If you were forming a queue for contract talks at Nottingham Forest, where would Ben Osborn sit?

And play nice!

Somewhere in the middle?

Closer to the back than the front?

Divert him in the direction of the dinner queue instead?

Wrong, wrong, wrong… according to Reds legend Garry Birtles.

A European Cup-winning hero believes Osborn should be first through Martin O’Neill’s door this summer.

He has said in the Nottingham Post: “While Forest will be very glad to have Lolley tied down to a long-term contract, as protection against the interest that is sure to come in him, this summer, they need to get themselves in the same position with Osborn.

“His current deal expires at the end of next season but it is something that Forest, in an ideal world, need to sort out now.

“Other clubs will be looking at him. Stoke were apparently keen in January and that may not have gone away.

Contribution

(Photo by Alan Hayward/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“Just as the exciting, electric Lolley will rightly be heralded this summer, Forest need to make sure that players like Osborn feel valued and important as well.

“People underestimate the contribution players like him make but, trust me, the scale of his contribution would become obvious, if he was gone.”

A bold call.

Would Forest miss Osborn if he were no longer around?

Debatable.

The point Birtles is trying to make is valid enough.

A man who divides opinion like few others – the archetypal Marmite Man – ticks plenty of boxes.

He has, however, found himself stuck in the ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ department.

Birtles has added: “Osborn is certainly among those players who somehow manages to go under the radar, when it comes to what he brings to the table.

“His versatility will certainly make him a hugely valuable asset for Martin O’Neill.

“I am sure Ben will get frustrated at being played in different positions all of the time.

“You get the impression he would be happiest if he got the chance to play in his preferred midfield position, for a run of games.

“But his versatility is something to celebrate.”

Options

 

In some ways, yes.

In others, definitely not.

Do Forest already boast better options in midfield?

With another transfer window to come.

And at left-back, where Osborn has often struggled and further depth is obviously required?

Left wing-back, in the system which proved so productive against Middlesbrough, may be an option.

But again, are there more suitable options either on the books already or to be found elsewhere?

Forest need to be culling their numbers and working with quality options.

Osborn’s ability to slot into a number of different positions may well convince O’Neill that he is worth keeping around.

Fresh terms, though, may be a matter to discuss at a later date once it becomes clear in which direction both the club and player are heading in 2019-20.