James Garner has been a massive hit at Nottingham Forest.
The young Manchester United loanee enjoyed a successful season while on loan with Steve Cooper’s Reds.
Arguably one of the side’s most important players, Garner’s contributions in the heart of Cooper’s midfield helped propel the side to promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in over two decades.
However, with Garner’s loan only for the 2021-22 season, the Reds, who would have liked to extend the midfielder’s stay by another year, look set to miss out.
Sources close to the newly-promoted club have revealed to us that early discussions over a summer transfer for Southampton’s Will Smallbone have taken place.
Smallbone, 22, would act as a direct replacement for Garner, who will now return to Old Trafford and attempt to force his way into Erik Ten Hag’s first-team plans.
Stretty News understands that Garner’s first-team United future next season depends on Ten Hag’s willingness to include him in his matchday squads.
Failure to give the young defensive midfielder ample experience in and around the first team could result in the 21-year-old sounding out consecutive loan moves. However, early feedback from club sources suggests Ten Hag will use Garner during pre-season before making a final decision on his playing time ahead of next season.
Aware of this and given how late into the transfer window Garner’s immediate future will be decided, Forest now feel they cannot run the risk of relying entirely on Garner coming back for a second season, and are, therefore, considering alternatives as a matter of priority.