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West Ham v Wolves: Bruno Lage faces a big call at the back

On Wolves’ return to Premier League action, Bruno Lage has an important decision to make.

Toti Gomes (Getty)
Toti Gomes (Getty)

With the disappointing start to the season, every call that Lage makes could be crucial as Wolves look to get their campaign back on track.

Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to West Ham, who have had an equally poor start, Lage’s big decision rests on his centre-back selection.

Nathan Collins’ straight red card against Manchester City leaves him suspended for three games – starting at the London Stadium.

Ironically, West Ham pulled the plug on Wolves’ move for Craig Dawson on transfer deadline day, while the club moved on from their move for free agent target Jason Denayer, meaning inexperienced duo Toti Gomes and Yerson Mosquera were left as the only back-ups to Collins and Max Kilman.

Now, one of them must come in at a crucial moment when Wolves need a result. Although the left-footed Gomes is not a like-for-like Collins replacement, he currently seems more likely to come in as Lage knows he can trust the 23-year-old.

His unexpected return from loan in January saw him impress in a handful of performances before the end of the season as he was thrown into Premier League action at the deep end.

On the other hand, Mosquera is yet to feature in the top flight and is a raw talent. Gomes coming in would likely mean Kilman moves to the right of the defensive pair. He dominated on the right of the back three for large parts of last season and is familiar with playing that role.

In reality, there is no perfect decision for Lage, but Gomes is the safer choice. Lage also has a decision to make on Diego Costa, who could be fit enough to have some impact from the bench at least.

During the international break, Collins did enjoy more football with varying results for the Republic of Ireland. The Wolves defender played 90 minutes in both Nations League clashes with Scotland and Armenia and was utilised as the right-sided centre-back in a back three formation. A 2-1 loss to Scotland and a 3-2 win over Armenia saw them finish third in their group.

Wolves’ Portuguese contingent also had contrasting fortunes for their national team. Ruben Neves started the 4-0 win over Czech Republic, playing 90 minutes, and the 1-0 loss to Spain, where he came off in the 89th minute. Matheus Nunes was an unused substitute in the Spain game but did come on in the 77th minute against Czech Republic. Goalkeeper Jose Sa made the bench for both games but did not play, while Pedro Neto did not make the squad against Spain and was an unused substitute against Czech Republic.

Hwang Hee-chan started for South Korea in both of their friendlies and scored in the 2-2 draw with Costa Rica, while goalkeeper Matija Sarkic made the bench for both of Montenegro’s games. Raul Jimenez travelled with Mexico but did not play as he recovers from a groin injury.

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