Less than four minutes is all it took for Joao Carvalho to make a telling contribution on his most recent outing for Nottingham Forest.

Summoned from the bench in the 68th minute of a meeting with Hull City, by the 72nd he had found the target.

And how.

The Reds had been knocking on the door against in-form opponents, but needed somebody to kick it down.

Step forward the man with the £13 million price tag.

The one who has generated more discussion over recent weeks than the rest of his team-mates combined?

Why isn’t he playing?

Will he stay?

When will he get a chance?

Well, he got one on Saturday and grabbed hold of it with both hands.

The cries of ‘I told you so’ were almost deafening as those in the stands and across social media rose to salute a stunning strike.

Battle

(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

This was, though, one goal in one game.

When Forest return to the City Ground against Aston Villa on Wednesday, what role will Carvalho play?

Could he make the starting XI?

Should he?

A meeting with another fellow play-off hopeful has taken on even greater importance on the back of a 3-0 victory over Hull.

Forest need to emerge victorious in another battle if they are to ultimately win the war.

Is Carvalho ready to go into the trenches?

Martin O’Neill continues to suggest that he will favour the Portuguese in an impact role.

His showing at the weekend proved what he is capable of, on his birthday no less.

He is now 22 years of age and getting ever more accustomed to the demands of life in English football.

There are still lessons to be learned though.

Confidence

 

O’Neill has said in the Nottingham Post: “He will be a miles better player when he is used to the physicality of this league.

“It is very strong and he admits that himself. He has some lovely touches, of course, and it was a really, really great goal.

“That was the spark we needed and he provided it. We are delighted with him and I think he is delighted with himself. That will give him a massive boost of confidence as well.”

When will Carvalho be ‘a miles better player’?

This season?

Next?

O’Neill is right to suggest that a creative influence still needs to adjust his game to meet the demands of his surroundings.

For the most part, the right approach has been taken with a mercurial talent.

Just because Carvalho may be the most technically-gifted does not mean that he should be the first name on the team sheet.

He has, however, delivered another timely reminder of what he is capable of.

And that bodes well for whenever his undoubted potential is considered to have been fully unlocked.