Nuno Espirito Santo has sent a good luck message to Wolves Under-23s as they continue their bid to win the Premier League 2 Division Two title tonight.
Rob Edwards’s side will be backed by more than 2,000 fans at Molineux as Wolves take on Stoke City (7pm), but Nuno won’t be there as he is with the first-team squad in Marbella for a few days’ warm weather training.
Wolves are third behind leaders Reading and Southampton but victory this evening will take them back to the top above the Royals on goal difference before Saints play Albion away on Thursday. Just four points separate the top five teams.
Only the champions win automatic promotion, with the next four teams going into the play-offs.
“They will be in the play-offs for sure, they are ready to fight, we’ll not be here to support them, but we wish them all the best,” said Nuno. “I hope they win the title, but first we have to play this game.”
Defeat to Aston Villa a week ago has proved costly, with Reading taking the initiative with a 3-2 win over Villa on Friday, but playing in front of a healthy crowd at Molineux will give Edwards’ side a further boost.
Newcastle, who are on the same points as Wolves, and fifth-placed Villa, who are just one point behind, remain in the mix too. Reading and Villa only have one game left, while Wolves, Southampton and Newcastle have two.
Wolves have lost their last three games in a row, all on the road, but before that beat Southampton 3-1 in their last home game.
Edwards has challenged the young Wolves side to continue battling for the top spot.
“Southampton are in the box seat for the title now, especially with just two games to go and the fixtures they have, but we’re definitely going to keep fighting,” said the coach.
Back in November Wolves drew 2-2 at Stoke as Benny Ashley-Seal’s double was cancelled out by a Stoke comeback, but Wolves have beaten Manchester United as well as Saints at Molineux this term, so will be looking to continue that sequence.
“We’ve had three really good games at Molineux so far this season; let’s try to make it four,” said Edwards. “It’s good experience for the boys to be playing there, and it will be another really tough challenge.”
Although they were beaten 3-2 at home to Newcastle in their last game, Stoke go into the game in better form than Wolves, registering a 2-2 draw at Norwich and a 4-1 win against Albion previously.
“Stoke are a good team; they lost to Newcastle in their last game, but I think it will be a good challenge and we’ve had a week to prepare and are looking forward to it,” added Edwards.
Wolves’ final league game of the season is away to Manchester United on Friday, April 26 (7pm).
In the play-offs, the team that finishes second plays the side in fifth place at home and third hosts fourth in the semi-finals, both at the club’s main stadium. The final takes place at the home ground of the team who finished highest in the league. All play-off matches are one-off ties, decided by extra-time and then penalties if the match is level after 120 minutes.
At tonight’s game, admission is free to season ticket holders and otherwise £4 for adults and £2 for Under-17s.