Academy graduate Will Swan was one of several players to depart Nottingham Forest in the January transfer window. Having made only two appearances for the Reds, both off the substitutes’ bench, the forward was deployed to League Two in order to continue his development, but Will Swan remains relatively unknown to football fans, including those of Port Vale.
What Port Vale Fans Can Expect From Will Swan
Nottingham Forest Loanee Departs To Continue Development
The former boss had Lyle Taylor, Lewis Grabban and Murray to his disposal but he wanted to ensure that Swan’s talent was not wasted in the Professional Development League – and so a loan move to Port Vale arose.
Swan could have ended up in League One, with Paul Lambert‘s Ipswich Town interested at one stage, but the 20-year-old chose a temporary move to Stoke-on-Trent.
He was given only 15 minutes to provide an insight into his capabilities when making his debut for Vale against Tranmere Rovers on Saturday (February 6).
With the Valiants losing 3-1 and the game heading towards a scrappy finish, the young forward was hardly given an opportunity to impress. So what can fans of Port Vale, and Forest fans, expect from 20-year-old Will Swan?
Will Swan Is a Talent Nottingham Forest Are Keen to Keep for the Future
It is clear that Nottingham Forest view Swan as a long-term prospect. Having made just two substitute appearances – against Swansea City and Reading – the 20-year-old was given a new, extended deal to keep him at the City Ground until 2024.
Emerging into the first team in November, the young forward has likely only been on Forest’s radar as a potential option for the last few months.
That is mostly down to Will Swan’s development at the Nigel Doughty Academy coming in fits and starts. A series of different injuries, including a particularly difficult hamstring difficulty, meant the forward was delayed in joining the Under-23 side – managed then by Gary Brazil and Chris Cohen.
Despite the slower transition through the youth teams, the academy coaching staff at Nottingham Forest were well aware of what Will Swan had to offer.
“We always knew how talented he was – we knew he was a talented boy,” said Cohen to Last Word on Football.
“He had missed a year in the gym so needed to work on that physical side, but we knew the talent was there immediately.
“So it was about us trying to find a way to get him a run of games so he could show the talent we knew he had.”
Having returned from an impressive loan spell, where Swan scored nine goals in nine games, the first national lockdown meant that his playing time was cut short. The forward did, however, take full advantage of the time available by making the conscious decision to get a personal trainer.
With plenty of hard work and mental determination, the forward returned to training with the Under-23s stronger, fitter and faster than ever before.
Cohen added: “We all knew he was going to end up in our first team, or Chris Hughton’s first team, the moment he returned on the first day back after lockdown and blew everyone away in the running session.
“He had made the decision that the lockdown was an opportunity for him not to relax but to go for it and now he’s reaping the benefits.”
An Energetic And Motivated Playing Style
Will Swan never gives up. Epitomised by his determination to get a chance with the first team during the lockdown; Swan never stops running, will always look to get a shot away when possible and tries to stretch the defence.
Whilst not the strongest of players, Swan managed to remain composed during one game in a loan spell with Truro City to finish tidily.
Paul Wotton, manager of the Southern Premier Leauge side, told Last Word on Football: “We had a game away at Swindon. He wouldn’t have done this in his first game, but he was chasing the ball down – a bit of a lost cause – a long ball over the top, went shoulder to shoulder and sent the centre back flying, and then whipped it into the top corner.”
He added: “Will was already very good when he joined us, but his physicality, running, power and holding off challenges improved well. He plays off the shoulder [of defenders] and is quick. Swanny worked hard on the pitch and we loved having him about the place.”
Loan Move to Non-League Side Began Further Development For Will Swan
A loan move to Truro City provided Will Swan with his first taste of adult football. It meant that the forward not only had to adjust to the new level of physicality, but he also had to quickly learn plenty of life lessons with a weekly commute of seven hours on the train in order to play for the Cornish side.
Joining a team so far away would likely have come as a surprise to some Forest fans; the move ultimately came about thanks to the relationship between then Academy manager Gary Brazil and Paul Wotton, manager of the White Tigers.
Wotton said: “They wanted Swanny to go out and play men’s football; to give him an education in life too. The distance was a part of that too really – having to deal with things himself, getting on with certain things. So it was more of an educational thing, but to give him men’s football too.”
Whilst Swan started off “rather tentatively”, he eventually settled into the squad and showed his talent by netting twice on his debut in a 4-0 win over Metropolitan Police.
“Every time he trained with us he got more confident around the boys,” Wotton said. “He became one of the lads, became more confident on the pitch, getting physically strong, scoring goals and was enjoying it.”
With 32 points to their name, Port Vale are hardly in a relegation scrap but may be too far adrift of the play-offs to make a promotion charge; the Valiants can, however, have plenty to look forward to as Will Swan looks to continue his development away from Nottingham Forest.
For Reds fans, there continues to be a hope that another academy graduate will become a regular first-team player.