported by recency bias as his performances have shown that he can thrive in favourable environments and under solid management.
Taiwo Awoniyi @taiwoawoniyi18 provides an assist as Nottingham Forest pick up an important victory in their fight against relegation.#NFOBHA #Awoniyi #PL #EaglesTracker 🦅🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/MpBcPSfWzM
— Home of Nigerian Football (@EaglesTrackerNG) April 26, 2023
Both players are capable of getting Premier League contracts. However, Awoniyi is the likeliest, which means that Dennis could play in the EFL Championship next season if Forest fails to survive the drop.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago