Joao Carvalho is a man generating plenty of debate at Nottingham Forest.

Players of his ilk are always going to divide opinion and see questions asked of how best to utilise them.

Mercurial is probably the best word for these playmaking types.

Those who boast the ability to amaze and infuriate in equal measure.

Caravalho has offered bits of both to the Reds cause since arriving as the club’s record signing.

With £13 million invested in his potential, big things were expected.

A flurry of assists and the odd goal were delivered during a steady start to the season which saw him finding his feet.

His influence had started to wane slightly by the time Aitor Karanka headed for the exits.

The arrival of Martin O’Neill offered a clean slate to all of those at the City Ground.

Some have embraced a change in the dugout and benefited from it.


(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Carvalho does not fit into the category as things stand.

Across O’Neill’s four games at the helm, the Portuguese has seen 18 minutes of action.

That outing came during a 2-0 defeat at Birmingham and he is widely considered to have caught the eye in a cameo showing at St Andrew’s.

He was, however, back on the bench against Brentford on Saturday.

It may be that he has to get accustomed to such a role over the coming weeks as O’Neill favours other options.

Quizzed on the 21-year-old again after a 2-1 victory over the Bees, the Reds boss said in the Nottingham Post: “Young Joao – I thought his 20 minutes against Birmingham were very, very good.

“But this was a tough old game – Brentford were always going to have decent possession, because they are a decent possession team. Maybe sometimes they play past us, which is when we need a little bit more strength in the middle.

“But not only will these things come to pass, but I will learn about them as we go along.”

Brentford are a decent footballing side and showed as much at the City Ground.


If Carvalho can’t get a game on home soil, though, then when can he?

Forest have two tough trips out on the road coming up, to West Brom on Tuesday and Preston at the weekend, before playing host to Derby.

Given the travel sickness suffered over recent weeks, O’Neill is likely to favour graft over guile once again.

That leaves Carvalho as the odd man out.

Ryan Yates earned plenty of plaudits in a midfield berth against Brentford, while Jack Colback is ready to return after suspension.

In the attacking roles, Lewis Grabban is back among the goals while Matty Cash (who is a doubt for a meeting with the Baggies) and Joe Lolley offer more industry than an enigmatic team-mate.

Leo Bonatini managed only 45 minutes against the Bees, but it was Diogo Goncalves – not his countryman – thrust on to replace the Brazilian at the break.

If O’Neill is looking for ‘strength’ first and foremost, then Carvalho doesn’t fit the mould.

He will get opportunities, his undoubted ability dictates as much, but patience is required.

An impact post could be his, as Forest seek inspiration against tired legs, and he may need to impress in that role if a regular starting berth is to be reclaimed.

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