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Wolves to face Rangers in Hong Kong Soccer Sevens

Wolves have been drawn to face Rangers, HKFA Red Dragons and Hong Kong Football Club in Group D of the Hong Kong FC Citi Soccer Sevens title.

It will be the first time Wolves have played in the event, which celebrates its 20th anniversary. Wolves will be sending an Under-23s team to the event, which will be played from May 17-19.

Elsewhere, six-time winners Aston Villa will go head-to-head with two-time champions Leicester City in Group B in a repeat of the 2017 final, with the duo joined by nine-time Hong Kong champions Kitchee and Singapore Cricket Club.

Newcastle begin the defence of their title, having beaten Rangers in last year’s final, alongside Brighton, current AFC Champions League holders Kashima Antlers from Japan and Hong Kong side Yau Yee League Select in Group C.

Fulham, who are also competing for the first time, and Portuguese side Portimonense will face off in the group stage following Wednesday’s draw at Hong Kong Football Club. They will be joined in Group A by competition regulars West Ham and local outfit HKFC Captain’s Select.

Former Wolves striker Mixu Paatelainen, who was appointed Hong Kong national team head coach earlier this month, attended the draw.

It’s wonderful. There’s history to this tournament and you can see there are big clubs from England taking part,” said the 52-year-old former Finland international.

Any international match is important for the youngsters in terms of development so an international tournament will be valuable for Hong Kong’s youngsters to play against hopefully the future stars of the Premier League, who it will be interesting to see playing.”

Wolves Under-23s coach Rob Edwards said: “We are delighted to be attending the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens for the first time in the club’s history and we are looking forward to competing at such a prestigious competition.

The opportunity to take our young players to Hong Kong to compete against a very good standard of opposition in such a unique format of the game is something we are eagerly anticipating and a fantastic way to bring the curtain down on a successful season at Wolves.”

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Organising Committee Chairman Tony Bratsanos said: “Wolves have done well in the Premier League and they actually contacted us, we didn’t contact them, so that was great to invite them.

We decided we’d go for Fulham as they’re a good footballing team with an excellent academy.

We love the idea of something fresh and having new teams come out. We can take our club for granted, but when I see the players walk through the entrance for the first time, they just can’t believe it.”

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens Tournament Director Chris Plowman said: “The group that intrigues me the most is Group A in the main tournament which sees West Ham, who are always a strong side, and two newcomers in Portimonense and Fulham, so who knows how strong they’ll be.

They’re going to be going up against our HKFC Captain’s Select team, so if there’s a group of death, I’m guessing that’s the one.

Leicester and Villa in the same group will be interesting and Kitchee as a local side are always very strong. Singapore Cricket Club have got some tough matches on their hands.”

The event comes two months before Wolves’ first team go to China to play in the Premier League Asia Trophy alongside Manchester City, West Ham and Newcastle.