Nottingham Forest lost to Liverpool 1-0 on Saturday but one man who stood pretty strong throughout was Tobias Figueiredo.
In January, the Portuguese defender nearly left the club. Top-flight side Vitoria were keen to sign him but couldn’t get a deal over the line.
That meant he stayed at Forest and it’s been a frustrating couple of months. The form of Joe Worrall, Steve Cook and Scott McKenna has ultimately kept him sitting on the bench.
An opportunity has now knocked for Figueiredo. With Cook and McKenna, both set to miss five weeks of action, it’s a case of next cab off the rank.
He slotted into a back three for last week’s 3-1 win over QPR and did well. Afterwards, he received praise from Joe Lolley who called his performance ‘excellent’.
McKenna went off injured in that game and on Sunday he lined up as part of a back four; partnering Worrall at the heart of the defence.
Seeing Figueiredo line up as part of a back four will have given some Forest fans the jitters.
The Portuguese performer, as reliable as he can be, has been prone to the odd error with most of them coming when playing in a four.
On Sunday he was outstanding. Who Scored confirmed he made four clearances and two tackles during the 90 minutes.
He also completed a pass success ratio of 76.1%, the fourth-highest of any player who started the match.
Figueiredo upturn is symbol of Forest under Cooper
Forest fans would be wise to forget whatever has come before Cooper and judge them solely on the here and now.
The head coach approach was one that left some people scratching their heads. Cooper, however, has improved every single player, including Figueiredo.
The 28-year-old has made 115 appearances for the Reds in total but he is out of contract in the summer.
With Cook and McKenna now out for several weeks, Figueiredo has a genuine chance to earn himself a new City Ground deal.
The ball is in Figueiredo’s court as far as his Forest future goes.