Steve Cooper speaks to Sky Sports. “We have to get the balance right. We have to respect that we’re playing Manchester United. We have to play with good ambition, good intent, it’s a semi-final, not often do they come around. We’re still not the team we want to be. There are a load of things we need to improve on. But we have made some forward steps. If there’s ever a time that we think we’re doing well enough, that won’t be for me, we’ve got to fight even harder. We played United away just after Christmas, and we weren’t good enough on the night. We didn’t give a good impression of ourselves and we didn’t like that, so we spoke about that.”
Forest make three changes to the side named for the 1-1 draw at Bournemouth last weekend. Scott McKenna, Danilo and Sam Surridge are in; Orel Mangala drops to the bench, Ryan Yates is ill, and Chris Wood is cup-tied. The on-loan Dean Henderson remains injured, though he’d have been ineligible against his parent club anyway.
United make three changes to the starting XI selected for the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal. At the back, Tyrrell Malacia and Victor Lindelof replace Luke Shaw and Raphael Varane, while in midfield Casemiro returns from suspension to take the place of Scott McTominay.
Nottingham Forest: Hennessey, Aurier, Worrall, McKenna, Lodi, Danilo, Freuler, Johnson, Gibbs-White, Scarpa, Surridge.
Subs: Smith, Cook, Mangala, Williams, Colback, Lingard, O’Brien, Dennis, Boly.
Manchester United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Martinez, Malacia, Fernandes, Casemiro, Eriksen, Antony, Weghorst, Rashford.
Subs: Heaton, Fred, Varane, Pellistri, Williams, Elanga, McTominay, Garnacho, Mainoo.
Nottingham Forest have won this competition on four occasions; Manchester United five. For both clubs, their last success in the League Cup is also the last major domestic trophy they won, Forest defeating Oldham Athletic in the 1990 final, United doing for Southampton in 2017. In context of subsequent trajectories and concomitant expectations, it’s been a long drought for both. Who will get a chance to slake their thirst at Wembley next month? We’re two steps away from finding out. Step one kicks off at 8pm GMT. It’s on!