Nottingham Forest defeated Crystal Palace 1-0 on Saturday and Brennan Johnson offered a glimpse that he’s edging back to his best.
The forward has copped some flak this season for some below-par performances and an improvement had been required.
Steve Cooper obviously identified that he needed to be taken out of the firing line.
He was recently dropped to the bench for games against Liverpool and Arsenal but that decision now seems to have had the desired effect.
Johnson can still do more but on Saturday he was really effective against Palace.
He found himself up against Marc Guehi. The defender was probably still reeling from not being selected by Gareth Southgate for the World Cup squad.
If anyone wondered why he’d been left out; they needn’t look any further that Saturday.
Johnson was a constant thorn in the side of Guehi and he used his pace on several occasions to ease past him.
Who Scored showcased some statistics that offered hope that Johnson can kick on in the Premier League after the World Cup.
The 21-year-old completed two dribbles during the 90 minutes and also put in three crosses.
Defensively he was sound too. He made two tackles and put in a real shift when it came to fulfilling his duties at the other end of the pitch.
Furthermore, it was Johnson who forced the save from Vicente Guaita that led to Morgan Gibbs-White tapping home the winning goal.
Johnson edging back to best and World Cup could be key
It’s hard not to have sympathy for Johnson.
He’s come up with Forest and as a Reds supporter, he’s carried the weight of supporter expectation on his shoulders.
Last season he scored 19 goals and he was never going to replicate that during his first campaign in the Premier League.
His work rate has come under scrutiny and at times he could have definitely done more.
With the World Cup in the back of his mind, Johnson like several other players might have been keen to avoid injury.
Now, the shackles can come off. He can enjoy the World Cup and hopefully return to Forest ready to fire the team up the league.
His performance against Palace was very decent and must be the barometer for Johnson in the future.
Guehi will certainly be glad to see the back of him based on Saturday!