Wolves boss Nuno prepared for another big battle

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo says all Wolves’ games against Burnley in the past have been ‘very difficult’ – and he expects nothing else this evening.

Nuno is expecting a very demanding battle against Burnley (AMA)
Nuno is expecting a very demanding battle against Burnley (AMA)

After getting back to winning ways against Everton, the onus for Wolves is on picking up another positive result in the race for European football.

With Manchester City’s successful appeal against a two-year Uefa ban, that race has been made even tighter, too.

Wolves are in a strong position in sixth – Champions League not yet out of reach, although Europa League seems more realistic – but the Clarets are not yet out of the hunt either.

Thanks to a five-game unbeaten run, despite Sean Dyche having well-documented injury and contract issues among his squad, they sit five points behind Nuno’s men, in 10th.

They have also kept a whopping 14 clean sheets in the Premier League this term.

And when asked about the Clarets ahead of the trip to Turf Moor, where Wolves have not won since 2010, Nuno said: “It’s always tough. Burnley are a very good team.

“Sean knows the team, has been at the club for a long time.

“It’s very, very difficult to go to Burnley. All the games that we have had against Burnley have always been very tough – very demanding.

“They’re a very good team, and this is going to be a challenge for us.”

Nuno has a couple of selection headaches going into the encounter.

Having given Joao Moutinho – who has played 57 games for club and country this term, the most of anyone in Europe – a rest against Everton, Leander Dendoncker impressed in midfield.

The rangy Belgian even got on the scoresheet and may be seen as a good fit alongside Ruben Neves again, especially considering how physical Burnley can be.

On the decision to shake things up in midfield, Nuno said: “We decided to go with Ruben and Leander against Everton, some changes we made that I think were good.

“It’s up to us to decide well for Burnley, and we know that every game requires a different approach.”

Daniel Podence will be hoping to be in the Wolves starting XI once more (AMA)

In attack, Daniel Podence made his case to start again with a hugely impressive full league bow this past weekend.

The £17million January signing won the penalty which Raul Jimenez scored to break the deadlock and was voted the man of the match.

Diogo Jota also ended his barren run in front of goal by thumping one in as a sub.

Pedro Neto caught the eye on the wing, setting up Dendoncker’s header, as well, but is not at 100 per cent having suffered ‘strong cramp’ against Carlo Ancelotti’s outfit.

The Wolves chief confirmed he will be assessed ahead of the game, having trained with fitness coach Antonio Dias yesterday.

On the whole, this is a massive game for Nuno – but, as ever, they will not be distracted by Champions League talk.

“We’re not reading into that,” added Nuno.

“It’s something that is not our focus. Our focus is to prepare and compete well game-by-game, and then see what happens.

“We’re highly motivated and highly focused on competing well.

“We have so many things still to do. The future is there, but let’s prepare for the present.”

Predicted Wolves XI

(3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Otto; Podence, Jimenez, Jota

Subs: Ruddy (gk), Kilman, Buur, Vinagre, Moutinho, Jordao, Gibbs-White, Neto, Traore

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