Shropshire Star

Julen Lopetegui challenges his Wolves signings to fight for starting XI place

Julen Lopetegui has challenged his Wolves players to force their way into the team and not be satisfied with a seat on the bench.


After making six signings in the January transfer window, Wolves’ squad is looking much healthier across the board as they battle to survive relegation.

Lopetegui was keen to add leadership, experience and competition to his side and is now pleased with the outcome of the window – and is encouraging his players to be unhappy with a spot among the substitutes.

The head coach said: “I don’t want any players that are happy on the bench!

“Of course, when they are on the bench they have to support their team-mates and respect all the decisions, but in the week they have to show that they are not happy and work very hard. One way that I know a player can change the opinion of a coach, is by working very hard.

“Not by messaging his friends, or making a message in the media, this is about the daily work and only this.”

As part of this mission to increase the competition, goalkeeper Dan Bentley was brought in as Matija Sarkic left for Stoke on loan.

The 29-year-old was club captain at Bristol City and Lopetegui believes his addition will be key – as well as adding to the ‘culture’ he is trying to build.

When asked why Bentley came in and why Sarkic was allowed to leave, Lopetegui added: “The reason is because we want to improve every position. He is an experienced player in the Championship but he knows English football. I think he has a good character to help us in the dressing room too, which I think is an important thing.

“We have to have this kind of culture in the dressing room. This is an English team, in England, and we need this.

“We have a lot of players from a lot of countries but it’s a good thing to have players that can involve other players in the real culture of England.”

Meanwhile, Lopetegui hopes to get the best out of his ‘very rounded’ midfielders.

The captures of Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes add some steel to the squad, but the head coach insists it was not only about adding physicality.

He said: “It’s not only about their physical condition. In the Premier League you need very rounded players, not only physically, but technically and tactically. To be strong physically is important in the Premier League.

“Good players can play in different positions. Joao is a good player and we are knowing him more and he is knowing more about us.

“We are going to decide where he is going to play, but he has the strengths to play there (as a number six).”