Express & Star

Julen Lopetegui: Wolves youngster Joe Hodge will 'have his reward in future'

Julen Lopetegui believes young Wolves star Joe Hodge will 'have his reward in the future' after an impressive breakthrough campaign.


The midfielder earned his first senior appearances under interim boss Steve Davis in October, before going on to be an important part of the squad in the opening few weeks of Julen Lopetegui's reign.

Hodge's opportunities were limited in the months that followed, but he was given a chance off the bench at Arsenal on the final day of the season and Lopetegui has been impressed with the Republic of Ireland under-21 international.

"He is a very good example as a young player, because he has worked very hard all year," Lopetegui said.

"When he's not involved with us, he wants to be involved with the under-21s and it's a good thing for him.

"He has a very strong mentality. I like this player and I think he will develop more as a player, because he's ready to fight and ready to stay in the bad and good moments.

"He's a good example for the other young players here."

As several stars avoided Molineux for the final home game of the season against Everton – including Joao Moutinho – Hodge was in attendance to thank the supporters.

When asked what that says about Hodge's attitude, Lopetegui added: "It's a good point, I agree with you.

"He's a good example as a player and as a person and I am sure he is going to have his reward in the future."

After enjoying a breakthrough season, where he made 11 appearances in all competitions, the 20-year-old could now be a candidate to go on loan next season for more game time and experience.

If he did depart, he could follow in the footsteps of Luke Cundle who made 34 appearances on loan for Championship side Swansea this season, which came after he broke into the Wolves team last season under Bruno Lage.

But when asked about a potential loan move for Hodge in 2023/24, Lopetegui remained coy and insisted he was unsure what his squad would look like next year.

He added: "We will see. I don't know what squad we are going to have.

"I would like to answer you now, it would be very good news for me if I could answer about whether our players are going on loan or not, but I can't."