Sidelined Daniel Podence still an unknown quantity for Wolves
Wolves sought, and were granted, Premier League approval to play Daniel Podence against Sheffield United on Wednesday night – but he did not feature.
After being forced to self-isolate for a week upon his return from a trip to Portugal for personal reasons, the forward was allowed back into the fold as he gave two negative Covid-19 tests.
Nuno Espirito Santo even mentioned the possibility of him starting at Bramall Lane in his pre-match press conference, but instead he was left among the substitutes again as Wolves conceded a last-gasp winner.
The £17million January signing is yet to make a league start in gold and black.
Since the top-flight restart, Podence has had a solitary minute of action.
And the only thing we have to base him off is the Europa League game at Espanyol – which had a strange dynamic, given the tie was won in the first leg at Molineux.
So, ultimately, the 5ft 5in attacker has been at the club for six months and we still barely know a thing about him.
It is strange, even by Nuno’s standards of integrating new arrivals slowly.
Yes, there is a big break in the season to take into account this time around, so, on that basis, Podence has still not had the same amount of time to acclimatise as Leander Dendoncker – another who took a while to settle in – did last campaign.
But given Podence was playing in the Champions League earlier this season, and dancing his way through the Tottenham defence along the way, you would have expected to have seen more from him by now.
Let’s not forget, although pretty par for the course in the grand scheme of things, the £17m Wolves shelled out for the Portuguese is their third-biggest outlay ever.
He cost more than each of Willy Boly (£10m), Diogo Jota (£12m), Dendoncker (£12m), Jonny Castro Otto (£15m) and Ruben Neves (£15.8m). Only Adama Traore (£18m) and Raul Jimenez (£32m) were more expensive.
So, when will we see him included from the off?
When will we be able to properly see what Podence can add to this Wolves team?
Many will be hoping it is this Sunday against Everton as, after disappointing defeats to both Arsenal and the Blades, a spark is certainly needed.
Hopefully, we will look back on the situation in several months and wonder what all the fuss was about – Podence showing exactly why Wolves splashed the cash on him. Having seen him at Espanyol – playing up front with Traore that night – he looked like a player with an eye for a pass.
Despite his small frame, he carried the ball well and, as it turned out, set up both of Wolves’ goals on the night. His vision was a little surprising.
As Nuno seeks to get back to winning ways and have a strong finish to what has been a phenomenal season, could Podence be the one to get them back going and help them seal European football once more?
We will only know the answer to that question if he is given a chance.