Joao Carvalho was an unused substitute against Derby County on Monday – the sixth time in eight games that he’s failed to come off the bench. A regular under Aitor Karanka, the 21-year-old has amassed only 37 minutes of Championship football under Martin O’Neill and his poor defensive attributes may be to blame.
O’Neill likes midfielders of substance who retain possession, keep things simple on the ball and are adept at snuffing out danger. He doesn’t like risk-takers who frequently vacate their position and make decisions with a low percentage chance of working. Carvalho is a luxury player and exactly the opposite of what O’Neill wants in Nottingham Forest’s engine room.
Since joining for £13m from Benfica last summer, the Portuguese u21 international has contributed nine goals in 28 Championship games. He’s gone of the boil of late, however, failing to score or create a goal since November 2018. O’Neill can’t afford to have a misfiring luxury player in the starting lineup, so the midfielder has been dropped for the foreseeable future.
Carvalho had played in 26 consecutive league games before he was given the axe, but he may face difficultly in returning to the starting eleven as O’Neill is unlikely to change a winning side.