Wolves player of the season: The contenders

Voting has opened for the Wolves player of the season award – and in contrast to recent years there are a number of contenders.

Clockwise from top left; Diogo Jota, Conor Coady, Barry Douglas, Willy Boly, Ruben Neves and Matt Doherty
Clockwise from top left; Diogo Jota, Conor Coady, Barry Douglas, Willy Boly, Ruben Neves and Matt Doherty

In fact it’s difficult to even narrow the players down to six. Ivan Cavaleiro would be a dead cert in almost any other season but somehow doesn’t make the cut.

John Ruddy is in the Championship team of the season but not in this list, while Leo Bonatini’s crucial goals, Ryan Bennett’s consistent performances and Romain Saiss’s huge improvement aren’t enough for them to make it either.

Wolves correspondent Tim Spiers whittles the list to six – and picks his top three.

Conor Coady

Coady has been a revelation for Wolves (© AMA / James Baylis)

Whichever way you look at it he’s had an absolutely outstanding campaign.

Nuno Espirito Santo quickly identified that Coady had the necessary qualities to play the sweeper role. From the first game of pre-season onwards it looked like a masterstroke...and that's how it's proved.

What a journey he's been on in his three years at Wolves.

In 2015/16 he couldn’t quite nail down that midfield spot, last season he performed admirably out of position at right-back and this year he’s evolved into an assured centre-half being talked of as a future England international. That’s some progression.

You can count the number of glaring errors he’s made on one hand and with Danny Batth out the team he’s made the captaincy role his own.

The heartbeat of the team.

Defining moment: Goalline clearances are usually Coady's speciality but this time he was 10 yards from goal when he took a powerful shot full in the chest in the 96th minute of Wolves' epic 2-1 win at Middlesbrough. The epitome of courage.

Willy Boly

Boly celebrates his goal in a 3-0 win at Leeds (© AMA / Sam Bagnall)

Strikers fear him, Wolves love him.

'The Wall' has made defending look easy for most of the season in what’s been a campaign of endless blocks, tackles and interceptions from the big Frenchman.

The style with which he brings the ball out from the back is extremely rare at this level and he has absolutely no problem with the physical nature of the Championship.

A quiet man off the field who keeps himself to himself, but on it he's a beast who should step up to the Premier League with relative ease should Wolves go up and sign him permanently, which they surely have to.

Defining moment: In Wolves' second game of the season he casually flicked the ball over a Derby's player's head to start an attack which almost ended with a goal of the season contender. It had soon become apparently Boly wasn't your average centre half.

Ruben Neves

Neves celebrates his wondergoal against Sheffield United (© AMA / Malcolm Couzens)

Simply put, one of the best midfielders ever seen in a Wolverhampton Wanderers shirt.

Graceful, elegant, sophisticated...Neves is a joy to watch and is destined for the very top of the game. His vision, touch and technique are made for the grandest of stages.

His five goals have been dripping with style and pizazz, reflecting how he approaches the game. Neves is no show pony, though. His 12 bookings and a red card this season show he can get down and dirty with the most brutish of Championship midfielders and his work ethic is tremendous.

Aged just 21, he’s probably off to the World Cup with the European champions this summer. And he plays for Wolves.

Whatever happens to this man in the future supporters will be able to say 'I saw Ruben Neves in a Wolves shirt'.

Defining moment: Each of his five goals have been spectacular but it's hard to look past the pinpoint curler against Sheffield United in February. Just gorgeous.

Barry Douglas

Douglas scored a free kick in a dramatic win at Bristol City (© AMA / Sam Bagnall)

Not much was known of the well-travelled Douglas when he was signed for £1million from relatively unknown Turkish side Konyaspor last summer – and not much was expected of him either.

Douglas has exceeded all expectations with a very consistent season littered with goals (four) and of course assists.

He's produced a league high 14 assists along with Villa's Robert Snodgrass and made that left wing-back role his own.

Defensively he's improved as the season as gone on and his devilish delivery from set pieces has been a key factor in Wolves’ success, with that trademark whip consistently putting goals on a plate.

The role demands hard work and Douglas has given everything to his new club. Made a mockery of that £1m fee and earned international recognition with Scotland.

Defining moment: Set up both goals in a 2-0 win over Fulham with that textbook whip from set pieces.

Matt Doherty

Doherty scored three goals against Reading this season (© AMA / James Baylis)

Where would Wolves have been without him?

We saw a glimpse into an ugly third dimension last Tuesday when Nuno's looked bereft against Hull without the Irishman racing up and down that right flank.

Constantly makes himself an outlet and while his assists record is low he's often the trigger for an attack that leads to goal, even if it's via his very presence in a menacing position which distracts defenders.

Defensively he's been better than ever. Remarkably consistent and has arguably put in more of a shift than anyone in the squad.

Doherty has had his doubters over the years but he's stepped up to the plate every single season and improved year on year.

Finally got that elusive Ireland cap last month, topping off another superb season for the likeable full back.

Defining moment: Scored two goals in the 3-0 win over Reading last month as Wolves bounced back from defeat to Villa in style.

Diogo Jota

Diogo Jota has been a shining light in Wolves' season (© AMA / Sam Bagnall)

Fifteen goals and an inmeasurable bag of tricks, flicks and delights from the Portuguese wonder who has thrilled and delighted all season long.

The ball sticks to his boot like Velcro and his creativity is stunning to behold at times.

Kicked to kingdom come by most defences but he just kept getting up – and gave plenty back too.

Reminiscent of Helder Costa in style and indeed with Costa's injury ruining his first half of the season Jota stepped up and was Wolves' talisman in those opening months.

Has tailed off a bit since Christmas with the relentless nature of the Championship probably taking its toll, but his overall contribution has been immense. A £13million deal is in place for this summer and Jota has the ability to thrive in the top flight should Wolves make it.

Defining moment: His two goals edged a tight encounter in a 2-1 win at Nottingham Forest last September.

Tim Spiers’ top three...

Neves is a truly special footballer but for a club record £15m you would expect brilliance. Coady’s journey from a jobbing midfielder from Huddersfield into a mature centre-half of panache, finesse, bravery and commitment has been remarkable. He’s led by example, defended with aplomb and started many an attack, not to mention his commanding leadership – and all from a new position.

1 Coady 2 Neves 3 Jota

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News