Nottingham Forest lost 3-2 to Fulham on Friday night and the game highlighted that Lewis O’Brien simply has to play.
The Reds head coach Steve Cooper opted to leave the man signed from Huddersfield on the bench for a second successive game.
Ryan Yates and Remo Freuler played in the middle of the park and once again Forest were crying out for O’Brien.
The 23-year-old was a £10 million signing from the Terriers during the summer transfer window.
He started the first five games of the season but was surprisingly dropped to the bench for the game against Bournemouth.
On Friday night he did at least get on the pitch and his cameo performance showed why Cooper has to stick with him.
O’Brien is mature beyond his years, always wants to get the ball moving forwards and on Friday he opened his account with a well-taken goal.
Cooper does have a lot of midfielders at his disposal now and finding the winning formula he something he must do quickly.
Despite playing just 21 minutes, he completed 92.9% of his passes and was given a 7.48 rating by Who Scored.
He also made two tackles and one interception during his time on the pitch with his work rate undeniable.
O’Brien was one of the best central midfielders in the Championship last season and he’s clearly keen to impact the Premier League.
O’Brien has to play and Cooper faces challenge
There will come a point when the Forest head coach simply has to stop tinkering and get a settled team together.
O’Brien should be one player who shouldn’t see his position come into question.
He’s arguably been Forest’s best player during their seven Premier League games so far and he deserves a shirt.
The challenge for Cooper is to decide who plays alongside him in the midfield engine room.
The boss has persisted with his two-man midfield so far but there could come a point when he plays three and tries to shore things up.
O’Brien proved a big point on Friday night and now Cooper must hand him regular game time.