Wolves’ international stars return happy with their work

A raft of Wolves stars have returned to Compton after a largely successful round of international games.

Vitinha had a productive few games with Portugal Under-21s and will hope to get the chance to play more for Wolves (AMA)
Vitinha had a productive few games with Portugal Under-21s and will hope to get the chance to play more for Wolves (AMA)

Eleven players were called up by their countries, while star striker Raul Jimenez also enjoyed a productive training camp with Mexico as he continues his recovery from a fractured skull.

Among the big winners from the matches was Vitinha.

Although yet to feature much for Wolves, the Porto loanee was instrumental as Portugal Under-21s won all three of their group games in the European Championship to advance to May’s quarter-finals.

The creative midfielder put in a man-of-the-match display against Croatia, shone against England and started their 3-0 victory over Switzerland – setting up Diogo Queiros for the opening goal to wrap up a fine week’s work.

He will now hope to have more of an opportunity in Wolves’ last nine games in the Premier League, in his bid to earn a permanent deal at Molineux.

With the Portugal senior team, Pedro Neto boosted his chances of making the squad for this summer’s Euros.

He started their 1-0 triumph over Azerbaijan before playing an important role off the bench against Luxembourg.

Having surprisingly been 1-0 down, Neto came on late in the first half and had an instant impact as his cross was headed home by former Wolves team-mate Diogo Jota.

Neto later whipped in a corner which was nodded in by Joao Palhinha as Portugal eventually ran out 3-1 victors.

Ruben Neves started both of those wins, too, with his ball into the box leading to an own goal from Maksim Medvedev in the Azerbaijan victory.

Joao Moutinho, meanwhile, only featured in one of their three matches having suffered a slight knock.

Conor Coady got another England cap (PA)

Defensive duo Willy Boly and Romain Saiss helped seal spots in the Africa Cup of Nations for Ivory Coast and Morocco respectively. Having switched allegiances to the Ivory Coast last year, former French youth international Boly got his first goal for the country.

His header opened the scoring in a 3-1 victory over Ethiopia, clinching top spot in their qualifying group.

Boly, interestingly, is yet to endure a defeat for Ivory Coast, having picked up three wins and a draw so far.

Saiss skippered Morocco to a 1-0 victory over Burundi in their final qualifier, to also top their group.

It means Wolves could be without both centre-halves for a chunk of next season, with the delayed tournament set to take place during January and February of 2022.

Back in Europe, Conor Coady finished the game wearing the captain’s armband as England breezed past San Marino before being an unused substitute for their victories over Albania and Poland.

Leander Dendoncker featured in all three of Belgium’s games – starting in midfield as the Red Devils beat Wales and drew with Czech Republic, and coming on in defence in the 8-0 thrashing of Belarus.

For Canada, youngster Theo Corbeanu enjoyed a dream debut as he scored just four minutes after being introduced as a substitute in a 5-1 win against Bermuda.

The 18-year-old forward – yet to play for Wolves’ first team – then impressed in an 11-0 demolition job of the Cayman Islands.

Fellow academy product Owen Otasowie did not feature in either of the United States’ wins over Jamaica or Northern Ireland, while Lewis Richards was also an unused substitute as the Republic of Ireland Under-21s beat Wales 2-1 in friendly action.

Finally, Jimenez was able to link up with Mexico ahead of their 1-0 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

The 29-year-old spent the week training with Tata Martino’s side as he carries on making good progress and targets playing again before the end of the season.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo says the time away with his country was 'good' for Jimenez and that all the signs are 'positive' while they treat the situation with great caution.

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