Wolves' record buy Fabio Silva bags brace on superb under-21s outing

When signed by Wolves for £35million a couple of months ago, Fabio Silva wouldn't have been thinking about facing Doncaster in the Papa John's Trophy.

 Fabio Silva greets Under-23 head coach James Collins after the final whistle
Fabio Silva greets Under-23 head coach James Collins after the final whistle

After all, an under-21s game in a much-maligned, hilariously-named competition is hardly the place you would expect to find a club-record capture.

But the Portuguese striker, only 18 years old of course, is not your typical big-money buy and with two brilliantly-taken goals now under his belt, this can very much be classed as a useful and, ultimately, hugely successful experiment.

Simply put, he was the difference-maker in this 2-1 victory over the League One outfit. He made the most of the opportunity and his confidence, undoubtedly, will have shot up.

With the vast majority of Nuno Espirito Santo's squad – 14 to be exact – currently all over Europe on international duty, Silva was sent to the Keepmoat Stadium along with fellow first-team stars Fernando Marcal, Ki-Jana Hoever and John Ruddy.

It did not take long for the former Porto lad, described as a 'generational talent' by chairman Jeff Shi when snapped up on a five-year deal in September, to make his presence felt either.

Just 15 minutes in, a predatory, fox-in-the-box finish acted as a sign of what, hopefully, is to come on a regular basis in the future.

Harder tests will follow for Silva, obviously, but this could have been a tricky evening.

He was being marked tightly by 37-year-old centre-half Andy Butler – the former Walsall man who finds himself in temporary charge of Rovers while ex-Albion boss Darren Moore self-isolates – and any Saddlers supporter will tell you that he is not afraid to get stuck in.

Silva lost a couple of aerial battles to the hard-nosed veteran early on, too, but swiftly dusted himself down to put James Collins' charges ahead.

The lively Theo Corbeanu – also 18 – worked his way to the byline and after his low cross caused confusion among the Doncaster defence, Wolves' No.17 pounced.

His first-time shot left Louis Jones helpless and rippled the back of the net via the inside of the far post.

Lifted by that sweet strike, he continued to look sharp and made clever runs while Marcal – as you would expect from someone who was playing in a Champions League semi-final not so long ago – showed his class.

Silva could have added to his tally before the break as his toe-poked effort – after a neat one-two with Hoever – was stopped by Jones while he could not quite connect with a delicious Marcal cross.

A penalty given away by Hoever was converted by Fejiri Okenabirhie, sending Ruddy the wrong way, to level things up going into half-time. It was a case of the youngster switching off for a split-second, but Wolves kept on being positive with their play.

Silva continued to display his intent too, shooting a few yards wide with his left foot following a fine turn on the edge of the area. His willingness to get on the ball could not be faulted, making some good tackles as well.

One negative was that the teenager was guilty of going to ground too easily on a few occasions and will have to iron that out moving forward.

But the overwhelming positive was his extreme coolness in front of goal, winning the game in wonderful fashion.

Former Wolves defender Cameron John hesitated following a long-ball from substitute Hugo Bueno and Silva, again displaying a pure striker's instinct, punished him.

Having time to think about it, he charged towards goal and nonchalantly slotted it past Jones to seal a big, impressive win.

Wolves Under-21s are through to the knockout stages of the Trophy courtesy of Silva's double.

He could have fallen into the trap of thinking he was above this, but he showed both ability and attitude in abundance. A top all night all-round in South Yorkshire.


Wolves U21s (3-5-2): Ruddy; Buur, Marques (c), Richards; Hoever, Cundle, Perry, Shabani (Hesketh, 67), Marcal (Bueno, 72); Corbeanu, Silva

Subs: Sondergaard (gk), Estrada, Matheson, Wan, Hodnett

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