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Nuno: Wolves' Ruben Vinagre is special

Nuno Espirito Santo has insisted he is pleased with ‘special’ Wolves wing-back Ruben Vinagre as the Portuguese defender is set for an extended run in the team.

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The 20-year-old spent a month on the sidelines himself at the beginning of the year with a hamstring issue, but returned towards the end of February.

Spaniard Jonny Castro Otto was taken off early in the 3-0 win over Norwich after a heavy knock to his ankle – and Vinagre’s timely return meant he has started the last two fixtures.

Despite some criticism over his defensive ability, Nuno says he ‘trusts’ Vinagre to take Jonny’s place.

“They are different but also they understand the philosophy and the tasks of the position that they occupy,” he said.

“You have the same shape with different players, the characteristics change by individual situations that we have.

“They are different but they are also very good players – we trust them.

“No (there’s no expected return), he’s (Jonny) not yet with the team.

“He’s getting better but it will take some time.”

After joining the club from Monaco in 2017, Vinagre has seen his playing opportunities increase each year – now in his third season with Wolves.

He made 13 and 21 appearances in his first two campaigns respectively, but has already played 26 times this season.

Despite Jonny’s injury making Vinagre the only fit left-wing-back in the first team, Nuno is adamant that it’s ‘not about’ an opportunity for the youngster.

“It is not about that but he is ready,” he added.

“He has been out and now he is ready and I think he can improve and help the team.

“I think he’s growing, it’s our third season already with Vinagre.

“He’s progressing, improving in a lot of things – tactically, technically.

“The talent is there and that’s why Vinagre is massively important to us.

“He’s so versatile and can give us some different things during the game.

“He’s special.”

Meanwhile, both goalkeeper Rui Patricio and right-wing-back Matt Doherty have been nominated for individual awards.

Shot-stopper Patricio is up for the PFA Bristol Street Motors Player of the Month award, while Doherty has been shortlisted for the Premier League’s official Player of the Month award – both for February.

The pair helped Wolves to shut out their opponents in the league, recording three clean sheets against Manchester United, Leicester and Norwich.

However, Nuno says he values the team over individual accolades.

“It is not about the players who defend or Rui, it is a team situation,” he said. The team did quite well recently but we must improve.

“Our defensive organisation is what sustains the team

“First the organisation and then the individual talents.”