Nottingham Forest knew what they were getting when bringing Michael Dawson back to the City Ground.
He was no longer the fresh-faced youngster who stepped out of the Reds’ academy ranks; he was much more than that.
“We all agree, Dawson is better than Rio!”
A chant which used to ring out on the banks of the Trent no longer applies, given Ferdinand’s retirement, but the sentiment remains.
As a languid, rather gangly performer, Dawson’s game has never been about searing pace, so he had nothing to lose there.
Since bursting onto the scene as an uber-confident teenager, leadership, positioning and aerial strength have been his finest qualities.
Which is just as well given that centre-half was his position of choice!
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He became a regular at Forest with Des Walker alongside him and could not have hand-picked a better mentor.
Having gone full circle, Dawson is back in familiar surroundings and filling the role of seasoned master.
Joe Worrall may yet prove to be an able apprentice once he returns from a loan spell at Rangers.
For now, though, it is vast experience, promotion pedigree and undoubted ability that Forest are buying into.
Upon his return to Nottingham, Dawson told the Telegraph of his desire to get the Reds back into the big time: “It would mean more with Forest because I stood in the Trent End with Bryan Roy on my shirt.
“Having stood and watched Forest the last time they were in the Premier League, to get promoted would be special.”
It was all going so well when, having broken into the side in October, an untimely injury struck.
Dawson hobbled out of a 2-0 win over Ipswich on December 1 and has not been seen since.
He is being hamstrung by his hamstring.
Which is unfortunate for all concerned as his value to the cause should not be underestimated.
At 35 years of age questions may have been asked of his ability to make a telling contribution, but he has quickly ended that debate.
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Dawson is yet to taste defeat back in the famous Garibaldi, through 13 appearances.
Ten of those have come in the Championship and Forest have won five and been held in the others – 20 points at an average of two per game.
He has also been breached just nine times – with five of those efforts coming in one game against Aston Villa.
The Reds concede on average 0.9 goals a game with Dawson in their side and 1.3 without him, while finding the target 1.9 times when he is present and only 1.3 times when he is missing.
Absence often makes the heart grow fonder, but that clearly isn’t the case here.
Get well soon, Michael, we need you back to finish the job!