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Dave Edwards: Big decisions to make as Wolves unveil new shape

The big takeaway from Wolves’ pre-season is the change of shape we’re set to see for this coming campaign.

Nathan Collins and Max Kilman appear favourites to start at centre-back this weekend, while left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri has relished his attacking role
Nathan Collins and Max Kilman appear favourites to start at centre-back this weekend, while left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri has relished his attacking role

The three at the back, which has served them so well over the last four or five years, has definitely been ditched. I would be so surprised if they flipped back at Leeds having not played it all through pre-season.

There are a lot of centre-back options with some big decisions to make in a new back four. It looks like Max Kilman and Nathan Collins are going to be the central two, which means huge decisions like leaving out Conor Coady and Willy Boly too. When you add in Toti Gomes and Yerson Mosquera there are a lot of options for Bruno Lage. I feel they’ve looked very good in that system.

Attacking-wise it suits the side, because Ait-Nouri – who’s been excellent going forward and defensively – and Jonny and Semedo on the other side will push really high, allowing the centre-backs to split and Ruben Neves drops perfectly into that quarter-back role.

I’m such a big fan of Ruben as any regular reader will know and it looks like Wolves are going to keep hold of him. He will dictate games and tempo from that role.

He will drop in, we’ll likely see Moutinho and Dendoncker more advanced, although Joao could drop next to Neves and then we could see a Podence, or somebody else, as an attacking No.10.

I really like the shape, the movement it can cause in the front four really helps, with the full-backs pushing on.

I’ve seen quite a bit of the pre-season games and there have been some stand-out performers.

Neves has been good, Kilman was very good – including his wonder-goal – but the most exciting part for me is how those attacking positions will work together.

Morgan Gibbs-White has come back and it looks like it could be his year. I don’t think Wolves will want to sell him, it’d be such a shame having put in so much academy work with him, to all of a sudden be worth £25million-£30million.

For Morgan to sign a new deal he will have to play every week. I think he’ll fly at the start of this season and be a real surprise package in the Premier League.

There is Pedro Neto as well, I know he came back towards the end of last season but he feels a bit like a new signing. He is very direct and gives you those legs in behind.

It feels like things are there for Wolves to have a good season, but Raul Jimenez will be an obvious big miss for however long he’s out for.

Having let Fabio Silva go, the forward positions have to be an area Wolves look at. They need a No.9 and another midfielder to push for a place. I don’t think the money is there. It looks like it is sell to buy, and nobody wants than to be Ruben. Others, like Traore, are still up in the air.

If you’d have told me at the end of last season there would only be one addition and it was Nathan Collins then I’d be worried, but I’ve been encouraged by everything coming out of Wolves’ pre-season.

A big thing could be keeping players happy, especially at the back. Coady will never kick up a fuss but he will be disappointed. It’s a World Cup year for him, he needs to be playing.

If they don’t get those couple of reinforcements then they are a couple of injuries away from a disaster.

They played well despite losing a tough first three games last year. It’s a bit of a kinder start this time around, but an opening day at Elland Road will always be tough. I’d back Wolves to handle that pressure with the experience there is in the side.

It would be wonderful for three points to start with to get Bruno’s boys up and running.

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