On Wednesday evening, Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa could give Joao Carvalho and Jack Grealish the opportunity to go head-to-head.

The reverse fixture at Villa Park back in November did just that, and we all know what happened then.

To expect another 10-goal thriller is perhaps a tad optimistic.

As things stand, a battling 1-0 win would be most welcome for the Reds.

And Carvalho may have an important role to play on the back of his cameo against Hull City.

Having stepped off the bench to break the deadlock in style against the Tigers, calls for the Portuguese to be handed a starting berth are growing in intensity.

We have been here before and likely will be again before the season is out.

Is Forest’s record signing a regular starter at this stage or an impact substitute?

Ultimately, the only opinion that matters is that of Martin O’Neill.


(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

It is, however, clear that Forest could do with added creativity when taking on a Villa side that boasts plenty.

Especially in the form of Grealish.

As another mercurial playmaker, the Villa captain is the most obvious marker for Carvalho.

During the 5-5 epic at Villa Park, the Forest man got on the scoresheet while his opposite number drew a blank.

Carvalho also had six assists to his name by that point.

Grealish managed one against the Reds, but that only took him to three for the season.

Only one more has been added since, but the Villa man has netted in back-to-back games against Derby and Birmingham since returning from injury.

He is capable of doing damage against Forest in midweek.

Reds legend Kenny Burns has admitted as much, while making a rather bold claim about Carvalho.

The European Cup-winning hero has said in the Nottingham Post: “We will have to stop Jack Grealish. He can be a really dangerous player for Villa.

“We have to make sure we look after him. We need to get someone on him; stop him playing.

“Grealish is a good player; very talented. He was injured for a spell, but has just started to come back into the team.

“I don’t think he’s as good as Joao Carvalho can be for us, but we still need to be wary of him.”



That is some billing for Carvalho.

Whatever your opinion of Grealish, he is a proven performer in the second tier and beyond.

He is only a year older than his Forest counterpart, but has taken on the role of talisman.

That was never more evident than when netting the winner in a derby date with Birmingham on Sunday after previously being punched by a pitch-invading Blues supporter.

Villa needed him to literally drag himself off the turf and deliver on the big occasion.

And he did.

A day earlier, Carvalho had done similar for Forest – dragging himself off the bench to spark a 3-0 win over Hull.

The similarities between two talented performers are obvious.

Both appear destined for bigger things – with Villa and Forest hoping that will happen with them – and a reunion on Wednesday could give Carvalho the chance to show that he does indeed boast the greater potential.

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