When will Joao Carvalho burst into life? That is the question on plenty of lips at Nottingham Forest.

The Portuguese is still waiting on a spark in 2019-20.

An untimely summer injury has, to be fair, done his cause few favours.

Having been forced to sit out the vast majority of pre-season, the 22-year-old has been playing catch-up.

We are, however, well into the third month of the campaign now.

Two international breaks have come and gone, with the opportunity presented there to rest any tired bodies and minds.

Carvalho, in many ways, should be fresher than most.

He has, however, found the rust which built up during an enforced break difficult to shift.

Game time has been rather sporadic, with four starts in the Championship complemented by three outings off the bench.

The most recent of those came in the 1-0 defeat at Wigan.

Inspiration

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

Forest were in need of inspiration during the second half at the DW Stadium, but found said quality to be in short supply.

Tiago Silva looked lively enough on his introduction, but a fellow countryman once again failed to convince.

Carvalho must ensure that does not become a recurring theme.

Big things are expected of him, and rightly so.

Anyone who arrives in English football with a £13 million price tag on their head is going to be under more pressure than most.

Forest made the talented playmaker their club-record signing and want to see a return on that investment.

The odd instalment has been offered, but that has merely been covering interest for the most part.

What the Reds need now is for Carvalho to become a talismanic presence.

Sabri Lamouchi’s side are still crying out for creativity.

Defensive solidity has, on the whole, been established and attention is turning to the opposite end of the field.

Carvalho is the man to pick the lock.

Springboard

 

He just needs to show as much.

A midweek outing against Hull City may yet prove to be the perfect springboard.

Reds fans have, after a selection experiment against Wigan, called for Portuguese flair to occupy the No.10 post against the Tigers.

Both Carvalho and Silva started the club’s last home outing – a 1-0 win over Brentford.

A similar approach could be adopted on Wednesday.

And Carvalho boasts happy memories of facing opponents from East Yorkshire.

His last league goal came against Hull City back on March 9 – 15 Championship outings ago – as the Reds ran out 3-0 victors on the day.

That performance delivered everything that is demanded of a supposed match-winner.

There were the flicks and tricks, clever passes and mazy dribbles, but also end product.

Forest need more of that from Carvalho and will be hoping to see him get back in the groove against the same opponents, and in the same surroundings, as he last ticked all of the boxes.

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