Ben Osborn remains a divisive figure among Nottingham Forest supporters, but his derby showing proved there is a role for him.

A product of the Reds’ academy system has become something of a ‘Marmite Man’ at the City Ground.

There are those who feel he has an important part to play as a versatile performer within an ambitious squad.

And there are those who don’t.

Few players in the Forest squad split opinion quite like Osborn, with there no natural bracket in which to place him.

Square pegs

Is he a central midfielder? Maybe.

Is a winger? Possibly.

Is a left-back? Definitely not!

In many ways, the 24-year-old is paying the price for being a Jack of all trades, master of none.

Jack Colback – a man with first-hand experience of square pegs in round holes – said in the Nottingham Post this week after seeing Osborn shine in an attacking midfield berth against Derby: “Ben is more suited to playing there, isn’t he?

“He has probably been a victim of his own success, because when he has been left-back, he has done well.

“You turn into a player who can play in a few different positions, rather than playing in your own.”

(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

That has certainly been the case with Osborn, but the picture appears to be clearing for his manager.

Karanka had little option but to field a makeshift full-back in the recent 1-0 defeat to Preston, with his defensive options decimated by suspension and injury.

The Spaniard is, however, happy to concede that the Osborn experiment should probably be shelved.

He said after the goalless draw at Pride Park in which a home-grown talent once again took the armband: “In recent games when Ben Osborn had played there [left-back], he had not always been comfortable.

Right direction

“Benny did well, I said always that he is the kind of player who can play in three or four positions and that is good to have, as a manager.

“He is a good character and I am pleased for him, because he got to wear the armband in a derby. That is important for him and important for the team.”

Karanka is right, Osborn didn’t look like a player short on confidence and unsure of his role against the Rams, and that is a notable step in the right direction.

And if the boss considers him to be “important”, then everybody else is going to have to fall in line.

Love it or hate it.

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