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Bruno Lage: Consistency is key for Wolves star Ruben Neves

Bruno Lage has challenged Wolves star Ruben Neves to ‘earn the right’ to start for his national side and has urged him to follow the example of team-mate Joao Moutinho.

Ruben Neves (Getty)
Ruben Neves (Getty)

The 24-year-old has made 26 appearances for Portugal and is regularly called up to the squad, but is yet to secure a guaranteed place in the starting XI.

And Lage believes he can make that next step by following 142-cap Moutinho, who started his nation’s last game at the age of 35.

“The best thing for him is to be consistent,” Lage said.

“Portugal have top players in that position. What I want is to look at my players and how I can challenge him to be better every day.

“I know he has that mentality. He’s improving and that is why the performances are coming. He needs to have that consistency.

“I was very happy with Joao. He’s 35 and started the last game for the national team.

“We’re working hard with Ruben because he can be the next one, but he also needs to respect the other guys because we have top players in that position.

“He needs to fight for his position and earn the right to play for the national team. He needs to work for that.”

Neves has hit superb form for Wolves of late and has helped them to sixth in the Premier League.

But Lage is constantly searching for more and has revealed he is personally pushing Neves to make even greater strides.

“Since the first day, I challenged Ruben to think a bit about his life and his career,” he added.

“He’s 24 and he’s in the best stage to understand that he needs to give another dimension to his game.

“I know him and when we have the ball he knows everything, so he needs to work hard in the defensive way to control in the middle.

“He needs to control it and be the best man in there. He can achieve different things in his career.

“We have a top player in our hands and he’s a top man also. He can do special things in his career, not just in the club but also in the national team.

“The challenge for him is to improve and be better because if he’s a more solid player he can achieve good things for his career.”

Meanwhile, Lage has revealed Pedro Neto is nearing a return to on-field training as he recovers from a broken kneecap. The winger is expected to be back playing in mid-January.

When asked if Neto is back on the grass, Lage said: "Not yet. I think he will be back in a couple of days.

"He is in Portugal and trying to do one exam, I don't know exactly the date.

"I hope we have good news for him to come and start working at least outside."

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