NOTTINGHAM Forest legend Gary Birtles has warned his old club not to take Huddersfield Town lightly on the opening day of the Championship campaign.
The sides meet at the City Ground on Saturday, August 3 – less than six months since Forest romped to a 6-1 home win over Town.
That was Mark Robins ’ first league game at the helm and the second of Billy Davies’ second spell as Forest manager.
“I’d certainly take another 6-1 win,” said Birtles. “But I’d also be happy with a scrappy 1-0, as long as my old club get off to a winning start.
“I’m sure a lot of fans will look at it as an easy opener, but it won't be. There are no easy games on the first day of the season.
“ Town will not be pushovers, far from it. They will also come to the City Ground knowing most people will be expecting them to get beaten, so they won't have any pressure on them.
“It will all be on Billy and Forest, and that will add a different dimension to the game, and it’s vitally important to get off to a good start.
“All of pre-season is geared towards being ready for the first three games, which for me, are as important as any in the whole season because they can set the standard.
“A good start and you’re flying, but if you have a bad start you come under pressure very quickly.”
With Davies twice going close to leading Forest back into the Premier League, fans are desperate it will be third time lucky.
And the backing of wealthy owners the Al Hasawi family means there is expectation.
“Billy is back and he has a track record of getting teams into the play-offs,” added Birtles. “And last season’s strong finish has raised the bar.
Forest have brought in two new faces in defenders Gonzalo Jara Reyes, from West Brom, and Eric Lichaj, from Aston Villa.
They have also agreed a two-year deal with ex-Millwall striker Darius Henderson, who spent the second half of last season at the City Ground.
Celtic ace Gary Hooper has also been linked, and Birtles said: “We’re still waiting to see exactly how the team is going to look.
“We’re all hoping the owners give Billy the wherewithal to go out and build a team that can achieve something.
“There’s not been a great deal of activity anywhere really, but there's still plenty of time. The only worry is that other teams will snap up Forest’s targets.”
It will be the second time Town have visited Forest first up following a 2-1 League I defeat back in 2005-06.