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Julen Lopetegui prepared to give Wolves kids a chance

Julen Lopetegui has assured Wolves’ young guns age is no barrier to them being part of his plans.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' youngster Joe Hodge
Wolverhampton Wanderers' youngster Joe Hodge

The new boss will run the rule over several of the club’s emerging stars over the next month before deciding whether they can play a part in the Premier League survival bid.

Hugo Bueno and Joe Hodge were among those to make their first-team bows under the interim regime of Steve Davis and James Collins.

Full-back Bueno was rewarded earlier this month with a new long-term contract, while midfielder Hodge was name-checked by Lopetegui while the Spaniard discussed his plans for the weeks ahead.

Lopetegui had already watched every Wolves match this season before arriving to officially start work.

Asked about the club’s young players, he replied: “We have one month to work with them, we are going to take a decision after seeing them.

“But for instance, I have seen in the match against Leeds United, Joe Hodge. He showed he is a good player and of course we are open.

“If we have a good player we are not thinking about the passport or the age.

“We are thinking about the quality and the personality and about the truth in the pitch.”

Collins, who has now returned to the job of managing Wolves’ under-21s, explained giving young players their chance in the first-team was the highlight of his testing spell in charge alongside Davis.

The duo took the reins when Bruno Lage was sacked on October 2 and remained at the helm through the club’s lengthy search for his replacement, which eventually ended with the appointment of Lopetegui, who had initially turned the job down.

Collins believes the performances of Bueno and Hodge were positives – and hopes they can continue to build on their progress under the new boss.

He said: “I think the supporters get the buzz from seeing academy players come through and perform. To be able to perform they’ve got to play well.

“That was something going into the role that I felt was something we needed to do and Steve agreed.

“It was something that we’re delighted we got the opportunity to do. Now it’s up to them to see if they can sustain it and stay in and around the new gaffer’s plans – that’s their next challenge.”

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