Nuno ready for pivotal moment in Wolves' European chase
This game could have a massive bearing on how Wolves’ season pans out.
A win over Sheffield United would put Nuno Espirito Santo’s side right back in the Champions League mix while a draw would keep them in with a shout, writes Joe Edwards.
If they lose at Bramall Lane, though, it will be very difficult for that dream to be fulfilled.
Competing solely for the Europa League again would not be a bad thing, of course – Wolves have done fantastically well to get where they are now and deserve vast amounts of credit.
But with it all being so close in the race for European football, they could very much do without suffering a second straight defeat after Saturday’s disappointing display against Arsenal.
We are at that pressure point of the campaign, but Nuno remains typically calm and not focused on the table.
“What I sense is that we don’t have to pay attention to where we are – who is there, who is not,” said Nuno.
“We cannot do that. We only focus on Sheffield United. That’s the only focus that we must and should have.
“We only look at this game. We have to react and perform better.
“We have to perform better with the ball and without the ball. It’s a game front of us that requires the same things – but in a better way.”
What stands Wolves in good stead is their away record so far this season, with only Liverpool and Manchester City having picked up more points.
The Blades, though, picked up a big 3-1 win against Tottenham the last time out at Bramall Lane.
Going into the clash, United boss Chris Wilder has been very complimentary of Wolves, insisting he tried to sign skipper Conor Coady in the summer of 2017, when Nuno first joined the club.
He also called Nuno ‘magic’, and the Portuguese returned the favour as he said: “I understand why Chris wanted Coady but I’m happy he stays here.
“We know Sheffield, I know Chris, it’s been a while.
“He is a real magician. When we played them I started looking at their process, they played the same players in League One and then he goes to the Championship and the Premier League with the same core – he is the real magician.
“He is fantastic. I admire him a lot. I really like him.
“The dynamics of the team, the belief of the squad and the way they interact, the knowledge they have among them, I really admire them. Not only Chris but his staff. My assessment of them – fantastic.”
Nuno could be without Pedro Neto tonight after he took a ‘strong kick’ in the loss to the Gunners.
They have Daniel Podence back available, though, after he missed that game.
He had returned to Portugal for an important personal issue and was having to self-isolate for 14 days upon his return.
He has since, though, tested negative for Covid-19 twice and Wolves have been given the green light to include him in the squad.
Predicted Wolves XI
(3-4-3): Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Jota
Subs: Ruddy (gk), Kilman, Vinagre, Buur, Dendoncker, Jordao, Gibbs-White, Podence, Campana