Nottingham Forest have a defensive void to fill in the wake of Tobias Figueiredo’s red card at Aston Villa, but who should Aitor Karanka turn to?

It was not all that apparent on a remarkable night in the West Midlands on Wednesday, but solidity at the back has been a positive for the Reds over recent weeks.

They may have been breached on five occasions by Villa, but four clean sheets had been secured across five outings prior to that.

Figueiredo played an important role during that run, with his role alongside Michael Dawson introduced during a profitable trip to Bolton.

Enforced exile

The Portuguese is, however, about to slip into enforced exile.

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His sending off at Villa Park has the 24-year-old facing up to a ban, with dismissals for “dangerous tackles or violent conduct” carrying a three-game suspension.

Forest’s next three fixtures are set to pitch them into battle with Ipswich, Preston and Derby.

Who steps in for Figueiredo?

(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Michael Hefele was introduced off the bench against Villa and may be the most suitable option.

The German endeared himself to Reds fans earlier in the season with combative displays and an admission that the pre-match atmosphere at the City Ground “turns me on so much!”

Questions have been asked of him since then, though, and his last outing alongside Dawson came in the forgettable 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat to Burton.

The alternative to Hefele is Danny Fox, but there are issues to be found there as well.

Match sharpness

The most pressing of those would be match sharpness, with the 32-year-old not considered ready for a place in the matchday squad at Villa.

He will have had a few more days of rest before Ipswich roll into town and, after impressing early in the campaign, could be given a chance to play his way back to form and fitness before a trip to Derby on December 17.

Forest will be eager to avoid rushing him back, though, and a standing alongside Dawson would put the combined age of the Reds’ centre-half pairing at 67.

There is clearly much for Karanka to mull over before nailing his next team sheet to the wall but, then again, red cards and 5-5 draws tend to present such posers!

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