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Nuno: Wolves cub Kilman can force his way into the Max

Wolves youngster Max Kilman has been backed by boss Nuno Espirito Santo to force his way into the first team.

The 21-year-old left-sided defender has travelled with the first team squad to their warm weather training camp in Marbella after impressing the head coach in training and in the Under-23s games.

Kilman has recently stepped up to train with the senior squad on a more regular basis, missing the last three Under-23s games, while he has been an unused substitute for the senior team five times this season, most recently in the 2-0 defeat at Burnley.

Nuno has shown he is prepared to bring through youth by regularly playing Morgan Gibbs-White over the last two seasons.

The Portuguese head coach has also handed debuts in the cups to academy graduates Benny Ashley-Seal, Niall Ennis, Ryan Giles and Elliot Watt this term.

And he believes Kilman could make the step up to play for the first team.

When you go back to the idea of having 16 players, we have to have enough versatility in the players to allow the same player to play different positions at the same time,” said Nuno.

Now, for example, we have Max Kilman. He’s been involved, he has talent, let’s prepare them.

He’s on the list. Every player on the list can be involved in the game.”

Kilman was signed from National League side Maidenhead United in August and made national headlines, having won 25 England caps at futsal, a five-a-side game played with a smaller ball.

The Londoner played three times in the Checkatrade Trophy earlier in the season after 54 outings for Maidenhead.

He has been an unused substitute in the FA Cup tie at Shrewsbury, and in the Premier League games at Fulham and Chelsea and at home to West Ham prior to being included for the trip to Turf Moor.

Under-23s coach Rob Edwards told “He’s with the first team squad and has gone to Marbella. He jumped up with them a while back.

We’ve had him a couple of times when he has dropped back down, but that’s our job – to try to get people into that first-team squad.

Max has done well this season and been rewarded for his performances with us and in training with the first team. So it’s up to him to try to stay there now.

That’s the name of the game and it will get more and more difficult every year, but it’s great for Max.

He’s a lovely lad who has done really well and it’s up to him to try to stay there.”

Nuno believes having a smaller squad has made every player feel more included.

Have we got depth? No. But strength? Yes,” he said. “We made a decision very clearly in January, we reduced a lot of aspects and it made us take that decision.

It was the right one; it allows every player to be involved and have minutes. We want to keep growing and the best way is to let the players be involved in games.”

Nuno has made a habit of rarely changing his three-man defence, but Romain Saiss has been preferred to Ryan Bennett for the last two games.

Right-sided centre back is a role Saiss plays for Morocco and the Portuguese has been happy to slot him in there.

Ryan’s done very well but we truly believe the one coming in can give good answers as well,” he said of Saiss.

We’re versatile enough to have options, even though it’s a small squad. The versatility of the players allows us to be comfortable.

These things happen and we know they can happen at any time.”