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Jamie Ward set to sign for Forest

The winger, released by Derby only days ago, looks likely to be Dougie Freedman's first signing of the summer. Hmmmmm....

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Nottingham Forest are set to complete the free signing of former Derby winger Jamie Ward, according to reports from the Daily Telegraph's John Percy and the Daily Mail.

Ward was released by Derby at the end of the season, and despite having made 29 appearances for Steve McClaren's side over the course of their ultimately doomed campaign.

The reaction to this deal comes in stages. The first is acceptance: this is not a particularly sexy, blow-your-socks-off sort of signing. Ward is a Northern Irish international, but then again so are a few MK Dons players, and according to the Mail was released despite having a year left on his contract at Pride Park.

However, it's a symbol of where we are. The transfer embargo, while not really being a transfer embargo, does limit Forest to these sort of deals - the frees, the reclamation projects, the gems in the rough that nobody else wants but could be fashioned into something better.

It's easy to be underwhelmed by a signing like this, but equally it was easy to be underwhelmed by half the signings Ipswich made last season, but Mick McCarthy managed to assemble a fairly rag tag bunch of off-cuts and chancers into a playoff team. Indeed, one of the motivations behind signing Ward this early might have been to get there before Ipswich could.

And Ward is a decent player. He's always been one of those chippy little sods that whenever he played against Forest you thought 'I hate that chippy little sod...but I wish he wasn't playing against us.' He could be a useful addition, provide a few goals and generally annoy some opposition.

The real problem, however, is what this signing means for the rest of the team. Ward is a right-footed winger who generally plays from the left and, well, we've already got one of those. For now. Ward's signing might not be a sign that Michail Antonio will be leaving, but it certainly looks like one. And if this is a pre-emptive replacement for the man who was Forest's most - and for long spells only - dangerous player last season, then we really need to start worrying.

Equally, Ward is just the sort of player that will block the progress of players like Oliver Burke. He's just good enough for Freedman to half-justify playing him ahead of the youngster, but not good enough to justify slowing down his development.

Additionally, it's another sign that the advice from our pals over at Lion of Vienna Suite gave after Freedman's appointment wasn't just the sour grapes of a fan annoyed at a job done badly. Chris Manning told us in February:

He also gave our youth team graduates the hope that they might move up into the first-team, but again instead it proved to be all talk as he preferred to bring in sub-par loanees from Crystal Palace as well as various other waifs and strays.

Ward might be a decent Championship-level player, but he definitely falls into the category of 'waif and stray'. He might be a solid performer, but as with everything at Forest, it just isn't that simple.