Nottingham Forest boss Sabri Lamouchi has surprisingly told Nottinghamshire Live that his decision not to put Aro Muric on the bench against Cardiff was purely tactical.
The Kosovo international has been forced to play second fiddle since August having lost his place to Congolese goalkeeper Brice Samba.
On Saturday, Jordan Smith occupied the spot on the bench reserved for a substitute goalkeeper; with some suggesting the on-loan Manchester City man might be injured.
That doesn’t appear to have been the case though and this latest decision will surely spark debate regarding Muric’s future on Trentside.
Smith hasn’t played a first-team game for the Reds since the 2017/18 campaign when he was a regular under Mark Warburton. Last season he played one game on loan with Barnsley and 12 during a spell at Mansfield Town.
Lamouchi insists that his inclusion on the bench on Saturday was tactical and there is no issue with Muric.
He told Nottinghamshire Live: “There is nothing. There’s no problem at all with Aro.”
His short and sweet response certainly offers more questions than answers but it could hand Smith a Forest lifeline.
It may suggest that Lamouchi is seriously considering sending Muric back to the Etihad Stadium during the summer and that could hand a big boost to Smith.
With Luke Steele out on loan and Costel Pantilimon out of the picture, Smith could find himself on the bench more frequently during the second half of the season.
The 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer. Even if he doesn’t earn a City Ground extension, his promotion to second choice could earn him another contract elsewhere.
It’s a strange situation. Smith was dropped to the bench by boss David Flitcroft last season and his career appeared at a crossroads.
Lamouchi hasn’t had any qualms about using him in his squads this season, however. His progression back up the pecking order speaks volumes of his character.