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Nuno expects tough clash for Wolves at empty Molineux

By Joe Edwards | Wolves | Published:

After restarting with a top win at West Ham, Wolves are aiming to keep up the momentum at a much-different Molineux.

Nuno Espirito Santo has everyone available (PA)

Tonight’s clash with Bournemouth is their first at home since March 7 – which seems a lifetime ago.

There will be no fans present, of course, but Nuno Espirito Santo, who insists the supporters are ‘irreplaceable’, will have been buoyed by how his players coped at the London Stadium.

In beating the Hammers, they kept up a record of gaining maximum points against the current bottom four sides so far this term.

Conversely, Wolves dropped points to Huddersfield, Fulham and Cardiff last campaign.

But when asked about the improvement and possibly keeping that streak going against the Cherries, Nuno said: “It doesn’t have to do with the table.

“It’s not the way we look at things. It’s an opponent.

“No matter what the table tells you, there’s quality all over the place in the Premier League.

“This is going to be the same as Bournemouth is a team full of quality and talent.

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“We expect a very tough challenge, so we don’t measure ourselves by the table.

“We’ve been able to sustain our levels, and that allows you to go through the games.”

While there will not be any fans at Molineux, the stadium will be draped in various banners and flags, including a mosaic which will cover the South Bank.

Despite all the change, Wolves are sticking to their usual pre-home match routine – which would usually see them sleep at a hotel the night before – as much as they possibly can, too.

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Nuno explained: “Normally, our routine is we sleep the night before in the hotel.

“We’re not going to do it for obvious reasons, but we’ll be together at the facility during the day for a meal and some rest.

“We want to make it as close as possible, but it’s difficult and it requires imagination and a lot of dedication from the medical department – with all the PPE.”

Nuno also lifted the lid on how training has changed due to the pandemic.

Pedro Neto could start the clash (PA)

“The protocols we have to follow are really strict and require a lot of determination and patience,” he said.

“We have to follow those to prepare ourselves and train well.

“For example, we’re using the dome (Compton’s academy building) as we cannot use our gym. We use the dome as it is a big area, with all the machines and equipment split all over the place.

“We don’t eat together, all the moments of socialisation have been interrupted.

“We’re using two buses. Even for a trip of 10 minutes, we have to use two buses (to get to the stadium).

“It’s hard, so you have to be really strong and confident that better times are in front of us. That enables you to proceed and keep following what you want.”

Nuno has a full squad available, with Adama Traore and Pedro Neto pushing for starts after their huge contributions off the bench at West Ham.

On having plenty of options, he added: “We have a small squad, but it’s full of talent and quality.

“Even if you don’t start, the way you help the team can be fantastic. You have to take your chances when they come

“I’m happy to say we have a lot of options.”

Memory Lane

December 15, 2018

Wolves would happily to take a repeat of the last time they welcomed the Cherries to Molineux.

Raul Jimenez put Nuno’s side ahead just 12 minutes in, tapping in Diogo Jota’s low cross, with Ivan Cavaleiro rubber-stamping the win with a late strike on the counter – in front of 30,997.

Raul Jimenez would love to score against Bournemouth again (AMA)

Let’s see if Wolves can come up with something similar in their first home game behind-closed-doors.

Key Battle

Conor Coady v Callum Wilson

Bournemouth have struggled for goals this season, scoring only 29 times in their 30 Premier League games.

Wilson, though, has still managed a decent goal tally of nine.

He is likely to be leading the line, and it is up to Wolves skipper Coady – who was ever so vocal at West Ham – to stop him from getting into double figures tonight.

Predicted Wolves XI

(3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Neto

Subs: Ruddy (gk), Kilman, Buur, Vinagre, Dendoncker, Jordao, Gibbs-White, Jota, Podence

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @JoeEdwards_Star

Wolves fan turned Wolves correspondent for the Express & Star.

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