NOTTINGHAM FOREST manager Sean O'Driscoll believes that a trimmed-down Andy Reid is in the best form of his career.
O'Driscoll feels that the Dubliner has matured over the the past year, and also suggested he could be captain material. Reid struggled with his form and fitness last term, and spent periods out of the team at a time when O'Driscoll was first-team coach under Steve Cotterill.
He took the reins from Cotterill in the summer, and thinks it is the work which Reid put in during pre-season which is paying off now.
The 30-year-old has played a key role in the club's decent campaign to date, with the midlanders sitting in ninth spot, one point outside the play-off places.
"As people get older, they get more mature," said O'Driscoll, with regard to Reid's improvement. "He has not had a bad career, that's for sure. But he still wants to achieve something at Forest.
"He lost a lot of weight in the summer. He trains really well. When he wasn't in the team last season, I still always thought to myself that he was one of the better players. It was just a case of trying to get him into the team."
Reid previously went through a rigorous pre-season regime at Sunderland that arguably led to his best spell in the Premier League, although it failed to win over Giovanni Trapattoni. His form tailed off but O'Driscoll's words would suggest he is in a secure spot back at his first club.
"He is reliable, he is a good bloke in the dressing-room and he always has an opinion. You can talk to him. He is captain material," O'Driscoll said. "He says he played against Cafu, who is the most adventurous full-back ever known – and Andy reckons he did a job on him. If he can do a job on Cafu, he can play in the Championship.
"He is never going to be svelte-like, but he is fit and he works very hard in training. People make runs off him because they believe he will spot it. If you are a striker, you would want Andy Reid in your team."
Meanwhile, Forest's Irish contingent is set to swell with the addition of Derry City winger Stephen McLaughlin, who impressed on a trial period with the club. The Donegal native starred for the Candystripes last year after stepping into James McClean's boots, and the goalscoring midfielder is highly regarded.
McLaughlin is not the only League of Ireland player close to agreeing a move across the water, with Waterford United striker Sean Maguire close to penning a deal with West Ham.