Joao Carvalho boasts that sprinkling of magic dust which few of his Nottingham Forest team-mates possess.

That is not up for debate.

The Portuguese is a match-winner on his day and a key part of the Reds fold.

He is also the club’s £13 million record signing (per BBC Sport).

A combination of those factors does not, however, make him a guaranteed starter.

Just because he boasts the biggest price tag does not make him untouchable.

Carvalho is finding that out under Martin O’Neill.

The new man at the City Ground helm left the 21-year-old on the bench for his first game against Bristol City.

A lack of creativity in that contest has led to calls for an instant recall to be handed out.

O’Neill, though, has never been one to bow to peer pressure.


(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

He has said in the Nottingham Post of his early experiences with Carvalho: “From the bits I have seen of him, I think he is a very talented footballer.

“I think that, despite some very early promise, he is still getting used to the real demands of this league.

“This is something that players can find real difficulty in. They might get off to a good early start and then the winter months kick-in and it is something else.”

That is a fair assessment.

For all of Carvalho’s obvious qualities, the neat touches and clever passes, there have been a number of games in which he has gone missing.

That is to be expected.

He is 21 years of age and been thrown in at the deep end of an unforgiving Championship pool.

It is to his credit that he has swum not sunk, with immediate results demanded of him.

Three goals and six assists is a healthy return for a man finding his feet in the new surroundings of a different country and culture.

There is also the promise of much more to come.

He is not going to be given anything on a plate, though.

O’Neill added in the Post: “He has definite talent, no question of that and, like anything else, it is up to him to fight his way into the side, hopefully.

“It is up to him to hopefully believe he will get a chance to play. I am sure during the coming weeks that could easily happen.”


Hard but fair from the Reds boss.

Precisely the way it should be.

Every player in the squad, regardless of salary, asking price or reputation should have to win their place in the side.

Carvalho is no different.

He will get chances over the coming weeks – plenty of them – and it is up to him to take them.

The first real test of his time in England has been put to him.

If he is the player we consider him to be and all hope he can become, then he should rise to the challenge and pass with flying colours.

The correct stance is being taken.

O’Neill is right to make it clear that there will be no gimmees under his guidance and that every shirt must be earned – even those which cost £13m.

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