NOTTINGHAM Forest have taken the first steps towards signing Saints loanee Billy Sharp on a permanent basis – and the striker says that the move would be a 'good option' for him.

But new manager Alex McLeish may have to play a patient waiting game, with Sharp also today insisting that he is in no rush to commit his long-term future to Forest.

Sharp insisted on there being NO clause to allow Saints to recall him in January, when he joined on loan from the Premier League club in the summer.

And he has pledged that, between now and the end of the season, he wants to score 20 goals and help the Reds to promotion into the top-flight.

It would be his second successive Championship promotion, having scored nine goals for Saints after they signed him for £1.8m from Doncaster Rovers almost 12 months ago.

"When I signed for the season, I wanted some stability. So I didn't want there to be a clause where I could be recalled in January," Sharp told the Nottingham Evening Post newspaper.

"The (Forest) owners have said that they do want to buy me. But a lot has to happen, they have to ask Southampton first, for a start.

"But I am here for the season, at the very least, because they cannot recall me in January. I did not want that clause to be in the deal. I did not want any interruptions. I have had a few injury problems in the last few seasons and I have not been able to get to that 20-goal mark.

"That has really frustrated me. Hopefully I can stay fit and get those 20 goals for Forest."

Sharp took his tally for Forest to nine, as he netted an injury-time equaliser to earn McLeish a point from his first game in charge, against Crystal Palace, on Saturday.

The goal lifted the roof off the City Ground and Sharp says his relationship with the Reds fans could be a key factor in deciding his future.

"I will score as many as I can for Forest and then weigh my options up. And signing for Forest is a really good option. Something might still happen in January," he said.

"There has not been a concrete offer, but there has been talks between the main men and myself. I am enjoying what I am doing, I am doing well – so I don't like to change things."

McLeish added: "Billy's record speaks for itself. He has prowess in the box, he has finishing power – he is an asset. He would be an asset to any club. He would be a tremendous acquisition."