West Ham to battle rivals for defender after Champ club make surprise contract admission

Joe Worrall, Scott McKenna Nottingham Forest before the Championship match against Reading at the City Ground

West Ham United are in the hunt to sign Nottingham Forest defender Joe Worrall who has yet to open talks with the Championship club over a new deal.

The centre-back is attracting plenty of interest following some solid performances for Forest and the Hammers are keen. They are not alone though with Everton and Southampton also said to be keeping tabs on the 24-year-old.

With top flight clubs starting to form an orderly queue you would think that Forest would be keen to tie Worrall to a long-term deal. However that is not the case.

He is under contract until the end of 2024 and according to Forest boss Steve Cooper there is no panic.

West Ham or any other interested party would still have to pay big money to lure Worrall away and Forest are in no rush to open talks.

Cooper has been speaking to Nottinghamshire live and says Worrall is not the only player who is on a long-term deal and will have to wait for a renewal.

Forest playing it cool

For now Forest remain fully focused on trying to win promotion to the Premier League and are keen to avoid distractions.

They are ninth on the table just a couple of points behind the play-offs and it would not be a good idea to start contract talks with key players.

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So with that in mind Forest are happy to wait until at least the end of the season before talking terms.

It also goes without saying promotion to the Premier League would make a huge difference to the terms on offer. So why talk now.

“There are other boys on longer-term contracts as well, who are not up for discussion at the moment because they are only a year or so into them – Joe Worrall and Scott McKenna etc,” Cooper told Nottinghamshire Live.

“But Yatesy (Ryan Yates) is just a good example of good commitment from the club, thinking both short and long-term. Short-term, okay, we want to be as competitive as we can and win as many games as possible.

“But longer-term, we’ve got to think about succession planning and things like that. Yatesy and the other boys on longer-term contracts are going to be a part of that, which is good.”

Even so, the fact Worrall is not tied to a long-term deal could leave the door open for the Hammers to swoop.

West Ham want new defender

A new central defender is on the wanted list of boss David Moyes and Worrall would be a good fit. He has his best years ahead of him and could make the step up to the Premier League. Moyes wanted him in January but ran out of time to get the deal done.

Worrall himself could be reluctant to pen any contract extensions despite being Forest through and through. He was born in the area and came through the youth system. Even so the chance to play in the Premier League will be tempting. If he cannot get there with Forest he is sure to weigh up his options.

West Ham is one such option but he will not be short of them. Now all interested parties will be watching Forest’s promotion push with interest. If they fail the offers are sure to flood in.

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