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Wolves boss Bruno Lage: The real challenge starts now

Bruno Lage has warned his Wolves team that the ‘real challenge starts now’ as he anticipates a difficult December.

Willy Boly (Getty)
Willy Boly (Getty)

In just under five weeks, from December 1 to January 3, Wolves will play eight Premier League matches – with five of them coming against the traditional top six.

Several players are working their way back from injury and are not expected until the New Year, while Willy Boly and Romain Saiss will leave for the African Cup of Nations in January.

Facing a packed schedule and a depleted squad, Lage has hinted he will be forced into making changes in the coming weeks to preserve the fitness of his players.

“For me, the real challenge starts now for the squad,” Lage said.

“We’re going to play eight games in five weeks and we are working with 16 players, plus two goalkeepers.

“I need everyone fit and ready because you never know. At the moment we play with three centre-backs and we just have three centre-backs.

“16 players is a short squad. We’re going to play games in the next five weeks and we need to be aware of injury problems and Covid.

“The most important thing is that our fans understand the moment and that the real challenge starts in the next five weeks, not just for the team but for the squad.

“Also for me. I want points, points, points and I say it three times because the winter is coming. December will be long and after January we will miss Boly and Saiss.

“We are playing with three centre-backs and in that moment we will have two and I need to find solutions to continue with good performances.

“We cannot control yellow and red cards, injuries or Covid.

“That’s not an excuse, I say that so the fans understand what we’re going to do in the next five weeks.

“We can control the way we work between games and how we recover.”

A handful of academy players are training with the first team, while midfielder Luke Cundle regularly features on the bench in the league.

And Lage says an unnamed youngster could be due for a Premier League debut soon.

When asked if any youngsters are ready to step up, he added: “I think so. I think we have one.

“I will not say the name, maybe you can guess, but I think we have one that is near ready for his opportunity here in the team.

“He is working with us and I am very happy with him.

“In the moment we have one kid who can go inside the pitch to help us because of the way he works and plays for the under-23s and how he’s involved with our players.

“The players respect him and I think he can be ready. When you put a kid in the middle of the professionals, if the professional guys pass the ball to him too many times, they respect him and see this kid will not lose the ball and he can play with us. This player can be involved if we need him.”

The squad has been boosted by the return of Bruno Jordao and Fernando Marcal recently, however Boly has now been struck with fresh injury concerns.

Lage said: “We have good news, some players are back.

“Bruno has started working with the team and had a good week. For now, he’s not involved in our plans and he will start playing for the under-23s. Marcal also had a good week.

“The bad news for us is Boly – he has a little problem.

“Sometimes when he goes to the national team he comes with some problems. Last international break he was sick and now he comes injured with a muscular problem.

“It’s not good for him or us because since the first day we’ve not had the best Boly and we need him. We just have three centre-backs and we need the best Boly with us.

“Here we go again. Give him time to recover and hope when he comes back he will be 100 per cent, because we need players.

“For now we just have that information (and no timescale).”

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