Rob Edwards admits there will be a high turnover of players in Wolves Under-23s with ‘a lot’ set to go out on loan this season.
Numerous prospects look set to follow left-sided Ryan Giles, who has joined Shrewsbury Town on a season-long loan. New signings Rafael Nya, Hong Wan and Tsun Dai have been welcomed to the squad and are expected to stay with Wolves all season, but Pedro Goncalves and Joao Dias have joined Portuguese side Famalicao and others will gain experience with temporary stays elsewhere.
“There are going to be a lot of changes to our group over the season, with lads leaving the club on either permanent deals or on loans; we’ve already seen Ryan Giles go to Shrewsbury,” said Under-23s coach Edwards.
Last season many of the Under-23s stayed at Wolves and won the Premier League 2 Division 2, while Max Kilman, Elliot Watt, Giles, Goncalves, Benny Ashley-Seal and Niall Ennis enjoyed brief tastes of first-team action. This season it looks like more players will be loaned out, despite the first team having extra games because of the Europa League.
“The plan is for a lot of our lads who did well last year to go out on loan,” added Edwards. “Many of our players are also training with the first-team, but whether the first-team staff want to use any of our lads this season is up to them, and if any do get an opportunity, I’m sure they will give it their very best.”
“Our job is to try to develop players, and although they did great last season as a group, they have to go forward in their career; whether that’s with our first-team or with another club. We have to try to move players on when the time is right for them to get first-team football, but they have to try to get themselves first-team football by playing as well as they can – so we expect there to be a high turnover in the Under-23s this year.”
Edwards says the nature of the Under-23s’ squad, as a feeder side to the first team, as well as being a platform for development, means they are prepared for regular changes to personnel.
“In pre-season there’s always a lot going on and players are sort of everywhere,” he said. “Some are wanting to try to get out on loan, some are new to the building and some are training with the first-team, so there’s a lot to manage and stay on top of, especially with an under-23 group, because they get pulled around and have to be everywhere.
“This is the nature of an Under-23 side, but first and foremost we must make sure we are supporting the first-team, while at the same time, our level of training and our standards must remain high. Whoever steps into the group has to keep doing the same things. Our team can change on a daily basis, so whoever we have, we need to keep our work going.
“We will have a plan and try to stick to it, knowing all the time we’re making decisions and basing our work around what the first-team need, especially this year with the team doing so well and making it to the Europa League. Their pre-season is really important as they have to make sure they have the right numbers and the right people to help them through their games programme.”
Edwards is happy with the way the new signings have integrated with the existing Under-23s’ squad. “Rafa Nya, Hong Wan and Tsun Dai have all settled in well to the group and we’re pleased to have them on board,” he said.
“Like we had last year, we want a competitive group, and all our new signings will need to raise their levels to match that of the first-team. Every single player will need to work really hard and be consistent in what they do.”
Edwards was speaking after Wolves Under-23s knocked Hednesford Town for six in a pre-season friendly at Keys Park in a game featuring the debut of Nya.
Ashley-Seal bagged an early brace for Edwards’s side, before fellow striker Ennis made it 3-0 in front of a bumper crowd of 1,119.
One-time Wolves Academy graduate Ben O’Hanlon pulled one for the Pitmen, but Chem Campbell restored the visitors’ three-goal cushion when he fired home a tremendous long-range effort.
Wolves scored twice more after the interval to complete an emphatic scoreline and make it two wins in two games after Saturday’s 2-1 victory at AFC Wulfrunians.