Max Lowe is injured, Jack Colback is suspended and Gaetan Bong is woefully short of quality. With that in mind, it really is a case of now or never for Nottingham Forest youngster Jayden Richardson.
The Reds head to West Brom tomorrow night with Bong as the only recognised left-back. Steve Cooper chose to play Jack Colback out of position on Tuesday, avoiding the temptation to start the ex-Brighton man.
Tomorrow, he might be left with no choice. Except he does have a choice and the man with a glowing reputation of nurturing youngsters has got to give Richardson the nod.
The academy full-back has showcased his versatility in the past. Although he came through the ranks as a right-back, he spent time playing on the left during a loan spell with Exeter.
There he helped the club reach the League Two play-off final and made 28 appearances in his first taste of men’s football. Last season he spent time with Forest Green, helping them to the play-offs too.
After returning to Forest, he earned a starting berth at left-back against both Bradford and Wolves in the Carabao Cup, performing reasonably well in both games.
The youngster has also stepped off the bench twice in the Championship. He played the final 16 minutes of Chris Hughton’s last game in charge and then played 11 minutes against Huddersfield.
Bold: Cooper has to play Forest gem Richardson at West Brom
At 21, Richardson isn’t really a burgeoning talent anymore. He’s ready for first-team action and what better time for Cooper to run the rule over him.
There isn’t really a lot to lose for Forest at West Brom. The Reds will be keen to give a good account of themselves against a team boasting a wealth of parachute payments and a quality squad.
Richardson has learned his trade out on loan and he deserves a chance. He has somewhat outgrown under-23 football and with his contract up in the summer, Forest need to hand him a chance.
Supporters would accept a few mistakes if they come from a youngster trying to make his way in the game. Bong has already made countless in the red of Forest and enough is enough.
It really is now or never for Richardson at Forest.