Arijanet Muric was conspicuous by his absence during Nottingham Forest’s home date with Cardiff City on Saturday.

The Kosovo international has not been part of the starting XI selection process for some time.

The form of Brice Samba has seen to that.

Muric has, however, been the go-to back-up option when it comes to bench duty.

That was not the case at the weekend.

Jordan Smith was promoted back up the pecking order and into second spot.

Should anything be read into that?

Sabri Lamouchi claims not.

The Reds boss said in the Nottingham Post when quizzed on Muric: “There is no position. We lost. There is no problem at all.”

A hardly unsurprising line from official channels.

Poser

(Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Muric, though, provides something of a poser.

He was acquired on loan from Manchester City with the intention of being first-choice this season.

His standing as No.1 over the summer and at the start of the 2019-20 campaign proved as much.

Early errors rocked his confidence and cost him dear.

Samba stepped in and has been a revelation between the sticks.

There is no shame in acting as understudy to a man who has already cemented a reputation as one of the finest keepers in the Championship.

Muric is back at a career crossroads though.

At 21 years of age, his ongoing development needs regular game time.

City hoped to see him find those minutes at the City Ground.

Capable

 

Barring an untimely injury to Samba, he is not going to see many more.

And with that in mind, is it worth him hanging around?

Smith is a more than capable No.2, having already taken in 47 appearances for Forest.

If a third option is required at some stage – with Costel Pantilimon firmly frozen out – then surely senior experience could be given another promising academy graduate.

There is little benefit to be found in keeping Muric on.

Which is no slight on him, more acceptance that a better solution can be found for all concerned.

With January approaching, cutting short a season-long agreement would free him to find another move elsewhere.

Somewhere he can compete for starting duties.

Or at least make the bench.

There probably wasn’t anything sinister in Lamouchi’s decision to overlook Muric on Saturday, but it would not come as any surprise either if a long walk towards the exits has been set in motion.

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