Nottingham Forest are no one-one man band, but the value of Samba Sow is impossible to ignore when the Malian midfielder misses out.
The 30-year-old was absent for Saturday’s trip to Birmingham.
We all know what happened there.
Would the outcome have been any different had Sow been involved?
It is impossible to tell, but recent history suggests it would have been.
That is because a key cog in a well-oiled machine has been ticking over better than most.
Forest’s success in 2019-20 has been built on the power of the collective.
Under Sabri Lamouchi, everyone has a job to do.
Individuals have thrived within that system.
Brice Samba has starred between the posts, Joe Worrall been a rock at centre-half, while Matty Cash is a man reborn at right-back.
Ben Watson is water carrying like never before, Joe Lolley offers magic dust and Lewis Grabban has found the target on 16 occasions.
Yes, he should have bolstered that tally at St Andrew’s.
He didn’t, though, and faults were exposed elsewhere.
Within seconds of Grabban missing a first-half penalty against Birmingham, Forest were reined in to 1-1 rather than being 2-0 in front.
Another lapse in concentration?
We have seen a few of those of late, most notably in the dramatic double-header against Reading.
Sow figured in both of those games, so is no miracle worker.
The Reds did, however, take something from each meeting with the Royals.
They were left empty-handed by the Blues last time out.
Sow’s energy in the middle of the park, along with his ability to break up play and be a general nuisance for opponents, was a big miss.
Lamouchi told the Nottingham Post afterwards: “He had a problem with his knee and we can’t play with players not at 100 per cent.
“I don’t think it is serious and I hope it is not serious. I hope he will be ready for the next game.
“That (Sow’s absence) is not the reason we lost. We were so stupid and naïve to give them the game, when we started in the way we did.
“I don’t want to find excuses – pitch, wind, referee, opponent, Samba Sow, transfer window, club, fans. It is just our fault. We need to accept that and stop it happening again.”
Using the absence of one player as an excuse would feel like clutching at straws.
Lamouchi, though, will be fully aware of what Sow brings to the table.
Forest have suffered just one defeat with him in their side this season – the 2-1 reversal at Huddersfield as the 2019 summer signing made his return from injury.
When he is fit and firing, the Reds tend to do likewise.
When Alfa Semedo, Ryan Yates, Jon Bostock, or whoever steps in, it just isn’t the same.
The Reds do not rely solely on one man, but one piece of the puzzle is Sow good!