Nottingham Forest winger Joe Lolley has been directly involved in 15 goals in the Championship this season. 

The 26-year-old has been back to his best recently under the management of Martin O’Neill.

There’s no doubt that when the winger is in the mood, it makes the Reds a very difficult team to play against. But the issue arises when he isn’t at his best.

This hasn’t been more evident than it was against Stoke at the weekend.

The Potters were able to neutralise the winger throughout the match, ensuring he never really looked like producing anything.

Once Lolley’s threat had been taken out of the equation, the Reds seemingly had very little else to offer in an attacking sense.

It’s something that Martin O’Neill needs to consider moving forward.

Who’s going to provide that moment of magic when it isn’t Lolley’s day?

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

Creative spark

There’s no doubt that the importance of the winger has become even more evident in recent weeks, especially away from home.

The Reds have failed to score in seven of their last nine games away from the City Ground.

 

With Lewis Grabban currently struggling through injury, the goalscoring burden seems to have been placed firmly on Lolley’s shoulders.

Daryl Murphy has done a good job but can’t possibly keep up with the demands of the Championship at his age, whilst Karim Ansarifard and Léo Bonatini are yet to be fully unleashed.

Once Grabban has returned, the pressure on Lolley should be somewhat reduced. But for the time being, he remains the biggest threat the Reds have in the final third.

(Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)

Key man

It’s important for any side in the Championship to have that one player who is capable of changing a game.

To have a player capable of producing a moment of magic and turning a goalless stalemate into a narrow win is vital. Especially towards the top end of the division.

This is something that João Carvalho was able to produce regularly for the Reds under Aitor Karanka. But he simply doesn’t seem to be fancied by the new management team.

Introducing a midfield trio of Jack Colback, Ben Watson and Ryan Yates has solidified the Reds, but at the same time has taken away their creative spark.

It isn’t unusual for a side to be particularly reliant on one particular player.

For example, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish have both been missed by Derby County and Aston Villa respectively when they’ve been either out of the side or under-performing this season.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

However, it’s important for other players to step up to the plate when the key men can’t.

This is something that needs to happen at the City Ground if the Reds are to secure an unlikely play-off spot.