Neil Harris has told his Cardiff City players to show they are “serious” about promotion as they begin life without Lee Tomlin on Tuesday night.
The Bluebirds manager is demanding a reaction from his side who were beaten 2-0 at Stoke City last weekend, a result which stalled their play-off surge and allowed Swansea City to climb back above them in the Championship.
With 12 matches of the season left, Cardiff are six points adrift of the play-off places, giving the visit of fifth-placed Forest a critical feel in the eyes of Harris.
“If we’re serious about the play-offs, we have to beat the teams around us,” said Harris, whose team will be without their highly influential playmaker Tomlin for the next six to eight weeks because of a knee injury sustained in training.
“With two huge games in four days next week, it’s a huge chance for us. I’m looking forward to Tuesday night, and seeing how my team responds.
“We have to make sure that the Stoke game was a one-off. When you play again so soon, especially against a team just above you in the division, it’s important to put things right. It will be a great game against Forest.”
The Bluebirds gained a notable 1-0 win away to Forest earlier in the season, and Forest manager Sabri Lamouchi has claimed his team must be ready to counter Cardiff’s “aggression”.
He said: “It will be a very tough game. Against Cardiff with the same manager, at home it was a difficult game with a lot of chances but we lost.
“They were very compact, very aggressive and very strong so it will be similar, probably tougher. Physically we need to refresh the players because it is two games after the QPR game and we travel after today’s session, we play tomorrow night an important game.
“They play at home so they need to do something different from the game here, we will see. I know what kind of game we will expect but we need to play the way that we know.”
Joe Ralls could regain his place having watched the Stoke fixture from the bench after missing four games with a glute issue.
Defender Matthew Connolly (ankle), winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing (hamstring) and forward Isaac Vassell (thigh) are all long-term absentees and will play no part.
Lamouchi will pick from an almost full-strength squad. Samba Sow (knee) has returned to the injury list after recovering from a previous issue to partake in his club’s 2-2 draw with West Brom on Saturday and is unlikely to feature.
Nuno da Costa is doubtful after leaving the pitch injured during an under-23s fixture. Tendayi Darikwa has missed the majority of the season with an ACL rupture and is not expected to return during this campaign.
Cardiff come into this game off the back of a mixed couple of weeks. They beat Huddersfield 3-0 on February 12, followed that up with a 2-2 draw at home to Wigan and then fell to defeat against Stoke at the weekend.
Forest have also struggled since their 2-0 win over Leeds on February 8. Following a 1-0 defeat to Charlton three days later, they drew 2-2 with leaders West Brom and were then held to a stalemate by QPR.