Joao Carvalho did not figure in Nottingham Forest’s matchday squad at Reading – cue mass hysteria regarding the Portuguese’s future at the City Ground.

For some, the Reds’ record signing should be playing every week.

A loyal fan base feel a No.10 berth is the 22-year-old’s for the taking.

Play him in his favoured position, sit back and admire.

The reality is not quite that simple.

Sabri Lamouchi does not favour a system which lends itself to deploying an enigmatic playmaker.

For the Frenchman, everyone has to do their bit.

There cannot be any passengers.

Carvalho has been one at times this season.

It is fair to say he is still waiting on a spark – which has been the case for 18 months.

Promise

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There have been flashes of brilliance and real promise.

He started his debut campaign well enough and has two goals to his name this term.

An unfortunate injury over the summer did, however, rather set the tone.

Carvalho has found himself playing catch-up throughout 2019-20 and is yet to work his way through the pack.

There is an obvious argument for him needing minutes in order to find top form.

That will be countered by those questioning his contribution.

Places, at any level, should never be guaranteed – they have to be earned.

Carvalho knows as much and does not need to be told that he needs to offer more in order to become a regular in starting XIs.

Lamouchi has passed that message on regardless.

He has said in the Nottingham Post after overlooking Carvalho at the Madejski Stadium: “I need him. It was just the plan for that game.

“The plan for that game was clear in my mind; it was so perfect, but unfortunately we just got one point. It was just a tactical choice.”

Problem

 

Lamouchi added: “For me, he is a Forest player. He knows exactly what I am waiting for from him. I need more.

“Needs to help us. He needs to help the club. Needs to help his teammates. He knows his level and knows what I am waiting for from him.

“I don’t have any problem with him. But him, and all of them, they are not my friends, they are my players.

“We want to achieve our goals, so we have to be tough, work hard and keep going.”

Lamouchi is right to point out that he cannot be “friends” with those at his disposal.

Tough love is required sometimes.

Carvalho got that from Martin O’Neill last season, with more of the same being dished out in the present.

The hope will be that he responds positively to the challenges put to him.

There are plenty of supportive ears to talk to and shoulders to lean on around him on Trentside.

A friendship circle does not extend to the dugout, though, and Carvalho needs to learn that quickly if he is to deliver on the expectation which followed him to England.

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