Nuno Espirito Santo could give two youngsters a taste of European action as Wolves start their season tonight.
Right-sided defender or wing back Dion Sanderson and midfielder Taylor Perry are set to be included in the squad for the visit of Northern Irish outfit Crusaders in the Europa League second qualifying round at a sold-out Molineux.
Both players are local – Sanderson, the nephew of Olympic javelin champion Tessa Sanderson, is from Wednesfield, while 18-year-old Perry is from Kingswinford – and have come through Wolves’ Academy.
“Taylor Perry and Dion Sanderson are going to be with us,” confirmed the head coach when asked if any of the youngsters who made the recent trip to China were going to be involved.
Sanderson, who was part of the Under-23s’ Premier League 2 Division 2 title-winning squad last season, and Perry were two of 11 from the Academy who were in the 26-strong squad who won the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday. Both came on as substitutes in the semi-final against Newcastle and in the final against Manchester City.
Perry is delighted to be involved with Nuno and the first-team squad. “Nuno’s a great manager, so it’s great to learn from a manager like him,” he told www.wolves.co.uk “Training under him, you can progress and make yourself a better player. The main difference of working under Nuno compared to the Academy is the intensity that the manager wants from the players. He expects high standards, so when you come up to train with the first-team he wants you to be as good as them.
“You’ve got to show that you’re willing to train, put 100 per cent in, prove that you’re good enough and prove a point to the manager. It’s definitely a good place to be, especially with Nuno and all the players around, there’s great team spirit, and they’re really helpful as well. They’re professional and are willing to help you if you need help.
“Training with the first-team is definitely a much different environment as they demand a lot off you, which I think helps you as a player, and makes you think a lot about yourself. It’s been really good to be in and around them as you can improve by training and playing alongside them.”
Perry is relishing the prospect of trying to force his way into contention. “I’m looking forwards to getting started, playing games, and hopefully I can push on this year and have a good season,” he added.
Wolves are back in Europe for the first time in over 39 years after finishing seventh in the Premier League last season. Nuno expressed his pride at Wolves being on such a stage just two years after taking charge when the club was in the Championship.
“I have a lot of pride because I am the manager of a group of fantastic players; a fantastic group of men who want to improve every day,” he said. “It’s our third year we’re starting together, we know each other very well, better than we did before, so we expect things to improve.”
Matt Doherty still hasn’t recovered from the knee injury that kept him out of the trip to China, while the tie is expected to be too soon for Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss to be involved. The pair only returned to training on Monday after a two-week break.