Liam Bridcutt has made himself quietly indispensable since moving to Nottingham Forest from Leeds United. Though his impact was only really made clear for the first time as Mark Warburton’s side were comfortably dispatched by Cardiff City on Sunday.
After picking up five yellow cards this season, the combative Bridcutt was absent as Cardiff cruised to a 2-0 win at the City Ground. But it’s this willingness to do the dirty work that Forest badly missed as Forest extended their winless home run against the Bluebirds to five years.
While David Vaughan did a good job against Neil Warnock’s high-flyers, Ben Osborn and Kieran Dowell were simply far too lightweight against a workmanlike and well-organised Cardiff midfield.
And while Bridcutt is not the most expansive or technical of players, he is solid rather than spectacular and provides that muscle and presence in the centre of the park that Forest were missing.
It’s a shame, however, that Bridcutt’s influence is only now being felt in a game in which he did not feature. The midfielder was a little underrated at former club Leeds United too but, with his energy and tenacity in midfield, you wonder if Thomas Christiansen’s side would have collapsed so alarmingly in the last two months.
It isn't just who Forest have belatedly discovered just how essential Bridcutt can be, it appears that Leeds too are paying the price for not quite realising just how indispensible their former captain was. Leeds decision to let him go for just £1 million, per the Nottingham Post, doesn't look a particularly good one in hindsight.
Leeds defence has looked alarmingly vulnerable in recent weeks during a disastrous run of seven defeats in nine Championship games. And part of the problem has been a lack of protection from midfield with Eunan O'Kane and Kalvin Phillips far from naturally holding midfielders.