James Garner capped off his fine loan spell at Nottingham Forest by delivering a well-rounded midfield performance in front of a packed Wembley.
The midfielder’s crucial tackle just outside the penalty area, and his driven ball that caused Levi Colwill’s own goal, not only showed just what he can do in and out of possession but also ended Forest’s long wait for a return to the promised land after a 1-0 playoff final triumph against Huddersfield Town.
Garner, 21, wasn’t even born the last time the Reds were in the Premier League.
Unfortunately for Steve Cooper’s side, the same qualities also mean he has outgrown Forest, and is unlikely to be part of their adventure in England’s top-flight.
Garner will return to his parent club, Man Utd, for pre-season training under Erik ten Hag. The new manager wants to take a closer look before drawing up a plan for the talented midfielder.
Both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer also assessed Garner during their respective tenures.
The Portuguese gave Garner his first United senior start against San Jose Earthquakes in July 2018. “He is a player,” the current AS Roma head coach recently told a confidant, as per the Manchester Evening News.
Solskjaer, meanwhile, oversaw the academy graduate’s league debut against Crystal Palace in 2019 before deciding a loan spell is ideal for his development. The decision to send him to the Championship has benefitted Garner, who now seems ready to make a step up.