Martin O’Neill has played down talk of Joao Carvalho leaving Nottingham Forest, saying he’s no had any conversations regarding the midfielder’s future at the City Ground. O’Neill said to Nottinghamshire Live: “I’ve definitely had no conversations with anyone concerning him at this minute. These are all things for the next few weeks. But he’s definitely a talented player.”
Carvalho has made 35 Championship appearances since joining from Benfica last summer, scoring and creating 10 goals. He’s racked up 2305 minutes of football, created 38 chances, made 42 successful dribbles (40%), averaged 29 passes-per-game with 78% accuracy, made 28 tackles and has whipped in 79 crosses with 19% accuracy.
The 22-year-old was in fine form at the start of his debut season, contributing nine goals between August and November, but his form has spiralled ever since. in the last five months, Carvalho has scored only one goal and hasn’t made an assist. It’s led to him losing his place in the side, drawing the ire from supporters, but O’Neill was keen to remind fans that Aitor Karanka was the first to axe the midfielder.
He added: “I suppose I have to remind people, he wasn’t actually in the team when I arrived here first. He came on and scored a wonder goal which won the game for us against Hull City. Then he played (from the start) against Aston Villa, but it was a tough evening for a lot of us that day.
“He’s had little cameo roles at this minute. I expect him to be stronger for it next season in every aspect, and to be able to cope with the physicality during a 46-game campaign. He’s a talented player – and it’s something that may have been taken into consideration when he was signed, that he couldn’t have chosen a tougher league to get himself involved in.
“He had played a couple of times for Benfica before he came here. He’s a really nice, talented player. The physicality of this league is very, very strong – it’s not something that I think you should underplay. But he’ll be better for these experiences.
“He got concussion in the game against Blackburn and there’s a medical protocol we have to go through. But I think he’ll be alright for Monday. I’m hoping that whatever flashes he has shown here during the course of the season, that will become a regular and certainly a stronger element to his game for next year.”
Carvalho was ruled out of playing against Sheffield United due to concussion regulations, but he should return for Forest when they welcome Middlesbrough to the City Ground on Monday, April 22. The Reds have little other than pride to play for, but they’ll want to finish the season on a high note.