Nottingham Forest can beat Burnley and show they are becoming contenders for a top-half finish

Steve Cooper is building a solid squad at Forest (Picture: NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Are Nottingham Forest surprise contenders for European football next season?

Stranger things have happened like 5000/1 Leicester City winning the Premier League while at the start of last season West Ham winning a European trophy, Brighton becoming serious contenders for a coveted top-four finish and Newcastle returning to the Champions League would have been deemed preposterous.

Aston Villa, Brentford and Fulham are also exceeding expectations so it’s not impossible for Forest to return to former glories if the infrastructure is sound.

They certainly appear to be on a solid footing and a Monday night victory over Burnley at the City Ground could lift them to seventh in the table, just a solitary point behind the Hammers in sixth.

The club’s hierarchy may well be targeting Premier League survival as the main priority after being involved in the relegation scrap for much of last term, but privately they will be daring to dream.

No one is suggesting Forest are on the cusp of returning to those glory days four decades ago when Brian Clough twice led them to European Cup success but current boss Steve Cooper is building a strong side that’s difficult to beat.

Anthony Elanga is one of Forest’s shrewd signings (Picture: Getty Images)

They have made a healthy start to the season with wins at home to Sheffield United and at Chelsea while they were unfortunate to return from their trips to Arsenal and Manchester United without two more points in the bag.

Shrewd summer signings like Callum Hudson-Odoi, Divock Origi, Anthony Elanga, Matt Turner and Nuno Tavares mean there’s competition for every position in the side and if Taiwo Awoniyi stays healthy and among the goals the future is bright indeed.

Awoniyi has been impressive with three goals in four league matches and is 5/1 with Betfair and Paddy Power to open the scoring against the Clarets and 15/8 with the same firms to hit the net at any time.

Forest will be too strong for Burnley, who are shipping goals at an alarming rate, and the hosts are 5/4 to win with BetUK.

Cooper’s side are 66/1 with Bet365 and William Hill to finish the season as the top Midlands team, with Aston Villa’s Europa Conference League quest likely to take a domestic toll, and they are also worth a minimum bet at 5/1 with Betfred for a top-half finish.

• Continuous, our success ful 3/1 tip to win the St Leger on Saturday, needs to be supplemented for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but is worth an each-way wager to win the big race at the start of next month at 12/1 with Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill.

• Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb is 11/2 with Betfred to score the first touchdown in their Monday Night Football duel with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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