Leeds v Wolves preview: Bruno Lage looking to extend Wolves’ charge up table

Momentum is key in football and Wolves are currently riding the crest of a wave.

Bruno Lage (Getty)
Bruno Lage (Getty)

For all the debate on performances – and Wolves have certainly not been at their best recently – results are paramount and Bruno Lage is finding a way to get victories.

It is now four wins in five and three in a row after the dramatic but all-important 3-2 fightback at Villa last week.

Not only do Wolves have momentum in their results – as they top the Premier League form chart – but a comeback like the one at Villa Park should spark incredible confidence among the squad.

Speaking after the Villa result, Lage said: “If you look at just one game it’s a special day, but you have to look at what’s happened since the beginning.

“When you have those three games, with three good performance and no points, and then after the international break of four games we won three.

“Also we had a good performance against Tottenham in the League Cup. If you put it all together, of course this is a good moment for me, the players and for the fans.

“We’ve now had three victories (in a row) and four in five games. It’s what we want.

“We want to play well and win.”

However, they now have to make that count against a struggling Leeds side hit with injuries.

Arriving at a hostile Elland Road, Lage has some decisions to make.

Raul Jimenez should surely be a shoo-in to return to the team after he was rested last week following his exploits with the Mexican national team, while Francisco Trincao is expected to return to the squad after he came back into training on the completion of his Covid-19 isolation period.

Lage seems fond of Trincao and the Barcelona loanee has had some good moments in a Wolves shirt, but with the competition for places fierce among the forwards, it seems likely that others are just ahead of him in the pecking order for a starting spot. Hwang Hee-chan has impressed since he signed, but had a poor showing at Villa. Perhaps he is due a rest, but with Jimenez likely to return Lage may want to re-ignite their partnership.

Adama Traore, meanwhile, looked sharp at the weekend and had a hand in the goals that sparked the comeback. Daniel Podence, too, had a wonderful 15-minute cameo that was instrumental in Wolves getting back into that game.

The wide areas will be key in tomorrow’s clash with Leeds, as both sides hold attacking threat on the flanks.

Dan James and Raphinha are lighting quick for the hosts, while whichever combination Lage chooses out wide has bags of talent.

In this writer’s opinion, it may be time to start Podence. His substitute displays have warranted an opportunity and when he is on the ball, he creates chances.

Equally, having Traore on the other flank offers Wolves a counter-attacking option that could cover all bases and give the side a two-pronged attack for a tough away day.

Opposition view

Kalvin Phillips will not be rushed back into action by Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa following the midfielder's recovery from injury.

Phillips withdrew from the England squad for their recent World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and Hungary after suffering a calf problem in his club side's Premier League win over Watford.

The 25-year-old also missed the 1-0 defeat at Southampton which left Leeds 17th in the table with just one win from their first eight games of the season.

"Kalvin is healthy but has not competed for three weeks and if he played on Saturday it would be far too quick," Bielsa said ahead of the Whites' game against Wolves at Elland Road.

"After three weeks out is necessary for him to have some more football training and in this stage he has done training sessions for recovery and physical preparation.

"I think that to think of him for Saturday would be to bring him back too soon before he is back at his best."

Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford, Junior Firpo and Robin Koch also remain sidelined, but Raphinha is available to face Wolves after "acclimatising" on his return to England following his starring role in Brazil's 4-1 win over Uruguay.

Bielsa admits the manner of the defeat at Southampton means this week has been one of the most challenging of his time at Leeds, who finished ninth on their return to the Premier League last season.

"There have been five or six, but this has been one of the most difficult," he added. "The complexity of the week prior to a game is dependent on how far away we were in the last game.

"The Southampton game, the distance between what we were playing for and what we achieved was very far, and that (the defeat) was deserved. For me it is a very sad week.

"In a parallel way, I know the errors that we made, I know those errors could have been avoided if I managed it more efficiently so I have a lot of energy, strength and willingness to avoid what happened in that game happening again."

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