Wolves vs Reading preview: The perfect chance to get back on track?
After a rare defeat but arguably a worst performance of the season, who would be your ideal next opponents?
Well a team that’s in freefall having won just one of 14 matches would be pretty high on the list.
Reading at home represents an ideal opportunity to get back on track as Wolves look to edge closer to promotion ahead of tough-looking away games at Leeds, Villa, Cardiff and Middlesbrough in the next month.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team selection has been fairly non-eventful of late (before Ruben Neves’ suspension he selected the same XI for five games in a row) but after such a lifeless performance he may freshen things up tomorrow.
Wolves stalwart and radio pundit Andy Thompson thinks Diogo Jota is very likely to be recalled.
“I think it’s the ideal game to bounce back,” he said.
“Reading are a team that’s struggling – they’ve been a bit better away from home but they ship goals.
“It’ll be interesting to see where Nuno goes with his team selection. You’d think Diogo Jota would come back in.
“He might go with the three quick lads – Jota, Ivan Cavaleiro and Diogo Costa – up front, they’re the tried and tested ones.
“I felt a bit sorry for Leo Bonatini at Fulham, with the way we played he struggled to get into the game.
“Benik Afobe is itching for a start and he’s probably got the best chance he’ll have to get into the side.
“Afobe gives you more power up front and the option to play in behind.”
Ex-defender Danny Higginbotham will be summarising the game on Sky Sports.
He told the Express & Star: “They haven’t won for three games and people might think it’s a crisis, but it really isn’t.
“When you have a defeat you can’t wait for the next game.
“The thing with Wolves is they’ve got so many match-winners.
“If they were relying on a 25-goal a season striker and he was suddenly out of form it’d be different, but they’ve got Cavaleiro, Jota, Costa, Afobe, Bonatini and Neves although of course he’s suspended for this one.
“That’s really important – they’re not reliant on one individual.
“I watched them against Sheffield United and it was one of the best Championship performances I’ve seen in recent times.
“As a player it’s about not looking too far ahead.
“It’s still completely in their hands, the beauty of it is they don’t have to rely on anyone slipping up.
“I think they’ll be fine. It’s a case of not panicking, they’re 10 points clear of third and the players have proved how good they are over many months.
“The gap to third is all that matters – yes the title would be nice but no one really remembers where the promoted teams finish and you all start on zero points in the Premier League next season.”
Wolves (3-4-3): John Ruddy; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, N'Diaye, Saiss, Douglas; Costa, Jota, Cavaleiro. Subs: Norris, Batth, Hause, Miranda, Gibbs-White, Afobe, Bonatini.
Reading (3-4-1-2): Mannone; Ilori, Moore, Van den Berg; Gunter, Bacuna, Clement, McCleary; Kelly; Martin, Bodvarsson.
Wolves: Romain Saiss – Wolves lacked control in midfield at Fulham last weekend and Romain Saiss’ influence will be crucial here in the absence of Ruben Neves.
Reading: Jon Dadi Bodvarsson – A striker Wolves fans know all about. Bodvarsson struggled for goals last season, netting just three times, but he’s scored nine in 27 for the Royals, albeit three of those were against Stevenage in the FA Cup. Wolves have struggled against physical strikers this season and Bodvarsson will be keen to prove a point.
Past five meetings
November 18, 2017 (Ch): Reading 0 Wolves 2 (Cavaleiro 16, Doherty 88)
March 4, 2017 (Ch): Reading 2 (Kermorgant 48, McShane 78) Wolves 1 (Marshall 50)
August 16, 2016 (Ch): Wolves 2 (Doherty 42, Mason 47) Reading 0
February 6, 2016 (Ch): Reading 0 Wolves 0
December 26, 2015 (Ch): Wolves 1 (Henry 18) Reading 0