Express & Star

Ed Francis hoping for Wolves chance against familiar faces

At the end of first-team training on Tuesday, the usual suspects stepped up to practice free-kicks.


Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho, as seen in videos shared widely on Twitter, sent a couple of beauties into the top corner.

But in-between the Portuguese maestros whipping balls past Rui Patricio, John Ruddy and Will Norris, there was the sight of the little-known Ed Francis doing exactly the same with his left boot.

It showed bravado – and indeed impressive skill – from the 19-year-old, who joined Wolves from tomorrow's opponents Manchester City halfway through last season.

Francis, who plays either in central midfield or in the middle of a back three and was made skipper of the under-23s last season, is hoping his attitude will help impress boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

He told the Express & Star: "I think I need to show that confidence to step up and take free-kicks and the ability as well.

"I had a few texts from my brother saying he'd seen the free-kicks.

"It's amazing for me to be around that calibre of player, it's a great experience and I'm proud for my family to see that. It gives me confidence and belief.

"This has been a great experience with the first-team, which is obviously what I want.

"It's good to see what the older lads are doing, you can learn so much from them on and off the field.

"It's my first time out here, we went to Hong Kong (with the under-23s) at the end of last season which wasn't too dissimilar in terms of weather.

"The fanbase...Wolves are getting towards where City are which is great for the club.

"I'm surprised about the amount of support we've had, which is great for the players and good going forward."

Francis helped Wolves Under-23s win promotion to the top tier last season after being snapped up via the recommendation of academy boss Scott Sellars, who had previously worked with him at Manchester City.

He now hopes to kick on and progress to first-team level, believing that a loan spell in Holland with second division side Almere City last year helped him mature on and off the field.

"I've been here six months now and it's just gone upwards," Francis added.

"I've felt good and at home, it's been really good. I was 10 or 11 when Scott was at City but he knows me as a player and I know him as a coach.

"I'm quite versatility which I know Nuno likes – hopefully that'll be good for me. I'm learning a lot but I think I've picked up the majority of things.

"I like the position in the middle of a three at the back. A lot of people have said they see me in the Neves role. But it's just about being on the pitch.

"I'll give everything I can. If the gaffer likes me hopefully I can stick around and take the opportunity if I get one.

"I think the loan move really helped. I wanted to go out and play first-team football.

"I wasn't too afraid of it. I went out on my own, got an apartment in Holland and took it as I could. It's definitely helped me.

"It was tough to settle initially, there's a language and food barrier, but all those things have helped me to mature, I feel I've jumped on a few years mentally."

Francis will hope to get a big chance to impress in tomorrow's Premier League Asia Trophy final against Man City.

He's better placed than most to give the inside view on the Premier League champions, especially the many youngsters that Pep Guardiola has brought to Shanghai.

"Hopefully I'll get the opportunity on Saturday," Francis, who played in the same youth team as Phil Foden, said.

"I know the majority of them. I saw a few of them after our game the other day.

"It's funny but it's also nice to see familiar faces, I'm close with a few of them off the pitch.

"It will be a tough game either way, they've got really good youngsters but so have we. The standard will be high.

"If I get the opportunity I'll give it all I can."