Wolves v Stoke: Could cup outing be Fabio Silva’s time to shine?
Nuno Espirito Santo is not afraid to make changes in the Carabao Cup – so will we see Fabio Silva make his Wolves debut tonight?
After being brought in for £35million from Porto, it seems a good opportunity to give the 18-year-old the nod up front, writes Joe Edwards.
But, equally, Nuno sprung some surprises with his team selection at Sheffield United and could come up with a few more against Stoke.
Given Wolves are hosting Manchester City on Monday and Nuno’s track record of giving youth a chance in this competition, it is fair to expect at least a few changes from the side which won 2-0 at Bramall Lane.
New arrival Vitinha could feature from the off along with compatriot Silva.
Diogo Jota – after being an unused substitute against the Blades – seems a pretty safe bet to come in, as does Ruben Vinagre at left-wing-back, while John Ruddy will almost certainly play in goal.
Nuno, though, kept his cards close to his chest as he said: “Let’s see.
“We know the squad is small and we still have to complete the squad, it’s not finished yet.
“We’ll take decisions and then see which is the best way to proceed.”
While coy on personnel, Nuno is hoping for a similar display to the one they managed at Bramall Lane.
They caught United cold with two goals in the first six minutes – a Raul Jimenez half-volley and Romain Saiss header – taking the game by the scruff of the neck right from the first whistle.
Stoke, though, are yet to concede this campaign, having drawn 0-0 with Blackpool before prevailing on penalties in the last round of the cup while it also ended 0-0 at Millwall in their Championship-opener last weekend.
“It’s a new game. We have to prepare and analyse the opponent and then see the best way to approach the game,” said Nuno.
“But the idea is always the same for us. We have an identity, so we will try to replicate it in every moment.”
With no European football this season, some Wolves supporters will be hoping for a deep run in this competition, although the prize on offer for the winners is different to previous years.
Rather than gaining a Europa League place, the last ones standing in the Carabao will enter the final qualifying round of the Europa Conference League – Uefa’s third-tier competition which will begin next year.
It will primarily be contested by teams from lower-ranked Uefa member associations, and the winner of it seals a Europa League place for the following season.
Hardly a must-have but, still, a fair few would be up for another European tour – even if it meant trekking to the Faroe Islands or Macedonia.
For any of that to happen, though, Wolves need to get past Stoke first and foremost.
A team full of experience that are looking to enjoy a much more positive campaign, beating them is not an easy task.
Going back to the Wolves team for this one, Oskar Buur – having made his Premier League bow as a substitute against Chris Wilder’s side – should start at right-wing-back.
It is a position Wolves are looking to bolster following the sale of Matt Doherty to top-flight rivals Tottenham, but the young Dane was solid in South Yorkshire.
“I’m really glad that I could get the chance to help the team,” said Buur on his debut and potentially playing against the Potters.
“You just have to be patient, improve and train hard every day and do what is best for the team. I’m glad to help.
“I just have to do what I can every day and continue my work. We’ll see. It’s up to the manager but it’s a good opportunity.”