Former Wolves goalkeepers Phil Parkes and Gary Pierce believe Nuno Espirito Santo is right to stick by John Ruddy for the FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United.
Ruddy, 32, is set to face Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form side at a sell-out Molineux in the sixth round tie on Saturday night.
Rui Patricio, Wolves’ regular first choice, will make way, just as he has done in all six previous cup games this season, including four in the FA Cup.
Parkes and Pierce shared the goalkeeping duties at Molineux from 1973 when Pierce was signed from Huddersfield to when Parkes departed for Vancouver Whitecaps in 1978, Pierce famously deputising with the game of his life in the 1974 League Cup final when Parkes had broken his ankle.
Both believe Nuno should keep faith with Ruddy, who was recalled for the 2-0 win against Cardiff City but back on the bench for the 1-1 draw at Chelsea.
“I think he’s right to go with John. I just think that’s fair, because he’s played in all the other cup games,” said Parkes, now aged 71.
“Manchester City didn’t do that in the League Cup final when Ederson played (after Arijanet Muric played in the games up to the final).
“If that had been me, I don’t think I’d have been very happy, and the manager would have known that. But it’s the manager’s choice.
“I do feel a bit sorry for John. He had a great season last year and he’s a good professional.
“When he has come back in, he had a bit of stick for what happened in the Shrewsbury replay, but he was superb in the first game against them and against Liverpool and Bristol City.”
Pierce, 68, added: “John’s a good goalkeeper anyway. Don’t forget what he did before the other lad came in.
“I think John should play because he won’t let you down. He’s a class keeper, but Patricio has had a tremendous season.
“Don’t forget, John’s helped get Wolves there, with saves against Liverpool, never mind Shrewsbury and Bristol City. Stick with John, and I still think they will have enough.”
Patricio, 31, has adapted well to the Premier League after his £15m move from Sporting in the summer.
Parkes believes the Portugal number one has proved himself in the Premier League after mastering a different goalkeeping climate from what he was previously used to.
“Goalkeepers will always come in for some stick, but the guy has proved himself at the highest level, at World Cups and European Championships and he’s in the world’s top 10 goalkeepers,” said Parkes, who made 380 appearances in all competitions for Wolves from 1962-78 and still holds the club record for consecutive appearances in League (127) and all competitions (171) from September 1970 to September 1973.
“What people might not consider is that it’s a totally different game here from where he has come from.
“It’s more physical here – not as physical as it used to be – but it’s more intense.
“Because they earn a lot of money, people think they shouldn’t make mistakes, but everybody makes mistakes.
“I think he has adapted quite well. His kicking isn’t the best, but that’s something that can be worked on in training, or should be worked on in training.”
Pierce famously denied a star-studded City with a string of superb saves as Wolves won 2-1 at Wembley to win League Cup on his 23rd birthday.
The Bury born-and-bred ex-shotstopper believes Wolves can upset one of the Manchester giants again to reach Wembley for what would be their first FA Cup semi-final for 21 years.
“I’m from Bury and I drink with a Manchester United supporter, but his best mate of 50 years is a City fan and I’ve told them ‘United are out of the Cup!’ and I’m getting hammered for saying that in Bury!” he said.
“City have still only lost one cup final, haven’t they? I wonder who that was to?! I say that to wind them up.
“I’ve got City, United and Liverpool fans around me and here’s me, ‘little’ Wolves, but I’ve told my mate I think Wolves will ‘do’ them.
“United have had Europe to focus on but look at their injuries coming now because he (Solskjaer) didn’t change his team.”