With Chris Hughton undoubtedly hoping to get Nottingham Forest’s season off to a better start than their previous Championship campaign – when the club lost their opening four fixtures – the 62-year-old faces a number of tough decisions regarding his squad selection ahead of the trip to Coventry City on Sunday.
Perhaps the position which will give the Reds manager the biggest headache is attacking midfield, with Hughton needing to decide between the club’s £13.5m signing Joao Carvalho and 20-year-old Brennan Johnson as to who should start this afternoon.
However, considering the contrasting form of the two players last term, as well as in pre-season, there would only appear to be one logical choice to us.
Over his 43 League One appearances while on loan at Lincoln City last time out, the £360k-rated Johnson highly impressed for Michael Appleton’s side, scoring 11 goals, providing 12 assists and creating four big chances for his teammates, taking 2.3 shots and making 0.7 key passes per game.
These returns saw the man who Sabri Lamouchi dubbed an “unbelievable” player earn a seasonal SofaScore match rating of 6.98, ranking the £2.5k-per-week man as the Imps’ sixth-best performer in the third tier of English football.
Meanwhile, it was a rather different story for the £2.7m-rated Carvalho last term, with the forward failing to impress over his 32 LaLiga2 fixtures while on loan at Almeria, failing to score, registering just three assists and missing three big chances, taking 0.8 shots and making 1.1 key passes per game.
Who should start against Coventry?
As such, it would seem highly advisable for Hughton to unleash Johnson in the trip to Coventry this Sunday, as not only does the 20-year-old have a much higher ceiling than the former Portugal under-21 international, the argument can easily be made that he is already a better player than Carvalho.