Express & Star

Gary O’Neil wants to see more from Wolves man

Gary O’Neil has called on Jean-Ricner Bellegarde to do more to force his way into the Wolves team.


The summer signing made an exciting impact after his deadline day signing, but has struggled for form in recent weeks.

That is partly due to the Frenchman having to fill in as a makeshift striker while Hwang Hee-chan was away, and now that Bellegarde is back in his natural position O’Neil hopes he will find his form again.

The head coach said: “I still want more from him and he knows this. I speak to him a lot about what I think he can bring.

“Of course, as a number nine, I understood why and he understood why, and he does have attributes that were able to help us in certain games in that position.

“Did I see him playing there for the duration of his contract? Obviously not. But it’s really important when he goes back into his own position that he shows everybody what he can do more often.

“Sometimes he shows you real glimpses and other times he leaves you wanting a little bit more.

“I’m pushing him hard to fight for his position in the team. He should be a real consideration from the start every week and now that hopefully we won’t need to play him as a number nine too often, he can fight for his spot and push really hard.”

The 25-year-old has managed two goals and one assist in 19 games for Wolves in all competitions, as he gets to grips with English football.

More experienced players – such as Pablo Sarabia – have taken time to adapt to the Premier League and O’Neil believes Bellegarde deserve the chance to settle into his new surroundings in an unfamiliar league.

“Not physically because he’s very, very good, but he’s come to a new country and doesn’t speak perfect English,” he added.

“So for him to understand the amount of detail we put into things is sometimes harder than some of the other lads.

“But he will definitely have a massive impact on where we’re trying to get to for the rest of the season. I’m excited to see him have a run of games or big chunks of games back in his natural position.

“We’ve seen it quite a few times, but especially early on when he signed, his performance against Liverpool and some of them off the bench, he does have qualities that can definitely help us. But I am pushing him. I think he can do more at the moment.

“Take away the fact I’ve used him out of position for a reason, which I give him leeway on, I still feel like we can push him for more.”