Shropshire Star

Gary O'Neil explains his tough decision to drop Wolves midfielder

Wolves boss Gary O'Neil has revealed how 'incredibly tough' it has been to drop Tommy Doyle, but says the midfielder is right in the mix to earn his spot back.


The 22-year-old starred for Wolves over a spell of games in the New Year, but has lost his place in the last three games after Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes were available to renew their partnership.

Although Doyle is now fighting for a way back in, O'Neil insists the 22-year-old has proven he is good enough at this level.

"It was an incredibly tough chat with Tommy," O'Neil said.

"To leave somebody out who has performed that well is never an easy conversation to have.

"The way Tommy is, he's a great guy and has been unbelievable around the place for the culture and what we're trying to set here. The way he is every day is really refreshing.

"It took him a long time to force his way in and there was never any disappointment shown, he was always ready to work with a smile.

"Previously, it was regularly Joao and Mario and Tommy was considered behind them. The way he has performed has closed that gap massively and I now have a really tough decision to make around which two it is or whether we try to get all three in.

"That's credit to Tommy, because Mario and Joao have performed at such a high level. For Tommy to have put as much pressure on them as he has, is a real credit to him.

"It's never nice to leave someone out, especially one that has done so well, is such a good guy and works so hard, but he took it extremely well."

Since coming back into the team, Gomes has particularly shone in wins over Chelsea and Spurs.

O'Neil maintains that the midfielder still has work to do, but has backed him to reach the very top of the game.

He added: "I love Joao Gomes to bits. He's still got lots of learning to do but attribute-wise he has pretty much everything you'd want in a tenacious ball-winning midfielder.

"We're trying to tidy up some little bits. Sometimes his passing or care on the ball can improve.

"Hopefully we can get him right to the top of the game, but hopefully that means he's still with us at that point.

"He's still very young and I'm sure there will be ups and downs with him. It wasn't too long ago that we took him out the team to give him a break and freshen it up.

"It's important there's not too much expectation on him for a young lad, but I'm delighted with where he is.

"Having Mario next to him, an experienced one, has really helped him."