Nottingham Forest left-back Jack Robinson is back available for selection this weekend against Ipswich Town.
The 25-year-old has now seen out his two-game suspension for picking up his tenth booking of the season against Stoke City.
It’s a timely boost for Martin O’Neill after the Reds struggled to deal with Aston Villa‘s attacking threat in midweek. The likes of Jack Grealish and John McGinn in particular, caused all sorts of problems.
This defensive vulnerability did come as somewhat of a surprise considering the Reds had kept three clean sheets in their previous four matches. They looked far from the solid outfit that comfortably dispatched Hull City just a couple of days prior.
It remains to be seen whether Robinson is immediately reinstated to the starting line-up. Although, it’s fair to say it would be a huge surprise if this wasn’t the case. He’s the only natural left-back at O’Neill’s disposal.
Osborn could move back into midfield
Ben Osborn has been filling in for Robinson whilst he has been serving out his suspension.
Although he produced one of his best performances at left-back against Hull, he was exposed on numerous occasions in midweek. He was caught out of position for McGinn’s first goal which ultimately allowed the midfielder to comfortably beat Jack Colback before firing a low shot into the back of the net.
It’s fair to say that is less likely to have happened had Robinson been operating at left-back. He’s been consistent throughout the entire season, even when he was asked to fill in at centre-back.
As Robinson is likely to return to his usual spot, Osborn may be utilised elsewhere by O’Neill. He could take João Carvalho’s place in the starting line-up on the left-hand side, offering support to Joe Lolley and potentially Daryl Murphy.
If he isn’t utilised on the left-hand side, then he’ll have to settle for a place on the bench. It’s extremely unlikely that O’Neill will find a spot for him in central midfield.
There’s no doubt that Robinson’s return is a timely boost, no matter what the starting line-up is this weekend. His natural ability at left-back makes the Reds more balanced in defence, whilst adding another dimension of attacking threat.
O’Neill will be hoping his return can help his side bounce back and get back to winning ways.