Nottingham Forest manager Martin O’Neill may be tempted to give Diogo Gonçalves a rare start tonight against West Bromwich Albion.
The 22-year-old winger has only made eight appearances for the Reds. The vast majority of these have come as a substitute. He’ll be hoping he can make a much bigger impact between now and the end of the season.
Tonight’s game against West Brom could provide him with the perfect platform to build on. BBC Radio Nottingham revealed that Matty Cash is a major doubt ahead of the trip to the Hawthorns. Surely Gonçalves will be the next in line to replace Cash in the starting line-up?
The Portuguese Under-21 international made his first appearance under O’Neill in the win against Brentford at the weekend. He replaced Léo Bonatini at half-time. Gonçalves did make an impact and was unlucky not to get himself on the scoresheet after he rounded Daniel Bentley.
In short, there’s never been any doubt that Gonçalves has potential. He’s just not really been given a chance to show it. After being included in the starting line-up against Bristol City on the opening day of the season, the winger made just five further appearances under Aitor Karanka.
If he is given a chance tonight, he has to make sure he grabs it with both hands.
Gonçalves linked with early return last month
Due to his lack of opportunities at the City Ground, Gonçalves was linked with an early return to parent club Benfica last month. According to A BOLA, the Premeira Liga side were considering the option of finding him a new club.
Gonçalves’ arrival at the club was overshadowed by the fact he joined alongside £13 million club record signing João Carvalho. There’s no doubt Carvalho has made the bigger impact. Although, at present, it’s Gonçalves who seems to be closer to breaking into O’Neill’s side.
O’Neill’s selections so far have suggested that he prefers to select experienced players. However, due to the lack of wingers in the squad, Gonçalves seems the only viable option to replace Cash.
There’s only one other obvious way round it. O’Neill may opt to move Joe Lolley over to the right-hand side and play Ben Osborn on the left. Although this has been done in the past, it’s fair to say Lolley is far more effective on the left. Gonçalves is also a recognised winger which Osborn simply isn’t.
In conclusion, Gonçalves’ chances of being named in the starting line-up won’t come much bigger than tonight. If he still can’t make the team, he has every right to be frustrated. He’ll be hoping he is given the opportunity to show the Reds what they’ve been missing out on.