Jeff Shi: Wolves in Europe is ‘natural progression’
Wolves supremo Jeff Shi admits qualifying for Europe presents a challenge – but is part of the ‘natural progression’ of the club.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team will play in the Europa League next season in Wolves’ first European campaign for 39 years.
Manchester City’s 6-0 demolition of Watford in Saturday’s FA Cup final means Wolves will enter the Europa League in the second qualifying round, which takes place on July 25 and August 1.
And executive chairman Shi said that Wolves’ players were desperate to feature in the competition.
“It’s a natural progression,” he said. “The players in the squad are more keen than me to play in Europe! You can see the pedigrees of them, like Joao Moutinho, Raul Jimenez, they’ve played in the Champions League for many seasons.
“If you want to attract more top players to come you need to give them a big stage. If they’re keen, they’re the players, so we can see it’s natural to progress to play there. I’m quite happy.”
Wolves largely relied on a squad of just 18 first-team players in the Premier League this season.
Shi doesn’t see the notion of having a small squad changing just because Wolves are in Europe – which would involve playing 12 extra games between late July and early December, should Wolves reach the group stages.
“We’ll stay with a small squad, that’s the identity of Nuno,” he said. “The challenge is to have a top squad of 18 and then the young players ready to do something when we need them.
“The only thing if you go into Europe is you have to be ready – about the squad, the academy, everything.
“It gives us more of a challenge but it will speed up the growth of the club.”
Meanwhile, Niall Ennis scored twice – including a golden-goal winner – as Wolves Under-23s won the Hong Kong Soccer 7s shield by beating Leicester 2-1 yesterday.